2024-2025 Executive Branch Candidate Profiles

Below are the candidate profiles for the 2024-2025 Executive Branch Elections.
Keanu_Valibia

President (Candidate 1 of 1)

Keanu Valibia (he/him)
Statement: As a 2nd-year dual master’s student in Public Policy and Environmental Management, I bring a wealth of experience ranging from technology consulting at Deloitte to coordinating and creating a disaster relief project with the United Nations. This experience has guided my Presidency this past year, advocating for more graduate student housing (especially for our international students), supporting student communities at the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict, and establishing GPSG’s partnership with Duke’s Office of Climate and Sustainability through our joining of the Climate Commitment Advisory Council (amongst many other accomplishments).

My work as GPSG President highlight my dedication to improving student life and setting high standards for effective governance. If re-elected, I am committed to:

  1. Championing Graduate Student Housing and Increased Food Security
  2. Continuing support of the Graduate Student Union
  3. Taking concrete short- to mid-term steps to making Duke a more sustainable campus
  4. Increasing GPSG Transparency and Accessibility
  5. Building Stronger Connections Across Campus, and
  6. Bolstering Student Organizations Through Funding and Elevating Campus Culture.

As this year's President, I have worked diligently to make a GPSG that works for all students while tackling issues important to our diverse community at all levels of governance. With much more work ahead, I am the best fit for this role to continue shaping a student government that embodies the Blue Devil spirit, values, and tenacity.

For even more specific information about myself, my work, and the above issues that are important to GPSG, visit keanuvalibiagpsg.wordpress.com.

Aarushi Tripathi

Vice President (Candidate 1 of 1)

Aarushi Tripath (she/her)
Statement: As a public policy student at Duke University, I am committed to public service and leading with empathy. As Vice President, I aim to continue the good work being done by the current government. One of my major goals is to address financial and food insecurity among graduate and professional students. I will work with the GPSG pantry and Root Causes to assess the effectiveness of food programs on campus, identify areas for improvement and explore opportunities for expansion. For financial need, I will engage with university administrators to establish emergency financial assistance funds and organize more accessible and frequent financial wellness workshops. Finally, I hope to explore partnerships with community organizations and businesses to supplement existing resources and support. I personally understand how grad students often grapple with juggling multiple responsibilities outside their academic pursuits. Even when resources are available, it can become extremely difficult to access those or know the right people. I hope to create better support systems and more streamlined communication systems that focus on housing, scholarships, and access to nutritious food, which will be aided by robust monitoring and evaluation processes. With busy schedules and families, grad students might get less opportunities to socialize outside their school or classes. I will actively work with GPSG’s committees, the President, and Directors to create programming that addresses all the various needs of graduate and professional students and fosters a strong sense of belonging and safety. In the past year, I have been participating both as a member and a leader of student clubs at the Sanford School. I organized multiple events such as a tech policy conference in DC and a career panel while serving on the executive board of the Duke Tech Policy Club. In this role, I was able to build strong industry and academic networks for our student members, especially those underrepresented in the tech policy sector. Additionally, I served on the DEIJ sub-committee, a position through which I advocated for student demands in our program. This included collecting student feedback, communicating their perspectives to the student council and administration, creating recommendations, and evaluating the impact of advocacy efforts. In my role as a board member and student volunteer with PORCH-Durham, I engage with and support Durham residents on issues of food insecurity. These experiences continue to help me become a better member of both the Duke and Durham communities as I become more aware of the problems faced by members and understand my role in creating and supporting solutions directly with the skills I learn and possess

IMG_4470

Director of Academic Affairs
(Candidate 1 of 1)

Julian Liber (he/him/his)
Statement: My name is Julian Liber. I’m a third year PhD Candidate in the Department of Biology, and I want to continue to serve as Director of Academic Affairs to ensure that students’ concerns are heard in how the University operates. I’ve served the graduate and professional student body for 3 years as a representative and director in GPSG, working actively with the administration and the diverse communities across our campus to bring student concerns to the forefront, ensure that policies are built with G&P students in mind, and hold decision makers on campus responsible to those who work and study there. From academic programs and teaching to transit and housing, the Director of Academic Affairs has the opportunity to shape the academic and community lives of students on campus. I aim to ensure that support systems are in place to protect vulnerable students during crisis, promote excellence in Duke’s education and campus life, and work to improve affordability of living and working at Duke. I also believe that concerted actions with the Duke Graduate Student Union can extend the ability of GPSG to achieve campus-wide wins for students.

