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2024 Candidates

Here are your 2024-2025 Student Trustee Election Nominees! (listed alphabetically) 

 Courtney L. Hatton

Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 2028

Tell us about yourself and why you would like to serve as the Student Trustee for UMass Chan? 

Hello, I am Courtney! Hailing from northern Maine, I'm a first-generation college student now pursuing a Ph.D. Growing up in Maine's rugged environment taught me resilience and the value of hard work. Throughout my non-traditional educational journey, I've seized every opportunity to engage with and contribute to my community, dedicating myself to mentorship and advocacy for students at all levels. Now, deeply immersed in my doctoral studies in genetics and bioinformatics at UMass Chan, I am committed to leveraging my education to make a significant impact.

I aspire to serve as your Student Board of Trustees Member because I am passionate about the UMass Chan community and eager to represent graduate student needs effectively. Graduate student life presents unique challenges and requirements distinct from the undergraduate experience, ranging from academic support to life resources. My background not only gives me insight into these needs but also fuels my dedication to enhancing the support systems for my peers. I aim to initiate and support policies that make a practical difference in our day-to-day academic and personal lives, ensuring that all voices are heard and addressed.

Serving on the Board would be a continuation of my commitment to learning, growth, and advocacy, allowing me to break barriers and foster an inclusive and supportive environment for all. 

Please identify your top three goals if you were to serve in this position in the coming year.

1. Advocate for Student Interests:

Represent graduate student perspectives in board decisions and facilitate open communication between the student body and the board.

Contribute insights to long-term planning that address evolving student needs.

2. Enhance Student Life and Resources:

Improve student services across the UMass system but focus on the unique needs of UMass Chan's three schools.

Push for affordable, quality graduate student housing to support work-life balance.

Advocate for more robust funding opportunities, such as fellowships, grants, and stipends that alleviate the financial burden on graduate students. Work on improving transparency around funding availability and the application process.

Support graduate student parents by advocating for accessible, affordable childcare near or on campus. 

3. Improve Diversity and Inclusion:

Support initiatives that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the UMass system.

Ensure that campus facilities and digital resources are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Advocate for accommodations that meet diverse needs, including physical, learning, and psychological disabilities.

Improve strategies to attract and retain a diverse student body, faculty, and staff. This includes outreach to underrepresented groups, scholarship opportunities, mentorship programs, and support systems that address the specific needs of diverse populations. 

What previous experiences have you had that you feel have prepared you for the student trustee role? 

My commitment to student government and advocacy began in high school, where I served on the student council and was actively involved with Upward Bound, advocating for improved services for disadvantaged students. My dedication continued in college, where I met with Senators and Representatives in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance of TRIO programs nationwide. Additionally, as a Senator in the student government, I played a key role in planning our annual research symposium, representing undergraduate interests. 

Since completing my undergraduate studies, I have remained dedicated to student advocacy by working with TRIO programs to support high school and college students’ success. Over the past four years, I have partnered with leadership in advancing DEI initiatives at the Jackson Laboratory and played an active role in the Women in STEM group on campus. This year, I co-founded the UMass STEMinsts group to support and advocate for women in STEM and medicine across our campus.

These experiences have not only honed my skills in leadership, strategic planning, and policy advocacy but also deepened my understanding of the challenges and needs of diverse student populations. I am prepared to bring my voice and these valuable perspectives to the student trustee role at UMass Chan, ensuring that our student body is effectively represented and that their needs are met proactively. 

How will you effectively represent the UMass Chan student body in this role? 

My approach to representation is built on a foundation of active listening, inclusivity, and proactive engagement.

Active Listening and Engagement: I plan to be available to students across all departments and programs to ensure that their concerns and suggestions are heard and addressed. This open line of communication will allow me to gather diverse perspectives and bring a comprehensive voice to the board.

Inclusivity: Leveraging my experience in advancing DEI initiatives, I will ensure that policies and decisions reflect the diversity of our student body. I aim to create platforms that amplify underrepresented voices, ensuring that all student concerns, especially those from marginalized communities, are considered in decision-making processes. Proactive Problem Solving: My history of advocating for student needs—from high school to professional settings—has equipped me with the skills to navigate complex organizational structures and advocate effectively for policy changes. I will use these skills to proactively push for initiatives that enhance student welfare, academic success, and overall experience.

In conclusion, my role as a Student Trustee will be characterized by a responsive, inclusive, and action-oriented approach, ensuring that all students feel supported and have a stake in shaping their educational environment at UMass Chan. 

Elizabeth Osa-Agbontaen

Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, 2026

Tell us about yourself and why you would like to serve as the Student Trustee for UMass Chan? 

