President of GPSA cultivates a culture of inclusivity at ASU

October 21, 2019

Leah Jones is a Ph.D. student in the School of Sustainability and she’s also the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association.

After being involved with GPSA for two years, at first as a committee member on the International Student Affairs Committee and then as an Assembly member, Jones began to see that some people’s voices weren’t being heard on campus, specifically students of color, women and international students. She decided to run for president to give minority students at ASU better representation. 

“I decided to run for president because I wanted to make sure that all voices were being heard and that the challenges that many minority students with disadvantaged backgrounds face could be addressed,” Jones said.

Jones is inspired to effect significant change in the lives of ASU graduate students and plans on cultivating a culture of greater inclusivity at ASU this year and beyond. 

Jones talked with ASU Student Life about her position, her goals for the upcoming year, her inspiration, what student issues she is passionate about, her time at ASU, advice she would give to students who are thinking of applying and her plans for the future. 

Leah Jones ASU Graduate and Professional Student Association president

Leah Jones, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association at ASU

What does your position entail?

My position involves a variety of different hats. In the Council of Presidents, I am a voice for graduate students to give voice to their perspectives and advocate on their behalf to the university. 

Within GPSA, I manage and support a team of vice presidents and directors and collaborate with our Assembly on numerous programs, advocacy platforms and efforts to support graduate students. 

Additionally, I collaborate and communicate with various departments across ASU and provide graduate student input to various efforts that are taking place around campus.

What are your goals for this upcoming year and what do you plan to get done?

My goals for this upcoming year are to advocate for increased support for students of color, hold the administration accountable to the efforts that are already in progress, work to increase the job and internship opportunities for international students and make sure that all graduate student voices are heard.

What are your inspirations? 

My inspiration is a desire to make an impact on the lives of students. Whether it’s building a stronger social community among graduate students or providing financial support or advocating on behalf of students facing issues, I am inspired by my ability to make actual change in the daily lives and experiences of graduate students here at ASU.

What issue are you most passionate about positively impacting?

The single issue I am most passionate about addressing this year is the challenges faced by our diverse population — especially by students of color and international students. I want to advocate for increased support and community for all students and work toward greater inclusivity in the ASU community.

What would you say to someone who wanted to run for a position in student government?

To someone running for student government, I would tell them that the position is what you make it. I would advise people to bring their ideas, passions and personalities into the position and put forth the effort to really work toward those things. Student government is very rewarding; I am able to make a tangible impact on the lives of students and have the power to enact real change.

Why did you choose to come to ASU?

I chose to come to ASU because I wanted to pursue a degree in sustainability with a focus on water management in arid areas. As ASU has the oldest School of Sustainability in the country and provides an opportune academic and physical environment to study my research interests, I made the decision to come here for my graduate degree.

What are your long-term goals for the rest of your time at ASU and beyond?

After ASU, my goal is to become a tenured professor. I want to continue doing research in water management and water governance while also being able to teach and mentor future students in their academic and career paths.

What’s your favorite memory at ASU so far?

One of my favorite memories at ASU was going to Grad Camp for the School of Sustainability during my first semester. The school organizes a camping trip for the graduate students each fall, and this event allowed me to get to know my peers and established a sense of community within my program.

What are your top five favorite places to hang out on your campus?

As a graduate student, I spend the vast majority of my time on campus in my office. Outside of my office, though, my favorite places to hang out on campus are the graduate lounge in the School of Sustainability, the Tempe Graduate Student Center and the Sun Devil Fitness Center.