2023-2024 Candidate Info
Below are the eligible candidates to vote for as the incoming GPSG Executive Board.
Elections will take place through Qualtrics in the MyPitt portal. Elections will open at 8:00 am on Monday, March 20th, and close at 11:59 pm on Friday, March 24th. All current graduate and professional students are able to vote through this portal.
Voting is currently open: https://pitt.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7ZDJ1keINlgmK6G
Candidates for President
School of Medicine
Candidate Biography: My name is Rithika Behera and I am a fourth year Ph.D candidate in the School of Medicine. My research is focused on the genetic regulation of proteins involved in skin fibrosis in Systemic Sclerosis, a rare autoimmune disease with increased morbidity and no cure. My research has been awarded the 2022-2023 Predoctoral Summer Fellowship by the National Scleroderma Foundation. During my term in graduate school, I have undertaken leadership roles and extracurricular initiatives to carry out impactful changes to graduate life.
I’ve advocated for and achieved a 3.7% stipend increase for graduate students in the School of Medicine for the year 2021-2022.
I’m a member on the University Council on Graduate studies where we develop and review protocols, regulations and make recommendations to the Provost for new post-baccalaureate degree and certificate programs.
I am also one of the founding members of Graduate GLEAP committee, where my role is focused on shaping a healthy environment, empowering graduate students to perform their best in their professional careers and personal lives.
I am passionate about improving the representation of women in STEM as this is important to better represent the needs of the society and drive innovation. To help this issue, I’ve served as the outreach committee head of Biomedical Graduate Student Association (BGSA) at the University of Pittsburgh from 2020-2021. During my tenure I founded a volunteer program enabling graduate students to mentor and promote STEM careers amongst Gwen’s Girls STEM participants, an organization that helps African American middle and high school students promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Candidate Statement: My name is Rithika Behera, and I am excited to run for the position of President. Through my leadership experiences in graduate school, I have realized that I truly enjoy discussions pertaining to improving graduate life. I am keen to build student friendly policies that can benefit every individual irrespective of their race, gender, particularly in these uncertain times. Being an international student, I am fully aware of the challenges many students face and I wish to serve as an important resource and add value to the systems and policies shaping higher education.
My goals from this position are to
Advocate for increase in graduate stipend and resources for mental health support.
Foster a supportive campus community that will promote discussions and education pertaining to cultural diversity in the graduate community.
Build intercultural initiatives to enhance the cultural integration of international students into the Pitt community and bring their strengths to the forefront.
Address graduate students’ concerns and questions professionally, confidentially and to the best of my abilities.
Strengthen the relations and increase transparency between the University board and graduate students.
I am committed to working with the GPSG leadership and staff to build on GPSG’s current strategic plan and work towards a fair, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all.
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Candidate Biography: Hello everyone! My name is DevishaBisaria, and I am running for President of the Graduate and Professional Student Government! I am a Public and International Affairs graduate student at Pitt and have come from a background of service and leadership. I received my undergraduate degree from Loyola University Chicago in Criminal Justice and Criminology. I believe the experience that prepared me most for this position was my role as Team Leader at the nationwide non-profit, City Year. During my time with them in Boston, I worked to create safe spaces for individuals of different backgrounds and identities, prioritize the mental and emotional well-being of my students & team, and focus on doing our community social justice work as efficiently and effectively as possible. I want to do the same, and more, for GPSG. I am currently participating in the The Hesselbein Forum Leadership Program in International Affairs in order to improve my leadership skills.
Candidate Statement: Flexibility, patience, empathy, and genuine love for this graduate school will be the foundation of my leadership for our community. As President, I will strive to advocate for my fellow students and work to grow DEI initiatives on campus. As a current member of the Students of Color Alliance Executive Board for GSPIA, I am learning how this university functions and how to enact change through its systems. I plan to serve the broader graduate school community at Pitt with the skills I am acquiring through this leadership position.
I believe that as a team, we can create a unique experience for our fellow students and leave them with lasting impressions of acceptance, diversity, inclusivity, and kindness.
I take pride in being a part of the Pitt community, and I’d be honored to represent my peers and friends in our journey to effect change.
Swanson School of Engineering
Candidate Biography: My name is Ande Marini, and I am a fourth year PhD Candidate in Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering. Prior to coming to Pitt, I studied both Engineering Science and Biology at Saint Vincent College. In both undergraduate college and graduate school, I have sought out leadership opportunities.