Dennis Owusu

Director of Community Pantry (Candidate 1 of 1)

Dennis Owusu (he/him/his)
Statement: : I am a first-year Computational Biology Ph.D. student at Duke University’s School of Medicine and a graduate in Biochemistry from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana. Throughout my studies, I have consistently engaged in efforts to enhance the welfare of students and marginalized communities. My experience ranges from spearheading welfare initiatives as the Welfare Chairperson at KNUST to developing programs that helped students navigate the challenges of campus life. At Duke, I have continued this passion by serving as the volunteer coordinator for the Community Pantry, providing essential support to students in maintaining their health and well-being. As a candidate for Director of Community Pantry, my goal is to expand our impact through sustainable initiatives, such as educational workshops on nutrition and ensuring the cultural diversity of our students’ population is reflected in the food selection. With a proven track record in leadership and community engagement, I am eager to drive the GPGS mission forward, enhance the quality of students’ lives and promote seamless involvement across the campus. A vote for Dennis is a vote for sustainable impact!

Jonathan Jean-Pierre

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Candidate 1 of 4)

Jonathan Jean-Pierre (he/him)
Statement: Imagine a campus community where all graduate and professional students feel included and supported throughout their academic journeys. As a first-generation student and person of color, I deeply understand the transformative impact of an inclusive campus environment and equitable access to opportunities; these experiences can unlock a student's full potential at Duke and for years to come post-graduation. Impactful initiatives have marked my leadership journey in DEI. At Lehigh University, I supported the creation of the university's first DEI core curriculum as part of the student government DEI committee task force. Additionally, I spearheaded the development of LGBTQIA+ training for coaches, fostering a more inclusive environment for student-athletes like myself, which Nike sponsored via the Be True Campaign. Beyond academia, I have over 10+ years of HR experience, driving strategic people priorities at the company level. These experiences include helping land Google's racial equity commitments and chairing the People and DEI Committee as a Fiver Children's Foundation board member. I actively contribute to the DEI Committee as a graduate student senator. Having been on the DEI committee at Duke for a year, combined with my academic and professional background, positions me to effectively address the growing needs of Duke's graduate and professional student population as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Sunag Udupa

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Candidate 2 of 4)

Sunag Udupa (he/him/his)
Statement: Hi everyone! My name is Sunag and I am a third year MD/PhD student. I would be excited to serve as director of the DEI committee for this upcoming academic year. I have first-hand experience with the committee - having served as a member this past academic year. Through this experience I have both a solid understanding of the role of this committee and have a strong connection with the current director who I could turn to for questions and support as needed. This past year, the committee supported a number of successful events and initiatives to help promote DEI at Duke. A few highlights of the work include the Speed Culture night which occurred this Spring and the funding of DEI microawards which helped support events such as the 2024 Black Policy Conference, the 2024 Queer Prom, the Pratt Post Grad Women’s Picnic, and the Women in Tech Policy Conference. Moving into the next academic year, I would be excited to continue creating a positive and welcoming environment here at Duke and would love your support in the upcoming election

Darartu Gamada

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Candidate 3 of 4)

Darartu Gamada (she/her/hers)
Statement: As a second-year medical student, my dedication to inclusivity and equity, honed through leadership roles in the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, Student National Medical Association, and Global Health Interest Group, has uniquely prepared me for the GPSG DEI Chair position. From organizing cross-university mixers to hosting events including a Juneteenth brunch, I've prioritized creating environments where every individual is valued and respected. If entrusted with this role, I'll work to bridge connections among diverse graduate and professional schools, collaborating with identity and affinity groups to celebrate our community's diversity and ensure that all voices are heard and valued.

Kwawuvi Joshua Elorm

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Candidate 4 of 4)

Kwawuvi Joshua Elorm (he/him/his)
Statement: I am Kwawuvi Joshua Elorm, an MS-Global Health student from Ghana. My experience at Duke Global Health Institute has been an amazing one. The university upholds great academic excellence coupled with equity, diversity and inclusion. This has contributed to the growth and development of the student in my opinion. A class composition of 33 students, from 11 different countries, speaking 13 different languages, is a true reflection of the institution's inclusivity culture. This has not only inspired me but contributed to my growth at Duke University. I desire to continue the mandate of creating a safe space of support, opportunities and involvement for all graduate students at Duke University. I have served in several leadership positions including representing students as the welfare chair on the student representative council board at my previous university(UHAS), where I led the team in drafting and presenting policies to make drastic change in student involvement in decision making and increase support equitably, meeting students at their point of need. I am a firm believer of “if it is about us then involve us”. In essence, every voice matter, irrespective of color, race or gender. As your Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I will lead the charge to make our campus a place where everyone feels valued and included. From updating our curriculum to reflect diverse perspectives to building stronger mentorship programs and safe spaces, I will ensure every student has the support rive. And I won't stop there – I will advocate tirelessly to make sure our student body truly represents the rich tapestry of humanity. Together, let's create a campus where everyone belongs.

