Graduate Student Association

The GSA and the Graduate School work together to assist students with travel costs for academic conferences. The GSA places students on campuswide committees to ensure concerns of graduate students are heard.


2017-18 GSA Executive Committee

The GSA Executive Committee advocates for the graduate student population by addressing student concerns, promoting events, and encouraging involvement in the graduate community.  The GSA Executive Committee can be contacted at

GSA general meetings: TBD


Executive Committee:‌‌

‌Justin Liang, President

Justin Liang

I am currently a Master of Science student with a concentration in finance at the VCU School of Business. I also work full-time as a budget analyst for one of the Commonwealth of Virginia executive branch agencies. The first GSA event I went to was the bowling night event and I joined GSA soon after.


‌Shawn Hakim, Vice President

Shawn Hakim

I am a PhD candidate in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research with a concentration in cancer and molecular medicine. My research goal is to investigate the structure/function relationships of the prolactin receptor in breast cancer. I served as the GSA president for two years and held leadership roles in a few student organizations/committees. I really enjoy being involved in student organizations and volunteer in community based projects/orgs to better serve both the VCU student body and Richmond community. I am excited to work with the GSA again this academic year in a slightly different role to serve the graduate student body.


Kimberly Rahimian, Secretary

Kimberly Rahimian

As the newest officer for GSA, I am excited to learn about how I can contribute to this role. Currently, I am a first-year graduate student in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program in the VCU School of Allied Health. Originally from southern California, I am learning about my new environment as a recent Richmond transplant with my husband and dog. I enjoy trying new food, traveling, and being involved in the community.


‌Jacob Steckman, Treasurer/Appropriations Chair

Jacob Steckman

My VCU journey has led me from a Bachelor’s in Business to studying advertising at the VCU Brandcenter. While at school, I took an online job teaching English to Chinese students in Beijing. When I’m not studying or teaching, I enjoy exploring RVA with my dog


Traci Luu, Communications Chair

Traci Luu

I am pursuing a M.S. in Business with a concentration of Global Marketing Management at the School of Business. While in school, I work as a Recruitment Graduate Assistant, recruiting transfer students. When I have free-time I enjoy traveling and trying new cuisines. 


Ellen Stuart-Haentjens, Symposium Chair

Ellen Stuart-Haentjens

I am a PhD candidate in VCU’s Integrative Life Sciences program. My research focuses on forest and wetland carbon cycling resilience following moderate to severe disturbance. I also instruct introductory biology labs and co-direct Environmental Scholars, a new mentoring program that provides ecological research experience to VCU undergraduates. While I am currently in my third year of the ILS PhD program, I have been a VCU graduate student for five years (previously earning my MS in the VCU Biology program). My time as a VCU graduate student has opened many doors for me and I am excited to give back to the community.


Ahmed Abdelkader, Event Chair

Ahmed Abdelkader

I am currently a PhD student in the department of Chemistry at VCU. I have worked as a teaching and ‌research assistant since Fall 2015. I started to organize and oversee most of the events at GSA in 2016. I love helping and reaching out to the fellow graduate students here at VCU. Apart from the unique opportunities that the GSA offers, I like the social experience and the many friends I have made since I joined.



School/College Representatives:

Rachel Childs, Representative - School of Allied Health

Apurva Tadimari Prabhakar, Representative - School of Dentistry

Shivakuma Hunagund, Representative - School of Engineering

Ali Martell, Representative - College of Humanities and Sciences

Lee Hodge, Representative - College of Humanities and Sciences

Jessica Russo, Representative - Wilder School