My name is Elizabeth Osa-Agbontaen, RN, a DNP1 -FNP student at the Tan Chignfen Graduate School of Nursing. As a nurse, I naturally strive to create an environment where people feel valued, respected, and empowered, because with empowerment comes change and advancement. As someone deeply committed to student advocacy and community engagement, my journey from high school through my current tenure at UMass Chan has been marked by a consistent dedication to uplifting student voices and addressing systemic challenges. This trajectory has equipped me with a unique set of skills and experiences that I believe make me well-suited for the role of Student Trustee.

I believe that regardless of the school we're in here at UMass Chan, we all share a common realization of entering a system that is in need of repair. It's unrealistic to expect one person or those currently well established in the system to effect the needed change before our arrival in these spaces. Therefore, as student trustee, I envision maximizing our time and graduate experience by collectively striving towards improving tomorrow's healthcare system. Patient outcomes are significantly improved when collaborative efforts are in play, highlighting the importance of normalizing interdisciplinary engagement. What better place to put this to the test than right here at UMass Chan, we have the privilege of being part of an institution that embodies three professions that are at the forefront of innovation and leading the way in their respective fields within the realm of medicine. As future healthcare professionals, we have the opportunity to lead the way in establishing a healthcare system built on collaboration and interdisciplinary practice. 

Please identify your top three goals if you were to serve in this position in the coming year. 

First, I aim to enhance Diversity and Inclusion by promoting initiatives that celebrate the unique backgrounds and experiences of all students at UMass Chan. This involves collaborating with administration and student organizations to promote a more equitable and welcoming campus environment. With supporting student organization and institutional efforts of cultural celebration events that showcase the diversity within UMass Chan.

Secondly, I seek to strengthen Community Engagement by collaborating with neighboring colleges and universities in Worcester to organize joint events or workshops focused on interdisciplinary topics, such as healthcare innovation or community health initiatives. While partnering to provide volunteer opportunities or internships for students, allowing them to gain real-world experience while contributing to the community. Lastly, I plan on hosting networking events or panels featuring alumni who have successfully transitioned to various roles in healthcare, providing insights and opportunities for current students to connect with professionals in their field of interest. 

Third, I am committed to ensuring that the concerns of UMass Chan students are heard at the highest levels of university governance. Through creating student advisory committees or task forces focused on specific issues or initiatives, allowing students to play an active role in decision-making processes and for students to track progress on addressing their concerns. 

How will you effectively represent the UMass Chan student body in this role? 

In this role, I will effectively represent the UMass Chan student body by prioritizing transparency, accessibility, and inclusivity in my approach to governance. I will actively listen to the concerns and feedback of students, ensuring that their voices are heard and amplified at all levels of decision-making within the institution. Additionally, I will work to build strong partnerships and collaborations with student organizations, faculty, administration, and other stakeholders to address the diverse needs and interests of our student body.

Furthermore, I will advocate for policies and initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, recognizing the importance of representing and supporting students from all backgrounds. I will strive to create opportunities for student engagement and involvement in shaping the direction of our institution, empowering them to contribute to positive change. Through open communication, advocacy, and collaborative leadership, I am committed to effectively representing the UMass Chan student body and ensuring that their interests and concerns are at the forefront. 

What previous experiences have you had that you feel have prepared you for the student trustee role? 

In recent years, as a graduate student at UMass Chan Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, I've been actively involved in advocating for initiatives aimed at improving the student experience. Collaborating closely with various organizations within our community, including UMass Light-SMP, the Diversity and Inclusion Office, the Graduate School of Nursing Organization (GSNO), and the Student Government Association, I've worked to foster a supportive environment for all students, including the nursing students. Serving as one of the co-presidents of GSNO, I've organized events and initiatives to address the specific needs of nursing students. Additionally, my role as a GSN coordinator with UMass Light-SMP allowed me to introduce the nursing experience to the efforts of UMass light, over the last two years. Likewise, partnering with the Diversity and Inclusion Office, I advocated for systemic changes, such as academic support for the unique curriculum of GSN students within the Center of Academic Achievement. 

Collaboration with the Graduate School of Nursing, Diversity and Inclusion Office, Office of Wellness-being, and UMass Light-SMP led to the establishment of NCLEX workshops and a half-day retreat preparation program last year, aimed at enhancing resources and academic success for first-year graduate entry pathway students. Furthermore, as the founder and co-president of the African Student Association (ASA), I've prioritized promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. Advocating for the representation and support of African students within our community and raising awareness of cultural differences to provide better care for diverse patients in our city. My efforts through ASA have resulted in establishing a health initiative aimed at Empowering Wellness Within the African Community. These experiences have provided valuable insights into student needs and honed my ability to collaborate effectively with diverse stakeholders to drive positive change within our institution.