It has been my honor and privilege to serve as co-chair of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) Steering Committee alongside Rayoung Song (University of Massachusetts-Amherst). This past 2018-2019 term, the GSC completed its fourth year as an organizational body within AAAL. Currently, graduate students comprise over one-third of the total AAAL membership, and it is the GSC’s mission to support their professional development, to build a strong community, and to conduct outreach and advocacy. I firmly believe that we were able to maintain the progress that our predecessors had made, and improved with our own initiatives. This work would not have been possible without such a strong and dedicated group of individuals who served on the Steering Committee. I am truly grateful for James Coda (member-at-large; University of Georgia), Jessica Lian (member-at-large; Georgia State University), and Shyam Pandey (secretary; Purdue University) – your insights and commitment have been inspirational! Together, we were able to plan graduate student events at the AAAL conference in Atlanta, found ways to engage with students outside of the annual conference (e.g., webinars on topical discussions in Applied Linguistics, AAALGrads newsletter, creating a YouTube channel), provided representation on several Ad Hoc and Standing Committees, and helped to raise funds for graduate students, among several other initiatives.
In addition, our work would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the AAAL Executive Committee (EC). This past term, I had the pleasure of serving as the graduate student representative on the EC and advocated for graduate students on a range of issues. In this role, I learned a tremendous amount about the hard work that goes into maintaining an organization like AAAL. I was truly impressed with the dedication of the AAAL leadership in addressing the needs and concerns of all AAAL members — and especially its graduate students. A great deal of thought and deliberation went into each decision made. Recently, changes to the AAAL membership dues structure have been proposed. A major impetus for these changes was to make the conference more affordable for graduate students.
As my time as the AAAL GSC co-chair has come to its end, I am incredibly grateful for all of the people that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with -- within the GSC Steering Committee and the Executive Council, through serving on various committees, and through our graduate student events at the AAAL conference. This service to the profession has been a highlight of my graduate student career. It has afforded me with incredible networking opportunities and the opportunity to interact with fellow graduate students whom I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet. For those of you who may be looking for ways to branch out and to encounter other individuals in the field, I highly encourage you to consider volunteering for a GSC event, serving on a subcommittee, or submitting a newsletter article!
Finally, I know that the GSC is in good hands with the incoming Steering Committee who will continue to advance the mission of the GSC. I look forward to seeing how they move ahead!