Graduate Student Association Elections

By: Graduate Studies on

The following candidates want to represent you.

Voting begins Monday, April 1 – April 3 for the Graduate Student Association Executive Board.

Take a few minutes to learn about them and vote on Monday for the best candidates who will represent the UCF graduate student body.


Presidential Candidates

Siobhan Deering

I am an international student from the UK studying for my master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, concentrating on culture and communication. Moving to a new city can be complicated, having graduate-specific, affordable housing would have been beneficial to me, and many others, that is why I am aiming to work with housing and apartment complexes to establish housing options that are conducive to the needs of graduate students. Additionally, coming to a new university meant leaving friends and family behind, my plan for next year is to create diverse events to allow graduates to foster new friendships with one another through a multitude of social events and networking opportunities. The aim is to have these events cater to different schedules and enhance the graduate student experience.

As a graduate student juggling classes and other commitments can be challenging; therefore, I am proposing more resources to support academic life and nurture good mental health.  I have worked with international students in the UK, the US, and France and understand the importance of diversity in many forms and aim to bring this to the presidency position.

  • More social and networking events for graduate students.
  • Working with housing to create more accessible and affordable accommodations for graduate students in the local area.
  • Support for graduate students, specifically mental health resources, creating funding options for research and travel, and academic support.
  • Working with different university organizations to engage with graduate students
  • More inclusion and diversity within the graduate student association

Rachel Friant

My name is Rachel Friant (pronouns: she/her/hers) and I am pursuing my Master’s in Political Science with a graduate certificate in Public Administration. Being a proud UCF Knight for some time now, I also received my undergraduate degrees in Political Science and English Literature. Born and raised in Orlando, I am happy to call UCF home. Staying involved on campus and in my community has afforded me unique opportunities that have refined my skills and interests of catering to student needs.

Throughout my graduate career I have valued my time at this university but have also identified areas for optimization. Graduate students make up almost 14% of the student body and should be funded and attended to accordingly. I know first-hand that we are capable from a student position; My experience advocating for graduate student interests within the Student Government Association (SGA) lends credence to that notion. During my time as a Senator, I have passed legislation that reduces the costs of transcripts, encourages higher enrollment and UCF-retention in our graduate programs, and increases accessibility to SGA funding and University facilities. Continuing to move forward, if elected there are 4 main platforms points I intend to implement and work towards:

  • Increase and standardize GTA / GRA pay rates
  • Standardize graduate orientation standards across the College
  • Expand collaboration with Graduate Outreach
  • Continue working with administration, SGA, and Graduate Outreach to convert GSA to an independent agency

Diane Lieu

Diane is a first-generation student, and a two-time Knight. After graduating with her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2015, she taught English in Vietnam on a Fulbright. Wanting to stay close to education, Diane joined City Year the following year as an AmeriCorps Member working with 3rd graders in Jacksonville, and then continued on as a Team Leader working with 9th graders in Orlando. This led her to pursue her Master’s in Instructional Design and Technology.

She’s currently interning at Universal Creative and enjoys working on the next great thing every day. Diane’s dream for the Graduate Student Association is to build a thriving community. Without people, it’s pointless.

To quote John Green, “In the end, at least in my experience, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.” To be worthwhile, a GSA not only serves, but involves students in the process.

  • Use the General Body Meetings to not just communicate details that an email could, but to make meaning. Graduate students are thought leaders and should be given the platform to connect with and contribute to their community.
  • Host conference calls specifically for online students. Rather than streaming something that was designed to be an in-person thing, it’s more impactful to create a space with distance students in mind.
  • Complete needs assessments to develop events that meet one or more of the following criteria: engaging, enriching, or entertaining. Events should always meet a real need.

Dominique Louissaint

My name is Dominique Louissaint and I am a second-year master’s student in Chemistry Education (Grades 6-12). Currently, I am a graduate assistant with iStem. I was raised in Tampa, FL and like to travel to new places in my spare time. I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. My future goals are to teach high school chemistry and obtain my Ph.D. and teach education courses at the collegiate level. I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Psychology from UCF. During my collegiate career, I served a Secretary, Event Coordinator, and Historian for different organizations, and was a Resident Assistant. I will always and forever be a KNIGHT! 

As a leader I think it is important to develop authentic relationships and interpersonal communication is imperative to the success of a team to execute a vision. In life it is important to not only build your success but to uplift and help others fulfill their own definition success. If I am honored with this position I would like to connect graduate students with resources that may have not known that UCF offers through newsletters and connect graduate students off-campus to university involvement.      


Candace Rodriguez

I graduated in May 2015 from the University of Central Florida with my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Marketing. Throughout my time at UCF I have been a leader, mentor, and devoted mom. I have also been a member of numerous clubs including The Professional Selling Program, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, and DECA. Currently, I am working towards a

Master in Career and Technical and a Master in Business Administration. I am the Graduate Assistant for Multicultural Academic & Support Services. As the UCF Graduate Student Association President, I will advocate for all Graduate Students’ needs. I plan to have a monthly forum to better understand all graduate students’ necessities. I plan to meet with the SGA president Kyler Gray on a monthly basis to continue the process to become a UCF agency. I plan to implement a graduate mentoring program with undergraduate students. I propose to have more graduate family-friendly events and socials. I believe in fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion that allows all students to find a home here at UCF.

  • Hold monthly forums
  • Advocate for all graduate students ‘concerns
  • Meet with SGA President Kyler Gray on a monthly basis
  • Implement Graduate Mentoring Program with undergraduates
  • Advocate for more SGA scholarships for graduate students
  • Continue the process to become a UCF agency
  • Plan more graduate family-friendly events and socials
  • Advocate for SGA to increasing the Conference Registration and Travel
  • Funding

Vice President Candidate

Michael Riley

Michael Riley is currently a graduate student working towards his Master’s in Health Service Administration. He graduated from UCF in 2017 with his Bachelor’s in Health Science Pre-Clinical. Michael’s career goal is to become a pediatric dentist; he has always loved making people smile, so he chose a profession where he can help enhance those smiles.

He was born and raised in Florida and loves to call Orlando his home. Michael is a current Senator for the Student Government Association where he works to help undergraduate and graduate students alike. The office of GSA Vice President holds a great deal of responsibility, Michael will work to UKnight GSA with the student body, and IgKnight a passion for GSA. If elected Michael hopes to accomplish these key points while in office,

  • Work alongside SGA to ensure grad needs are being met.
  • Host social and educational events.
  • Restructure meetings to be more interactive.
  • Help connect each grad student with others from their program and beyond.
  • Work for representation for each graduate RSO at the monthly meetings.
  • Work to have GSA representation at all graduate orientations.
  • Ensure retreats encompass ideas from graduate students and are accessible to all.
  • Work to create an undergrad workshop program to recruit future members.

As John F Kennedy said “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try” let us accomplish great things together and try to make an impact.

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