New GSC Service Chair, Marie Onakomaiya

On August 26, 2013 by Grad Forum

marie_thumbnail_2This summer, the Graduate Forum has profiled several of the members of the newly elected executive board of the Graduate Student Council (GSC). An exciting development this year is the addition of a new executive board member—the service chair. Marie Onakomaiya has been appointed as the first service chair, and below she discusses her plans for developing this new position.

The goal of the newly created service chair position is to increase the awareness about service and outreach within the graduate student population and also demonstrate the GSC’s dedication to promoting a service-oriented mindset among graduate students at Dartmouth. The position was created as one of the first initiatives of the new GSC President, Lisa Jackson, and was voted on by the newly elected executive board. The appointment was made with the plan to write it into the constitution so that graduate students can run for and be elected to be the service chair in the future.

For the last three years, I have co-chaired the Graduate Relief Team (GRT), organizing monthly service opportunities and outreach events for graduate students. I plan to use this as the foundation for the service chair position by capitalizing on existing opportunities that the GRT has been involved with in the community over the past few years. In my term as service chair, I hope to make service an integral part of the Dartmouth graduate student experience. I will be working extensively with other groups to facilitate a variety of volunteer and service activities to cover different areas of outreach in the community.

In the coming weeks, I will be recruiting a service committee as part of the push to include different ideas about what graduate students would like to get involved with. Their main goals will be to identify and organize long-term service engagements for graduate students and strengthen partnerships with service-oriented organizations within Dartmouth and the greater Upper Valley community. Moreover, the revamped GRT page includes a “suggestion box” so students can inform the service chair and committee about volunteer opportunities they would like to see other graduate students get involved with.

The year of service will kick off with the community-wide Day of Caring at the end of September, to include new and returning graduate students. Working with the executive board and the service committee, there are several service opportunities being developed, ranging from outreach education with refugees, working with the elderly, tutoring local middle school and high school students, cooking meals at the Upper Valley Haven, and Habitat for Humanity builds, among others. There will also be a GSC-sponsored graduate student day of service in the spring of 2014 to promote the service mindset while catering to the different interests of graduate students and the needs in the community.

This is a very exciting time for service in the Dartmouth graduate student community. Keep your eye on the Gazetteer and the GSC website to find these opportunities, take a break from work and refresh your mind through the service of others.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

by Marie Onakomaiya

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