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Nikta Daijavad

Candidate for Academic Affairs Officer

What do you want to achieve during your term?

I firmly believe that the greatest resource Cambridge provides us is people it surrounds us with. Providing opportunities that allow graduate students to effectively make use of that resource will be my highest priority as Academic Affairs Officer. To that end, there are three platforms I want to focus on: 1) The formation of an Academic Excellence Committee with representatives from each of the 31 colleges, 2) Graduate Study Hours hosted on a biweekly basis by the Graduate Union, and 3) a Study Skills Lecture Series focused on honing skills that all graduate students need. I provide more details about each of these platforms in my manifesto.

What experience do you bring to the role?

During my undergraduate career at UC Berkeley, I served as Vice President of Scholarship for the Panhellenic Executive Council. In this capacity, I promoted academic excellence throughout a community of more than 1,700 students by organizing 16 “Study Hours” events, 3 professional development workshops, and a peer mentoring program. I also worked with the rest of the Panhellenic Executive Council to create the position of a Vice President of Community Development who would be responsible for ensuring the inclusivity of our community, in recognition of the importance of diversity to an enriching academic experience. As Academic Affairs Officer, I will continue to prioritize academic inclusivity to ensure that the benefits of the Cambridge experience are equally accessible to the entire graduate student community. 

How would you like to collaborate with Academic Affairs Officers in the MCRs?

I plan to bring the Academic Affairs Officers from each of Cambridge’s 31 MCRs together to form an Academic Excellence Committee. This committee will meet on a monthly basis to determine what academic resources the graduate community wants to see prioritized and to determine what opportunities exist for collaboration between the different colleges. These meetings will also allow me to compile information about academic programming being done within MCRs that might be open to the larger Cambridge graduate community; I will then disseminate this information to the graduate community in a monthly newsletter. I will also provide time in the committee’s meetings for the MCR representatives to learn from the academic programming being done in other colleges. Finally, I will work with the Academic Affairs Officers in the MCRs to identify and recognize the academically inspiring stories that exist within our graduate community on social media.

How can the GU better engage with communities of graduates who are more connected to their faculty than their college or MCR?

I believe that the Graduate Union’s programming, particularly its academically oriented programming, should include specialized events that cater to the interests of graduates from different fields. For example, rather than solely providing general workshops in the Study Skills Lecture Series I have proposed, I plan to also organize lectures that will address the interests of those pursuing careers in law, medicine, or academia, to name a few. This will provide an opportunity to collaborate with graduates who have strong connections within their faculties in order to help organize and advertise these events.

What ideas do you have for campaigns and events in the coming year?

I plan to host biweekly Graduate Study Hours, which will provide an opportunity for graduates from different colleges and different departments to come together, eat snacks, and turn studying into a social experience. Ideally, I’d like to host these at a different college for each session, to be determined on a rotating basis. Furthermore, I know firsthand how helpful it can be to brush up on basic study skills every once in a while, so I plan to host a Study Skills Lecture Series. This will include presentations from professors, advisors, and PhD students and will allow us to discuss one particularly useful skill in-depth for an hour per session.