Graduate Student Advisory Board

Current Board Members

<h4 align="center">Kai Carey</h4>

Kai Carey

4th Year Public Health PhD Student

"FIU‘s campus diversity is its greatest strength and it’s important to continue to support that strength. I‘m happy to be the ear to the ground and a voice for all graduate students, to ensure that common policies and decisions aren’t disproportionately impacting marginalized communities."

<h4 align="center">Abhijeet Chodankar</h4>

Abhijeet Chodankar

5th Year Mechanical Engineering PhD Student

"I feel it is important for graduate students to have several channels through which they can understand personal, professional, and academic needs clearly, apart from the conventional methods. I want to help the university work together with its graduate students as a team."

<h4 align="center">Nicole Chlebek</h4>

Nicole Chlebek

2nd Year Biology PhD Student

"FIU’s graduate programs have a unique potential for growth, community, and opportunity. I deeply care about fostering equitable and inclusive practices within a university setting, to aid students who have marginalized identities and backgrounds, and help bring the FIU community closer together. A university like ours should uplift students and provide as much support toward their growth as it can."

<h4 align="center">Hayley Dawson</h4>

Hayley Dawson

4th Year Legal Psychology PhD Student

"I believe good representation can help graduate students who may otherwise struggle, flourish. All students have different needs to be successful in their education, and I want to be part of that process of helping. I am interested in advocating for changes both big and small that will help all students reach their highest potential."

<h4 align="center">Melissa De Jesus</h4>

Melissa De Jesus

3rd Year Mathematics PhD Student

"I think a lot of good could come from some comradery amongst graduate students. In having more social and showcasing events throughout the semester, not only could we help spark potential collaborations to enhance our academics, but we could also open the door for more support and guidance from each other that could improve overall mental well-being of our students."

<h4 align="center">Shanece Esdaille</h4>

Shanece Esdaille

3rd Year Materials Science & Engineering PhD Student

"In order to develop students into scholars I believe that it is imperative not only to cater to their academic needs, but to be abreast of the concerns in students’ personal and professional lives. By addressing some of these needs and pointing students toward helpful resources, we can make a real difference."

<h4 align="center">Kimiko Ferguson</h4>

Kimiko Ferguson

5th Year Chemistry PhD Student

"Graduate students are an integral part of the college life as we most times play the role of students of the institution and instructors to undergrads. Being a representative of my fellow graduate students allows me to bring to the forefront the issues affecting them, helping ensure that we make graduate student life better."

<h4 align="center">Nicholas Gonzalez</h4>

Nicholas Gonzalez

Computer Science MS Student

"I am very passionate about student life and want to make an impact on the bigger picture of those around me. I believe one of the biggest needs is career reinforcement. I am interested in fostering university-wide efforts to connect students pursuing a graduate degree with opportunities to better their work life and career prospects."

<h4 align="center">Amanda Knapp</h4>

Amanda Knapp

2nd Year Public Affairs PhD Student

"I am the coordinator for the FIU Ferre Institute for Civic Leadership. I also serve on the Public Affairs on the boarding committee, and as the Advisor for the Empowering Women in Law student club. As a full-time FIU student and full-time FIU employee, I provide a unique perspective that addresses both the student and administrative ends of the University."

<h4 align="center">Jazmin Locke</h4>

Jazmin Locke

6th Year Earth & Environment PhD Student

"I think it is important for graduate students to know what is expected of them in order to foster a successful academic career, and institutional community building can be a way to address this. I want to help create and reinforce institutional support to communicate effectively with grad students and help bring individuals at similar stages of their degree together."

<h4 align="center">Sloan Lorenzini</h4>

Sloan Lorenzini

4th Year Social Welfare PhD Student

I have served the International Association for Social Work with Groups (IASWG) and the Florida Institute for Group Facilitation as a contributing leader. As someone who holds and enjoys leadership positions, I know that the administrative process is cumbersome and often requires streamlining. FIU is very large: identifying specific requests from students can help guide them in receiving the resources and benefits the university has to offer.

<h4 align="center">Ikechukwu Onwuka</h4>

Ikechukwu Onwuka

2nd Year Earth Systems Science PhD Student

"The graduate school experience goes beyond education and includes livable stipends, mentorship and community, as well as mental health and wellness. I want to brainstorm ideas and develop solutions that will make the graduate school experience better suited to serve and retain students, and to ensure that we have the best possible research training while fostering balanced student living."

<h4 align="center">Ana N. Perez</h4>

Ana N. Perez

Human Resource Management MS Student

"We must find creative ways to stay connected with all our students. FIU has many benefits, programs, events, etc., which I feel would improve with a higher degree of awareness in the graduate student body. I want to be a part of making that happen, to make FIU the school of choice for years to come."

<h4 align="center">Felisha Portnov</h4>

Felisha Portnov

Healthcare Management Online MBA Student

"Graduate students face a lot of time management problems and less social engagement on campus. I would like to find more ways for graduate students to be engaged on the various FIU campus and be more active in making connections with alumni and other peers."



The mission of the Graduate Advisory Board (GAB) is to serve as the voice for the graduate student community. GAB provides feedback to the University Graduate School and other university entities invested in graduate education on various topics, including:

  • effective communication of policies and procedures and other timely information to students;
  • opportunities to become involved at the graduate level;
  • accessibility to campus resources;
  • academic success and student retention; and
  • feedback on graduate living and learning experience.


GAB is charged with conveying graduate student needs – personal, professional and academic – , programming ideas and policy concerns to the UGS. The University Graduate School would like input from an array of students and disciplines. It is important to have feedback from a representative cross-section of the graduate student community.

The structure for the GAB includes student representation from diverse academic disciplines and the FIU Graduate Student Funding Committee (GPSC) – a committee of the Student Government Association (SGA).

GAB will meet once or twice a month over the academic year.


Applications to become a GAB member open on a yearly basis. The 2023-2024 application cycle will open at the beginning of the Fall 2023 term.

Should you have additional questions regarding the GAB, please contact Ms. Claudia Balzán, Assistant Director, at