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GPSA Presidential Election Profiles: Keith Valles

UNM student Keith Valles says he is qualified to become GPSA president because he works well with people, is good at building consensus and has campus-wide leadership experience.

Valles says he is familiar with many UNM issues — not just those at the Law School. He was an Associated Students of UNM senator and became Senate Pro Tem in 1997. Last year he was vice president of the Hispanic American Law Student Association, and this semester he is working with the GPSA Student Research Allocation Committee. Valles is not a GPSA council member, but said he has worked with the group since 1996.

Valles said student apathy is one of UNM’s biggest problems, and that only 2 to 4 percent of graduate students vote for GPSA president. He said he wants to distribute more agendas prior to council meetings and would like get more GPSA stories published to increase student interest.

He said his plan for getting more students involved with GPSA includes creating a Health Affairs Committee that would consist of medical, nursing, pharmacy and biology students to discuss health issues dealing with funding, curricula and retention within their professions.

Valles added that he wants to establish a graduate, teacher and research assistance grievance office since graduate students do not have a union. He said the office would provide a place for the assistants to resolve problems with their employers and contracts.

Valles said he wants to work on making sure that graduate student fees do not increase. He said he wants to educate students about the GPSA and ASUNM budgets and how the groups can influence UNM policy.

“It’s more than just money,” Valles said. “It’s the ability to affect change on campus — make it a better UNM.”

Valles grew up in Las Cruces and moved to Albuquerque in 1992. He completed his bachelor’s degree in history at UNM and, like the other presidential candidates, is now a student at the Law School.

“The law provides an opportunity for people to address grievances, make a difference in society and it’s something that I love,” he said.

Valles said he is inspired by people who dare to go against the majority when they know they are right. He said he likes to watch movies and collect books in his spare time. He said his favorite non-fiction book is “Ragged Dick Or, Street Life in New York With the Boot-Blacks” by Horatio Alger. He likes to make sketches of people and historical events for fun, he said, and occasionally draws landscapes.

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