Members of the Harvard Graduate Council elected Harvard Medical School student Chanthia C. Ma and Harvard Law School student Joshua J. Freundel as the body’s next president and vice president at a Zoom meeting Monday night.
HGC members — who represent students from all 12 of the University’s graduate schools — also tapped five other students to join the body’s executive board. Ma will replace outgoing president and School of Public Health student Bryan O. Buckley, and Freundel will replace Ma, who previously served as vice president of the Council.
Ma wrote in an email that she is “super excited” to work with the new HGC board. As the first elected female president of HGC since 2014, Ma wrote she hopes to pursue initiatives that will foster diversity and integrate Harvard graduate students across the different schools.
“I want to further build a community for graduate students at Harvard, where we will no longer feel like 12 distinct schools, strangers to each other, but “One Harvard” where being a student at one school gives us access to the breadth and depth of opportunities and experiences across all of Harvard,” Ma wrote.
Buckley said he believes Ma’s experiences as a Medical School student representing the Longwood campus and her work as vice-president of HGC will help her succeed in her new position.
“She brings such a good perspective to addressing Longwood issues, which I think a lot of times don't always get talked about,” Buckley said. “She’s a bright person, very organized, she’s kept me organized and definitely been my right hand person.”
HGC held this year's elections on the online conferencing platform Zoom, with members using the poll function to vote. Freundel said HGC plans to utilize social distancing technologies to hold meetings and events, as well as to address student concerns with visas and University housing exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID-19 has led to making certain issues of advocacy which were already there much more prominent,” Freundel said. “[The HGC members plan] to really be there as a resource and to make sure that it’s visible and that everybody knows that we can be there to foster that sense of welcoming even at a distance.”
Ji Soo “Janet” Park, Brett A. Monson, Han “Angela” Zhang ’11, Abhinaya Narayanan, and Heidi K. Brandow were also elected to the Council’s executive board, representing four different graduate schools. The new board members will officially assume their positions May 1.
Buckley said he was “truly impressed” by the new board members’ wide-ranging backgrounds.
“There’s so much diversity in this new group, both from a school background, cultural background, gender background,” Buckley said. “I’m really happy that HGC will continue to be very diverse, which I think is which is one of our core values.”
—Staff writer Callia A. Chuang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @calliaachuang.