Iiona Scully, president of the Graduate Student Senate, said she wishes she got more involved with its executive board sooner than she did.
Yet, in the two years that she has been on the executive board, she has made an impact by creating a new officer position and worked on increasing its presence on campus.
Scully said she wanted to see how she could get more involved in the university after having leadership roles in her own department in the College of Arts and Sciences. She ran for secretary with the idea that she would gain more leadership experience and could see how a university works.
“I ended up loving being on the executive board and ran for president the following year,” Scully said.
Scully ran for president of the Graduate Student Senate with a planned initiative of Grads Going Global. Scully wanted to ensure that the graduate student community was knowledgeable of the world around them and how it could affect them as graduate students. As part of the initiative, Scully created a new executive board position called external affairs officer.
Graduate student Zachary Arms is the first ever external affairs officer. Arms said he is the liaison between graduate students and the outside world. He notifies students of any major pieces of legislation that would affect them and advocates for graduate students on their behalf. He has been to Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of graduate students to the office of Rep. Susan Wild (D).
In this new position, Arms is also more in touch with the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, which is a nationwide advocacy group for graduate students. On March 29 of this year, Lehigh and the Graduate Student Senate hosted the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students’ Northeast Regional Conference.
Nine schools from the region came to the conference. Scully was the regional director of the conference and said hosting it was a part of her global initiative.
“I am really proud of the Grads Going Global initiative,” Scully said. “It has been a great learning experience and an incredible opportunity for graduate students to connect across the region and hopefully the country in the future.”
Arms said he has received a lot of support from Scully in his new role.
“I am really appreciative of how supportive Iiona (Scully) has been of the various ideas that I have had,” Arms said. “It’s been really helpful in this new position.”
In addition to expanding the scope of graduate students and the Graduate Student Senate outside of Lehigh’s campus, Scully has been working on graduate students getting more recognition on campus.
“We are trying to communicate more with the undergraduates,” Scully said. “We think that graduate students and undergraduate students can be great allies for each other.”
The Undergraduate Student Senate and the Graduate Student Senate have been collaborating more as well. Scully said there is a plan for the new Undergraduate Student Senate president and new Graduate Student Senate president to meet soon and form a relationship.
Princess Neely, the communications officer of the Graduate Student Senate, said she believes Scully’s leadership skills helped them accomplish a great deal this year.
“She is very enthusiastic, accommodating and understanding,” Neely said. “Because of her and the rest of the executive board working together, we have gotten a lot accomplished this year.”
Scully’s presidency will end in a few weeks after the new executive board is chosen.
She is graduating this summer, and she said that what she will miss most is the people.
“I have made great relationships with amazing graduate and undergraduate students here,” Scully said. “I am really lucky to have met the people I have here at Lehigh.”