2019-2020 Executive Board

The GSA Executive Board (E-Board) is responsible for planning, implementing, and executing the day-to-day operations of the GSA. It is comprised of nine (9) graduate students who are elected for a one (1) academic year term by simple majority from the Senate. The positions are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasury, Parliamentarian, Public Relations Officer, Student Life Officer, Webmaster, and Operations Officer.

Scroll down to meet your representatives




Operations Officer - Janine K. Kenner


Janine is a second-year master’s student in the Music Business & Entertainment Industries program at the Frost School of Music. In 2016 she graduated with honors and received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a research focus in Interpersonal and Computer-Mediated Communication from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Janine will attend law school after finishing her master’s degree and become an entertainment attorney in the music industry. She also intends to bring legal awareness to musicians in her hometown of Detroit. Janine is passionate about education since she is the first person in her entire family to graduate college. Prior to her acceptance at UM, she worked as an auditor in the mortgage industry for two years. 

In addition to upholding the Operations Officer role, she also serves as a member of the Music Industry Association (MIA), a member of Lambda Pi Eta honors society, and is a graduate representative in the Student Center Complex Advisory Council (SCCAC). 
Outside of classes, Janine enjoys going out with friends, learning about Forex trading, shopping, watching tennis matches (since she no longer plays), listening to music, and even picked up an interest in interior design.

President - Alvaro Ruiz Emparanza


Alvaro Ruiz Emparanza is a third year Ph.D. student at the Department of Civil, Architecture and Environmental Engineering. He graduated at the University of the Basque Country (Spain) and did his master’s in Germany at the University of Applied Science FH Muenster, both in Civil Engineering. Alvaro joined UM in Spring 2017 and his current topic of research is ‘durability of GFRP reinforcement and proposal of a new test method to evaluate their bond-to-concrete behavior’.

He is the current president of the Graduate Engineering Student Council (GESC) and the American Concrete Institute Student Chapter. He is also an Engineering Student Ambassador and the Engineering Representative for GAFAC.


Vice President - John Ness


I am excited to serve as the Vice President of the GSA this year and proud to represent the UM graduate student community. After serving as a GSA Secretary last year, I am now prepared and ready to dedicate and contribute more time and leadership to the GSA executive board as VP during the academic year ahead.  I look forward to continue working with and supporting the UM undergraduate Student Government Association through cosponsored academic and social events that promote creative collaboration that will benefit both the undergraduate and graduate students at the U.


One of my main GSA goals this year is to create and promote new innovative and entertaining events leading to graduation and Commencement.  I believe it is of utmost importance to celebrate earning our advance degrees from UM and providing fun and memorable traditions for graduate students to relish our U-nique education and our journey and adventure to graduation.


When I’m not busy at UM, I make the time to enjoy surfing, soccer, Spinning and digital photography.  My life passions are education and travel.  I travel twice every year to Spain to teach and vacation in Barcelona and explore many other incredible locations in Europe.  My ‘amazing race’ continues and I look forward to working with the entire GSA executive board and senators this year to make the U an amazing and unforgettable place and experience to live, learn, grow and play for all graduate students.

#GSA U-nited

Treasurer - Christian Elledge


Christian Elledge is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Cancer Biology Program. His research focuses on how tumors modulate the immune response to promote tumor progression, and to design immunotherapies which combat these processes. He received his B.S. in Medical Molecular Biology from Rogers State University in 2016. He has served in GSA as Senator for his department, Student Life Officer for the Executive Board, and is now fulfilling the position of Treasurer.

Christian is an avid golfer, previously playing both collegiate golf and competitive disc golf. He also has a passion for extreme sports, enjoying activities such as snowboarding, dirt biking, and jet skiing. But don’t let that fool you, his favorite hobbies include online shopping, acting as a fashion critique, and mastering the art of beard grooming. He is a Brickell resident and when not in lab, spends much of his free time studying complex astrophysics or hanging out with friends.  

Parliamentarian - Tarika Sankar


Tarika Sankar is a PhD student in the English department focusing on literary and cultural studies. Her areas of research include Indo-Caribbean feminisms, Caribbean and postcolonial literatures, queer and gender theories, and digital humanities. Tarika has taught English Composition at the University of Miami (ENG105 and ENG106) and is a research assistant at the WhatEvery1Says Project, a Mellon Foundation-funded initiative using digital and computational methods to analyze public discourse about the humanities.


She is also a co-founding member of the Critical Cultural Studies Graduate Student Collective. Tarika represented the English department as a GSA Senator during the 2017-2018 academic year and served as the Public Relations Officer of the GSA during the 2018-2019 academic year. She is excited to join the GSA E-board in her new role as Parliamentarian. 

Public Relations - Lei Sun


Lei Sun is a second-year Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology. She earned her B.A. in English and M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her research interests include psychotherapy process, attachment theory, acculturation, and qualitative research methods (e.g. grounded theory, thematic analysis). She is a student affiliate of American Psychological Association (APA), a Registered Intern in Marriage and Family Therapy (RIMFT) in the state of Florida, and a committee member of the Children’s Initiative of Psychotherapy Action Network (PsiAn). 

Prior to her election to the GSA E-board, Lei served as a senator representing the Counseling Psychology program. She has co-instructed Introduction to Counseling and Psychotherapy (EPS 420) in Fall 2018 and is currently working on research projects in Department of Educational and Psychological Studies and Department of Psychology. With a bicultural upbringing, Lei speaks three languages and is a keen advocator for diversity and cultural awareness. She enjoys quality time with friends and outdoor activities at her spare time. She is committed to promote GSA through multiple means and expand and strengthen its connection with other organizations.

Secretary - Sam Johnson


Sam Johnson is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL). He completed his master's at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and received his BA from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI.  His research interests include ecocriticism, indigeneity, (de)coloniality, human/non-human rights, and their intersections with contemporary literature and film in the Americas. Sam is an instructor in the Spanish as Second Language program in MLL and looks forward to teaching Portuguese while completing his studies at UM. He has served as GSA Senator for MLL and looks forward to serving the wider graduate community as GSA Secretary in 2019.


Webmaster - Chloe Kirk

Student Life Officer - Lorenzo Martino


Lorenzo Martino graduated from University of Miami in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Ecosystem Science and Policy minoring in Entrepreneurship. In Fall 2019 Lorenzo will start a Master of Science in Sustainable Business at the Miami Business School.  During his gap year between undergraduate and graduate he worked at Duty Free Americas(DFA) as a Marketing Administrator Assistant.  At DFA Lorenzo coordinated Golf Tournament Event to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.


Lorenzo joined the Graduate Student Association as a Student Life Officer with the intention to bring more graduate students together and participate in interesting and fun events. Lorenzo passions are environmental conservation, food sustainability, climate change and scuba diving. 



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© University of Miami Graduate Student Association. Last Updated 05/22/19