As a freshman in college, I saw the need to create a community for students in the newly developed Engineering Science Program. Thus, I founded the Engineering Club. As Founder and President, I arranged for students to tour various Engineering facilities to help Engineering students network with companies for future career opportunities. My early contributions to the Engineering community encouraged me to remain involved in leadership positions and continue creating a community where students could thrive.
In graduate school, I am an active member of Pitt’s graduate chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), initially serving as the First-Year Representative (2019-2020), then Vice President (2020-2021), and finally as the President (2021-2022). Through these positions, I have been actively involved with the Department in planning recruitment weekend and various professional, academic, and social events. During the 2021-2022 year, I played an integral role in rebuilding the face-to-face interaction that was lost during the pandemic. I led a student board of over 10 people and coordinated semesterly meetings with the Department, leading discussions about the program, community, etc. As a result, the current board has evolved and continued to work with the Department to ensure students feel seen and heard.
Through my time as the Engineering Graduate Student Organization (EGSO) Department Representative (2020-2022), the EGSO 2021-2022 board acknowledged my leadership skills. Thus, I was elected President for the 2022-2023 academic year. My goal was to improve communication between EGSO and the Department Representatives, effectively enhance interdepartmental community, and address student concerns across the Engineering School. I have led a team of diverse individuals to plan social (including an International Cuisine Celebration focused on embracing international cultures) and professional events. Our board also meets with Department Representatives from all engineering disciplines, fostering a community of collaboration.
Candidate Statement: As the current EGSO President, I have had the opportunity to learn about GPSG and their current goal to improve the overall Pitt community across different schools. I believe diversity and community breed innovation, collaboration, and connection, and I want to impact more students at Pitt outside of the Engineering School. As GPSG President, I will continue fostering community and collaboration by working with the 2023-2024 board to create inclusive events and an overall safe environment. I also hope to work with administration to develop resources to foster interdisciplinary community. Graduate students work hard in their classes and research; they deserve to feel seen, heard, and safe at Pitt. As GPSG President, I hope to create that community and work to provide any necessary resources for students.
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Candidate Biography: My name is Robert Miller, and I am currently a first-year student at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs focusing on Security and Intelligence Studies. Throughout my first year, I have been fortunate enough to work with the Matthew B. Ridgeway Center for International Security Studies as a co-host of the podcast Bunker’s Cable. Before pursuing my master's, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Management-Accounting with a dual minor in Actuarial Science and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. While an undergrad, I held many leadership roles that allowed me to advocate for all student needs and concerns effectively. Specifically, I served as a Resident Assistant where I advocated for effective policy change surrounding Campus Police responses to mental health. As well as I held a multitude of positions within the Student Government Association where I served as the Treasurer, held placements on diverse committees, and represented the Greensburg student body on the President Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Programs here at the main campus. I also worked to start the first student to successfully work through the process of starting a new honors society aimed at recognizing and supporting exceptional students within the fields of Management, Management-Accounting, and Management Information Systems.
Candidate Statement: From my time as an undergrad through my first year at GSPIA I have heard students call on the University of Pittsburgh to do better at creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students. That call, however, was met with inaction by the University administration. With the President position, I plan to hold all University administration officials accountable for their inaction and plan to work with the GPSG and other university governing bodies to create an effective plan aimed at addressing the concerns of students. I also plan on using this position to reopen graduate study spaces across campus to offer all graduate students space to quietly study or work on their dissertations. I believe the University has made strides to change its behavior but much more progress needs to be made.
Candidates for VP of Committees
Yuliana Nike Ndaumanu
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Candidate Biography: Yuliana Nike Ndaumanu is a Master of Public and International Affairs student at the
University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, class of
2024, specializing in International Political Economy. She completed her undergraduate
studies at the University of Brawijaya in Indonesia in 2018, where she focused on
communication science and public relations.
From 2015 to 2016, she was the Vice President of AIESEC at Universitas Brawijaya.
She has been actively working on numerous SDG projects since 2015, both
internationally and in her Indonesian hometown of East Nusa Tenggara. She hopes to
inspire young people to reach their full potential through her Dare to Dream project,
which she started in 2016. She continues to advocate for youth empowerment and
capacity building today. She is the president of Dareto Academy, a social enterprise in
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, focusing on human capital development and education.
She is Vice President of the International Student Club in GSPIA. She is the leader and
ambassador of Pepelingasih NTT (an environmental non-profit organization under the
program of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Indonesia). Actively take
on the roles of Community Engagement and Event Manager at Mata Garuda Amerika
and Public Relations Manager at Mata Garuda NTT. She is PERMIAS's Vice President of
Communication (Indonesian student association at the University of Pittsburgh). She
represents the 2017 ASEAN Youth Ambassador initiative of the Indonesian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. Lastly, she loves traveling, hiking, and outdoor activities and plans to join
the Pittsburgh Marathon 2023 for the first time.
