GSA President, Natalie Gleba, hopes to focus on student wellness throughout the upcoming school year

Photo by Luke Sarazin

Since stepping into the position of president and CEO of the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) this past May, Natalie Gleba has begun work on project planning for the 2017-18 school year.

Gleba described the transition into her new role as “seamless,” attributing the ease to her previous five years of experience with the GSA and relationship with previous president and CEO, Samantha Deeming.

Gleba has also finished hiring the students who will help her lead the association.

“We’ve got a great balance of student leaders from different campuses,” Gleba said. “We’ve got two student leaders from the faculty of social work, which is down at the Kitchener location, and we’ve got also a student leader that I hired down in Branford.”

Now settled into the position with her team behind her, Gleba has begun making plans for the upcoming year with a specific focus on student wellness.

“A large part of the discussion around our table so far has been around wellness and so we have several wellness programs and events that are going to be coming up,” Gleba said.

“We usually have some sort of wellness week during the summer term, but most of our planning is looking more forward into September when students come back, so we talked about different peer-run groups for different groups on campus, just to kind of have a different support system available to students that might find that useful.”

Beyond leveraging different groups on campus to gauge and improve student wellness, Gleba mentioned reaching outside of the university to accomplish these aims.

“We’re in the works of building a relationship with a local company called Plasticity Labs. We’re looking to potentially build a partnership with them to help with graduate student wellness,” Gleba said.

Gleba also noted that the GSA’s increased focus on student wellness may alter the role they play in certain events, specifically orientation.

“Orientation on its own is a big project that we all work closely on. This year, the Graduate Students’ Association is going to be running more of the social events and wellness events within the programming,” Gleba said.

“The university partners will be taking on more of the academic piece, so TA training, department sessions, university departments welcome, that sort of thing.”

When asked about desired outcomes from her tenure as president and CEO of the GSA, Gleba emphasized a commitment to better understanding and improving student wellness.

“We just want a real, good understanding on how well students actually are. I think some of the programs we have coming up will really help tell us that, and be able to gear our whole project planning towards that goal,” Gleba said.

“We already know that there’s certain areas and certain times that students are more stressed, so [we ask ourselves] how can we help to better our ability to help alleviate some of those stressors? And what areas can we advocate for on their behalf for the supports and services that they need and may not be receiving?”

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