Meet Your Graduate Student Association Officer Candidates

By: Graduate Studies on

The following candidates want to represent you.

Voting begins Monday, September 21, and Tuesday, September 22, for the Graduate Student Association Executive Officers.

Take a few minutes to read and learn about each of the candidates below. Vote for who you feel will represent the UCF graduate student body the best. An email will be sent to your Knights email on Monday morning with a link to the voting.


Presidential Candidate

Rija Akbar

Rija Akbar
Rija Akbar

Rija Akbar is pursuing her master’s in Management, in the Human Resources Track. She works for Orlando Health supporting the Executive Director of Human Resources and is an active member of both GOSHRM and ALPFA Orlando. As an alumna of the UCF College of Business
Administration’s Integrated Business program, Akbar knows the importance of developing others and has devoted her time to mentoring other young professionals.

Akbar’s vision for the Graduate Student Association is to empower students to build meaningful relationships and facilitate access to resources that will ensure the success of graduate students through the implementation of increased networking opportunities and professional development series focused on topics like cross-cultural awareness and leadership.

As an Orlando native and second-generation Knight, UCF has played a major role in shaping Akbar’s professional life. From building a network of supportive peers during undergrad to connecting with her mentors, UCF has helped her develop her leadership skills. As President of the Graduate Student Association, Akbar will work to ensure every graduate student has a voice.

Akbar’s platform:

  • Foster graduate student interaction through networking events
  • Create a mentorship program for students to build relationships with professionals
  • Increase financial support to the Graduate Programs through community engagement
  • Advocate student concerns through representation on official university committees
  • Collaborate with Student Organizations to build a strong network

Vice Presidential Candidates

Atiyah Appline

Atiyah Appline
Atiyah Appline

As your Vice President, Atiyah Appline would like to help graduate students feel more connected to UCF while under COVID guidelines. Provide mental health resources and professional development training on how to navigate the workforce post-COVID. Implement a platform for graduate
students to connect formally and casually. Have more scholarships available, and more assistantships open. She wants every graduate student to feel like UCF is their home.

Appline is from Fairfield, California and now resides in Orlando, Florida, working as a Seminole County government housing caseworker. From 2019-2020 she was a senator in student government representing the College of Health Professions and Sciences. She recently graduated with her bachelor’s in social work with a certificate in children services from the school of social work at the University of Central Florida. She currently serves as the secretary-treasurer at the Central Florida Urban League Young Professionals. Appline loves working on political campaigns. Over the summer, she was a fellow for Carolyn Bourdeaux, running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Gwinnett county Georgia.


Loren Cusati

Loren Cusati
Loren Cusati

As a proud alumna of the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, Loren Cusati has spent her post-undergraduate years working for the public – first with a local municipality, and now as the Human Resources Manager for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Feeding Children Everywhere. Passionate about influencing change in her community, Cusati joined the City of Orlando Citizen’s Police Review Board and was recently reappointed to serve a second term. She is currently pursuing her master’s in Management, in the Human Resources Track.

Cusati’s vision for the Graduate Student Association is to connect the student body to resources and to one another, encouraging and empowering students to positively impact their communities and organizations. Graduate students at UCF are champions of the community, leading the charge as Knights around the world leave their mark. As Vice President, she will advocate for programs, making changes that
benefit the current and future student body.

Cusati’s platform:

  • Host frequent development sessions and networking events.
  • Connect graduate students with professionals and students outside their specific program.
  • Amplify underrepresented voices on campus.
  • Increase the visibility of GSA meetings, encouraging student interaction.
  • Work to increase the number of SGA scholarships available to graduate students.

Rebekah Galloway

Rebekah Galloway
Rebekah Galloway

Rebekah Galloway is pursuing a master’s in Kinesiology. As a recent graduate of UCF with a bachelor’s in Sports and Exercise Science and Health Services Administration, Galloway believes in the importance of community at UCF.