Candidate Statement: There are five Key activities that I will work on within the GPSG community as the position Vice President of the Committee.
Aware, Communicate, Transform, Innovation, Network
Aware of my responsibilities are not only doing my job descriptions but ensuring all the coordinating processes to the Assembly Board.
Communicate. As part of the leadership journey, I demonstrate the added values to team members/committee and engage with all stakeholders in GPSP.
Transformation is essential, which means adapting to any changes necessary for the GPSP.
There will likely be more innovation projects/events that can boost the creativity/professional development of the GPSG community.
Networking is the core of building long-term professional relationships and essential support to graduate students’ career paths.
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs &
School of Computing and Information
Candidate Biography: My name is Siddhesh Shimpukade. I am currently pursuing a joint MPIA-MSIS degree program at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh. I hail from Pune, India, where I completed my Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunication at the University of Pune. I am also currently the General Secretary of ANKUR – Indian Graduate Student Association at Pitt. After I graduate, I aim to work in the intelligence consulting domain.
While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I was also part of multiple volunteer organizations. I was a member at Prayas Youth Forum, an NGO affiliated to my college. We organized 10-day annual camps in rural areas around the city to educate the students there in Computer Literacy, Swift Math, hold career guidance and women empowerment sessions, and carry out tree plantation and other activities. I was also the member of Rotaract, the youth wing of Rotary International. I was in the executive board of my Rotaract Club for two consecutive years, serving as the Rotary-Rotaract Relations Officer for the year 2019-2020, and Vice President/International Service Director for the year 2020-21.
In my free time, I like to read, sing, and work out. I am also a published poet. I am in search for the best Asian restaurant in Pittsburgh, that being one of my favorite cuisines.
Candidate Statement: As VP of Committees, I will attend all GPSG meetings and diligently complete the duties as prescribed by the AB and President. I will make sure that all committees have a representative who I will coordinate and communicate with on a regular basis. Seeing a large diaspora of international students and being an international student myself, I will ensure that the interests of international students are also met. I will strive to create a lot of engagement and get ample participation in our events, especially the ones with multiple collaborations. I will be available to assist graduate students with anything they may need help with.
Candidates for VP of Finance
School of Public Health
Candidate Biography: My name is Jake Kastroll, and no I am not wearing khakis. I am originally from southwest-Florida, where I grew up with 8 siblings. Yes, COVID was a nightmare at home. I attended Boston College as a member of the Women’s Basketball Team where I studied biochemistry. Because I love the cold weather so much, I decided to pursue my PHD in Pittsburgh. I currently study insulin resistance and human genetics through the department of Public Health. I am passionate about leadership within the scientific community and the local Pittsburgh community. I founded my own Non-Profit on behalf of my cousin Peter, who suffers from an extremely rare genetic disease, and worked with a Biotech company to create therapeutics for his condition. I also serve on the board of Nucleate Pittsburgh, which promotes the development of biotech companies locally. I also am a member of Fourth River Solutions (4RS), which provides consulting advice for local Pittsburgh companies. In my free time, I love to play pickleball on a warm sunny day at Schenley Park.
Candidate Statement: Because of my previous experience managing balance sheets for an Insurtech Agency and my education in investment strategies, I will be an excellent VP of Finance. My goal is simple: I want to budget the 2023-2024 fiscal plan to strengthen the graduate community here at Pitt. I am standing on the shoulders of giants, who have paved the way to connect our community in meaningful and fun ways. The events that the current board members have organized are amazing, and I want to continue to fund them by hearing from the student body. When I asked the current executive board members their favorite thing about their role, they all unanimously replied, “watching all the events unfold and meeting new graduate students after months of hard work and planning.” That is exactly what excites me about this position, and I hope to represent Pitt in the best way I can.
School of Public Health
Candidate Biography: I am Varbi Mridha, and I am currently enrolled as a PhD candidate in the department of Human Genetics, in the School of Public Health, and I am a GSR in the Al Diri lab in the department of Ophthalmology, in School of Medicine.
