Community Starts Here

Today’s post comes from Lisa Ahrendt, a second year MPA/MAAA student, as well as Graduate Student Association President.

When I began orientation last August I had no idea what the year would have in store for me. Because I came from a relatively small undergraduate college, relating to other students was not difficult – everybody knew everybody, and connections were easy to make. Needless to say, coming to a larger institution made me nervous; I was worried that I wouldn’t develop the strong relationships that I did during my undergraduate time.

So once the orientation festivities began, I made sure that I participated as much as I could, including the Graduate Student Association (GSA) social events. I soon realized that this organization’s purpose was to connect the many different students of SPEA, and develop a strong sense of community. Thus began my involvement with the organization; first as the Arts Administration representative, and now as the incoming president.

SPEA is comprised of so many different personalities. There are students interested in policy, finance, education, environmental studies, and the arts. It is the Graduate Student Association’s (GSA) mission to connect all these people. Not only does the GSA create bonding events for SPEA students, but they also design events meant to connect students to the school, as well as the greater Bloomington community.

The GSA is planning many exciting things this upcoming school year. The graduate student lounge in SPEA is being renovated this summer, a project that was initiated by the past president, Leslie Butwin. This school year is the 40th anniversary of the founding of SPEA, so the GSA is planning on collaborating with numerous other student organizations on service initiatives and social activities. The ultimate goal of all of these initiatives will be to unite all SPEA students to each other and the school in order to continue the strong sense of community.

This year the GSA will continue to establish the community that is so fundamental to the success of SPEA students and the school as a whole. As I begin planning for the school year I become more excited to meet all of the new SPEA community members!


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