Galloway will strive every day to bring the student body closer together by making impacts on students. It is a major concern of hers that all of the UCF campuses across the state of Florida do not directly interact with those at the UCF Orlando Main Campus. She would like to bring the UCF community together, as an entirety, by coordinating a variety of virtual events with different campuses across the state.

Galloway strongly believes that the community should not be bound by personal preferences and/or characteristics. It will be her utmost personal duty to represent an inclusive environment that adheres to the voices and concerns of every individual. She plans to forever hold herself accountable, as well as implement change, in order to foster this type of atmosphere.

It is important to Galloway be a Graduate Student representative to the student body as a whole. She plans to enhance students’ general knowledge as follows:

  • Outreach to students by social media.
  • Create short clips to inform students what opportunities are available (inclusive of COVID-19 updates).
  • Create graduate specific announcements and information
  • Researching and implementing ways to produce more funding for graduate students and research opportunities
  • Create virtual meetings to prepare students on “real world” scenarios and professional advice for post-graduate opportunities (both undergraduate and graduate students).

Giovana Noguchi Potiens

Giovana Noguchi Potiens
Giovana Noguchi Potiens

Giovana Noguchi Potiens is an ambitious international student from Brazil. She has a passion for connecting with others and making a positive impact on their lives.

She moved to the U.S. five years ago, transferred from Valencia College to UCF, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in Finance in December 2019. Currently, she works at UCF Global leading the financial operations for their Intensive English Programs. She began her master’s in Data Analytics this semester.

Throughout her time at UCF, she studied full time to earn a bachelor’s degree, securing two on-campus jobs and two full-time internships. Noguchi Potiens on‐campus leadership roles focused on new UCF international students, and it was my job to support them both academically and professionally. She had an internship with Marriott for eight months where she worked with financial reporting and analysis and a high impact project. She also worked in Project Finance at Disney for one year on the largest theme park-land expansion ever done. In both roles, she developed leadership and complex problem-solving skills, as well as more technical skills like project management and cost strategy skills in financial analysis.

Noguchi Potiens’ mission is to use her background and experiences to mentor female international students to help them achieve their goals. She believes holding a leadership position in the GSA would allow her to continue to advocate for even more students and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed here.


Stefan Price

Stefan Price
Stefan Price

Stefan Price’s platform for the Vice President position would be to ensure the protection of the interests of all members of the UCF Graduate Student body.

Price is a proud graduate of UCF, earning dual undergraduate majors in Mechanical Engineering and Theatre in 2004. He returned this semester to continue his academic career with an MFA in Themed Experience to hopefully graduate in 2023. He has a 20-year relationship with the institution. During that time he has used his degree to work in his field, to serve eight years in the Florida Army National Guard, to start and grow a business, and to marry his wife who he met at UCF (Political Science, 2006), and be an active member of the Central Florida community in arts, theater, film, politics, education, and community events.

Price would be honored to serve his fellow students in representing them with the experience he has gained in his nearly 41 years. His passions in life and business are to build community, and as an artist, he loves to tell stories that connect people together. He believes in fairness, inclusivity, accessibility, and representation. He also is someone who listens to the stories of others and strives to act in the interests of individuals and society.

If appointed to this role Price would work to support the President and his fellow members of the association to share the workload and council each other about issues that arise. He would be the voice of an experienced leader and someone who is used to working on collaborative teams. As a graduate of two different school departments within UCF, he believes he has a unique perspective to bring and would continue to seek out the input of other departments to ensure that all are represented at the table. This is how Price would execute his platform of ensuring the protection of the interests of all members of the UCF Graduate Student body.


Treasurer Candidates

Adedotun Banjo

Dotun Banjo
Dotun Banjo

Adedotun Dominic Banjo is a PhD student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from the University of Lagos. He recently obtained his master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University, Alabama.