Emily Magen

Director of Durham Relations
(Candidate 1 of 1)

Emily Magen (she/her)
Statement: I’m running for Director of Durham Relations because I believe in the power of healthy communities and in our responsibility as graduate/professional students to be good neighbors, no matter how long we call Durham home. If elected, affordable housing and accessible transportation will be my top priorities. As a dual MDiv/MPP student at Divinity and Sanford, I currently serve as the GPSG Senator for the Divinity School. Through this role I work on the Academic Affairs committee, where we have analyzed cost of living survey data from Duke graduate/professional students and focused on housing, transportation, and safety. I also have prior experience with community organizing through Durham CAN, serving on their affordable housing team. I want to continue doing this work from the Duke side, building relationships to further develop partnerships and advocating for more accessible and affordable graduate student housing so that Duke students aren’t competing with lower-income Durham residents for the only units they can afford. If this is something you’re also passionate about, let’s chat! I’d love to hear your input, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve in this role.

Gabriel Kennedy

Director of External Advocacy
(Candidate 1 of 2)

Gabriel Kennedy (he/him)
Statement: Gabriel has two years of experience with the Duke GPSG External Advocacy Committee, first as a member in the 2022-2023 school year and as the Director of External Advocacy this past year. In this role, Gabriel has led three policy meetings with state representatives and senators, was part of the team to increase student voter turnout in the national primaries, and has written several statements voted on by the GPSG senate to send to our US Congress representatives. Gabriel has developed GPSGs relationships with our neighboring institutions, the various Duke Governmental relations offices, and both the NC state and federal governments. Gabriel steered the two largest GPSG EAC-associated events of this past year, Democracy Day and the GPSG DC trip. Gabriel is confident that with the experience of this past year, the next year will only be better.

Jeneh Swaray-Akajo

Director of External Advocacy
(Candidate 2 of 2)

Jeneh Swaray-Akajo
Statement:

Salutations to comrades from the Duke Academic community!

I am so excited to be attending Duke University's ABSN program with all the wonderful and talented individuals. My name is Jeneh Swaray-Akajo, and I am a candidate for the Director of External Advocacy. I am passionately requesting your support and vote to clinch the position so that together you and I can steer Duke to greater heights of prosperity, excellence through inclusivity, creativity, change making and collaborative leadership. Please join me in bringing a positive impact here on campus and beyond the walls of Duke University. I need your Vote!

I was born in Sierra Leone in West Africa but circumstances beyond my control forced to live outside my country due to civil war that ravaged my country for over a decade. You may remember Matt Damons movie “The Blood Diamond”, I lived through the war. Luckily, my father managed to get me to Ghana where I spent several years studying before relocating to the USA in 2001. I have lived in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Middle Island, New York for my high school education. During my undergraduate years, I did an internship researching cancer and cardiovascular disease causes at the Biomedical and Biotechnology Institute at North Carolina Central University. After graduating with BS In Chemistry in 2010 and MS in Healthcare Administration with a Public Health concentration in 2021, I volunteer at Dignity California Hospital through the UCLA Health Scholar program and worked as Medical Administrative Assistant at Lestonac Free Clinics California doing community outreach highlighting homelessness issues and serving the underserved population with chronic health issues through free medical and dental services. One area of focus was liaison responsibilities for my organization to retired physicians, dentists, medical students, and nurses encouraging them to come to our clinic and offer their skills and expertise in serving the most vulnerable populations whose health was declining. I collaborated with others in transferring patients’ paper medical records to electronic-based and kept records of volunteers for follow-up and gratitude expressions.

I am running for the Director of External Affairs not only because I qualify as an optimist of making a positive impact on our university, community, our nation at large. I believe in the power of unity, partnership, and collaboration in making a difference in the lives of those we serve. I am asking everyone to vote for me not only because I am kind, compassionate, a change maker, optimistic, and have great interpersonal relations with others but love helping others, my greatest strength.