I began my journey with Pitt in 2021, when I started here as a master’s student in the
department of Human Genetics. Along with attending school, I also served as a teacher’s
assistant (TA) for undergraduate students in the School of Rehabilitation and Sciences for Fall
2021 and Spring 2022. I adored the feeling of being able to provide guidance to the students
and the opportunity to engage with them and with multiple distinguished researchers and
professors. I hoped to get involved with the graduate student community all over the university, and that led me to attend quite a few events organized by GPSG, following which I decided to apply for the VP of Finance position in the year 2022. Thinking about my time with the VP of Finance position, there were multiple challenges on the way but with the help of the other members of the GPSG board, we were able to make promising progress. Being a part of this amazing team and being able to witness the joy and appreciation from fellow graduate students for the services we provided and continue to provide pushed me to reapply for the same position for the year 2023-2024.
Other than my experiences here in the States, during my undergraduate degree program in
SRM institute of Science and Technology, I volunteered as a tutor, providing free education to underprivileged children in Child in Need Institute (CINI). CINI is a well-known NGO catering towards children well-being. Following that opportunity, I volunteered in another NGO called Calcutta Rescue, where we provided free medical examination, primary resources, and free education to underprivileged individuals. I also volunteered for 1Life suicide prevention
helpline, where I served as a counsellor for people in distress and provided emotional support to help love themselves and prevent self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
For my undergraduate thesis, I worked on a project in Sankara Nethralaya, a pioneer eye
institute. My project was to evaluate whether a SNP of interest was causal for Diabetic
Retinopathy in south Indian population. The experience of being able to interact and
collaborate with established doctors and researchers helped me gain better confidence in
pursuing science with leadership qualities, and most importantly teamwork with my fellow lab
In 2020, I was employed by Amazon as an associate, where my role was to provide solutions to everyday problems customers faced while using Amazon products. With commendable performance, I was appointed as team leader following which I was promoted to an HR position where my role was to assist other employees. Adding to all these lessons and experiences, my primary schooling in two different institutions in India played a huge role in shaping me with
experiences of small leadership roles as a young learner.
Candidate Statement: I am interested in being considered for the VP of Finance position for the fiscal year 2023-2024. I understand that the Vice President of Finance is responsible for overseeing the financial activities of GPSG, including authorizing, and keeping a record of all financial transactions of GPSG.
Serving in this position for about a year, with the help of my fellow board members and
graduate students I was able to make improvements in multiple aspects involving the GPSG, graduate student organizations and the graduate community. I helped with rectifying incorrect budget report, and distributed funds in a fair and agreed manner. Coming back from the pandemic, to encourage more student engagement and interaction, I initiated an increase to the GPSG programming budget to allow more networking events and activities. I also initiated
an increase to the Travel Grant award budget to encourage more applications and to award
more students for their academic activities. I also contributed towards other additional
initiatives and changes including funding and smoother process which would serve graduate
If I am selected for this position, I plan to continue my services and dedication towards fulfilling the role of VP of finance. I hope to be able to contribute to solidifying the initiatives and proceed towards easier processes and harmony. Being a part of this board for some time now, I
have had the opportunity to meet exceptional people and work alongside them and I look
forward to continuing that relationship and make this upcoming academic year better.
Candidates for VP of Communication
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Candidate Biography: Hi y’all! My name is Melinda Szabo, and I am running for VP of Communications!
I graduated from St. Edward’s University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in
International Business with a minor in Catholic Studies. I have worked in fundraising for
nonprofits after graduating college and was most recently an AmeriCorps VISTA at a refugee
organization in Austin, TX. I have also served on nonprofit boards including Way Off Broadway
Community Players, Girl Advocacy League, and Teens Encounter Christ in various positions
including President, Vice Chair of Events, and Development Ministry Chair, respectively. I am
currently studying to get my Master's in International Development at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs or GSPIA. I am my degree representative on GSPIA’s Student
Cabinet as well as the Business Manager for the Graduate Organization for the Study of Europe
and Central Asia, or GOSECA. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, baking, and especially sharing
Candidate Statement: As the VP of Communications, I want to effectively communicate with graduate and professional students. There are many channels through which students can learn about events and information from GPSG. In my various volunteer roles, I am usually tapped to create marketing pieces as well as share them on social media. I also send out weekly updates to the MID students with information about university services as well as upcoming events. I plan to continue on the previous VP of Communication’s successes by designing graphics, keeping up with GPSG’s social media presence, and sending out regular e-Bulletins. I know the meaning of hard work and getting things done as well as working as part of a team. I pledge that I will work together with the Executive Board to ensure our communications run smoothly.
Candidates for VP of Programming
There are currently no candidates running for the VP of Programming. Please check back after this week for updates!