Representatives of the UNM community gathered at University House Monday afternoon to bid farewell to outgoing GPSA President Brian Col¢n and welcome the graduate student government's next leader - Rachel Jenks.
"It has been an honor working for the last two years to help graduate students succeed," Col¢n said. "After working with Rachel, I can tell you that she will be successful at leading GPSA in the coming year. I can tell from the people here that she has the support of the administration and a variety of departments on campus."
Col¢n presented glass plaques to people who held leadership positions with GPSA during the past year - thanking them for their service. He joked that a few of the plaques had inadvertently failed the test of staying in one piece after falling on the floor but assured the recipients that they would receive replacements within the next week.
Col¢n took special care to recognize Student Activities Director Debbie Morris for assisting him during his tenure.
"To call Debbie Morris the GPSA adviser is an understatement - she is a friend and confidant and works tirelessly daily to help every student on this campus," he said. "When I was first elected GPSA president, she threw her arms around me and told me she knew I would do a great job. She gave me all the support I ever needed and then some, and for that, I thank her."
Col¢n then allowed Council Chairman Hector Balderas to offer some advice to incoming Council Chairman Bill Dials. Balderas said Col¢n was a tough act to follow and he had some simple advice for Dials.
"It has been incredibly rewarding working with GPSA," he said. "The best and worst parts of the job really are the same - learning how to bring together representatives from geology, mathematics, medicine, law and so many other different parts of the campus. I can't explain how to manage all those opinions and egos, but it is worth the hard work that goes into it."
Dials thanked Balderas for his service and said he is looking forward to working with the council and wants to be held accountable by all members of GPSA.
"Although I am a law student, I have a very strong liberal arts background and believe I can be very successful in bridging the gaps on the council," he said.
Col¢n then handed over the original, typed version of the GPSA Constitution to Jenks and asked her to speak about her goals.
She thanked Col¢n, saying that he would be a tough act to follow and thanked him for his service to GPSA.
"I want to thank my opponents, Dathan Weems and Keith Valles, for a good campaign and want to them to know that I want them to continue to stay involved in GPSA," she said. "I also want to thank my mother, who was incredibly helpful throughout the campaign and is here today, as well as all of those who worked on my campaign and helped me tirelessly."
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Jenks said she looking forward to working with representatives from the UNM community and hoped to build on Col¢n's success.
"I was very leery of making any promises during the campaign, but I will make a promise today - I promise to do the best job I can serving as GPSA president," she said. "I will give everything I have to serving this campus and this community."
Col¢n was poised to end the event, but Student Regent Eric Anaya and former Student Regent Jason Bousliman asked to speak.
"I was elected ASUNM president when Brian was elected GPSA president, and I have to say that GPSA has come a long way under his leadership," he said. "Brian was off and running and said that he was going to make GPSA bigger and better than anyone ever thought it could be. He has done just that."
Bousliman said Col¢n's first step was to invite him and other University representatives to a reception he was throwing in GPSA's offices. Bousliman said he didn't think anyone would show up, but to his surprise, the event was well-attended.
"All those people didn't show up then, as they did again today, merely out of respect for GPSA, but out of respect we have gained for you," Bousliman told Col¢n.
Bousliman added that he wished he had a dropped plaque for Col¢n, but said he did not think to bring one.
"What you do have is an incredible amount of thanks, admiration and respect," he said. "And, personally, you have my vote. Just tell me when you need it."
Col¢n said after the ceremony that his immediate plans are to pass the bar exam and help Jenks make the smooth transition to leading GPSA. He did not rule out taking Bousliman up on his offer of political support.
"I would like to continue a life of public service because serving people is what I love to do," he said. "I had two years to lead GPSA, which was an honor. I hope that in that time I was able to leave it in a better position than the way I found it."