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Representing graduate and professional students

A new SGPS executive team is striving to stay connected throughout the pandemic.

Photo of Justine Aman, SGPS President
Justine Aman started her term as President of Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) on May 1. (Supplied photo)

Queen’s offers a wide range of highly-regarded graduate and professional programs that bring over 5,000 students to campus. For most of them, their student government is the Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) during their time at the university.

Each year, students elect a new executive team to the SGPS, and at the beginning of May, Justine Aman started her term as president. Joining her in the SGPS leadership will be Anthony Lomax (VP Community), Tamara Mitterer (VP Finance), Courtney Bannerman (VP Graduate), and John Jeyaratnam (VP Professional).

“As graduate and professional students come to Queen’s from all around the world and at many different stages of life, SGPS works to ensure that the voices of this diverse group are heard. This executive team is excited to work with our peers and meet their needs,” says Aman.

Working for graduate and professional students

A first-year master’s student in epidemiology, Aman served as the director of the Sexual Health Resources Centre this academic year. The centre is affiliated with SGPS, so she became increasingly familiar with the society through her work. When election season came around, Aman knew she wanted to become as actively involved in SGPS as she could.

When campaigning for the position of president in early 2020, Aman laid out strategic goals and stressed several core values that would guide her time in office: transparency; honesty; equity, diversity, and inclusivity; and creative advocacy. While she has had to revise some of her goals in the midst of the pandemic, she remains committed to these values.

Leading through the pandemic

To foster communication with their peers, Aman and the rest of the executive team recently held a virtual town hall. Many graduate and professional students joined their SGPS representatives to discuss the issues facing them at this time. From this discussion, the executive team has developed ideas of how they can best support their peers throughout the pandemic.

“We want to make sure that students know that we’re committed to helping them however we can through this time. We’re all trying to pursue our studies in unprecedented circumstances, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for us to achieve our goals,” says Aman.

As long as the need for physical distancing continues, SGPS will continue to communicate with students through virtual council meetings and social media. Aman has also instituted an online anonymous feedback form for students who want to express their concerns without revealing their identity. And to enable one-on-one communication with her peers, Aman is holding virtual office hours every Tuesday from noon to one over Zoom. 

To learn more about the SPGS, visit their website, and follow them on social media on Facebook and Instagram. And to learn more about how they are helping students during the pandemic, see their COVID-19 webpage.