Banjo has volunteered and served in several leadership roles. He recently served as a Senator representing the Aerospace Engineering Department at the Auburn University Graduate Student Council. During his undergraduate program, he served as the Programs Director for ENACTUS UNILAG, he was also a Global volunteer in the AIESEC Internship Exchange in CUCG Sunyani, Ghana, and in the final year served as the President of the students’ body – University of Lagos Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Society. He believes serving in any capacity is a privilege and as such should be diligently executed. When he is not in the lab, he enjoys playing soccer.


Giovana Noguchi Potiens

Giovana Noguchi Potiens
Giovana Noguchi Potiens

Giovana Noguchi Potiens is an ambitious international student from Brazil. She has a passion for connecting with others and making a positive impact on their lives.

She moved to the U.S. five years ago, transferred from Valencia College to UCF, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in Finance in December 2019. Currently, she works at UCF Global leading the financial operations for their Intensive English Programs. She began her master’s in Data Analytics this semester.

Throughout her time at UCF, she studied full time to earn a bachelor’s degree, securing two on-campus jobs and two full-time internships. Noguchi Potiens on‐campus leadership roles focused on new UCF international students, and it was my job to support them both academically and professionally. She had an internship with Marriott for eight months where she worked with financial reporting and analysis and a high impact project. She also worked in Project Finance at Disney for one year on the largest theme park-land expansion ever done. In both roles, she developed leadership and complex problem-solving skills, as well as more technical skills like project management and cost strategy skills in financial analysis.

Noguchi Potiens’ mission is to use her background and experiences to mentor female international students to help them achieve their goals. She believes holding a leadership position in the GSA would allow her to continue to advocate for even more students and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed here.


Secretary Candidates

Jessica Sublette

Jessica Sublette
Jessica Sublette

Jessica Sublette is from Orlando, Florida, and earned her bachelor’s degree from UCF in 2016 in Human Communication. She wanted to “see the world” so she moved to Miami for her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. In 2018, she moved to Chicago to work for a small liberal arts college just outside of the city. After a year of city life, she decided there was no better place to be than on the UCF campus. She returned to work for UCF in graduate admissions. Sublette currently works full time as the Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions in the College of Graduate Studies. She is pursuing her PhD in Strategic Communication and her research interests include higher education, collegiate admissions and marketing, and risk and crisis communication. Jessica enjoys spending her free time with her puppy, Brady, DIY projects around the house, attending sporting events, and activities on the water.

Sublette’s platform:

Sublette believes she would be the ideal secretary for GSA because she is organized, task-oriented, and familiar with UCF rules, policies, and regulations as a full-time staff member in the College of Graduate Studies. Her main goal as secretary would be to strengthen social media and website efforts. She feels the Graduate Student Association needs stronger brand recognition. She would like to update materials around campus and make documents or marketing materials for the association more current and reflective of the overall UCF graduate student community. 


Kiara Weir

Kiara Weir
Kiara Weir

Kiara Weir is currently enrolled in the Health Care Informatics MS, Professional Science Master’s program, and was born and raised in the sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She currently resides in Tallahassee Florida, where she is employed at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital as the Unit Secretary for the Behavioral Health Center.

Weir has experience in the Student Government Association from her undergraduate degree at the Florida A&M University where she was appointed to be the Chief of Staff for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Her duties and responsibilities as Chief of Staff were to serve in an advisory capacity on the Student Government President’s Cabinet. To coordinate all activities of the Executive Branch such as cabinet meetings and activities, rallies, lectures, appointments, etc. To sit in all Executive Branch meetings and committees that requires or entails contractual negotiations. Fulfill the responsibilities and duties of any vacant Executive Cabinet position until a student has been appointed to the position.

Weir believes she is a great fit for the secretary position because she has the experience and work ethic. She is very dependable, hardworking, and believes her experience in Student Government can help with the association with achieving its goals. She has the leadership qualities as well as can give the respect of a team member. Despite her location, she will remain committed to this position and is confident that she will be an excellent representative for this organization and uphold its responsibilities. Weir will be completely invested and take advantage of this opportunity.

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