The Graduate Student Association has been involved in and hosted many charity and academic-based events this semester, but this year, the GSA is going to be a part of the world’s largest student-run philanthropy.
The GSA will for the first time have a 2013 Interfratenity/Panhellenic Dance Marathon team, with its overall THON chair, Nicole Breeden and THON co-chair, Cherelle Douglas.
Douglas said GSA’s THON origins stemmed from Breeden’s desire to continue her involvement in THON, despite the fact that graduate students cannot be a part of undergraduate organizations that are eligible to participate.
“GSA wanted to get involved with THON, but we knew that THON involved a lot of work and none of the committee chairs knew how to navigate through THON's system,” Douglas (graduate-law) said. “So when Nicole contacted us and wanted to start a THON team, we were more than happy to welcome her to our organization. Because I am one of the Community Service Chairs, I currently work with Nicole to get our organization started.”
Getting graduate students to hear about the new committee as well as give them motivation to join was the next step in creating this new THON team.
Executive Secretary Bhargavi Panchangam said that GSA spread the news for sign ups for the committee through its GSA newsletters.
“GSA sends out newsletters every week, mostly on Mondays, and it has all of the news that graduate students need to know, so we advertised the team to all of the grad students,” Panchangam (graduate-bioinformatics) said. “Currently there are over 9,000 students signed up for GSA, so we have been receiving a lot of sign-ups.”
Due to the recent inaugural involvement in THON, GSA is sponsoring its first annual THONvelope party. According to GSA’s website, the event is scheduled to take place 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in 129A HUB.
“A THON committee provides organizations with supplies for stuffing envelopes depending on amount of requirements they fulfill to help them increase donations,” Vice President for External Affairs Dave Rench (graduate-physics) said. “We have received 270 envelopes with the official THON letterhead.”
Rench said that this event allows GSA to send out THON donation requests to business and organizations throughout Pennsylvania.
Besides GSA’s new involvement in THON, the organization is currently working on more charitable projects, including selling tickets to an event to benefit the American Cancer Society.
“The charity gala is a formal dance and dinner event that is organized to donate money by selling tickets to those who go,” Rench said. “It's a great opportunity for graduate students. There will be a live DJ and band performing as well.”
GSA President Wanika Fisher said that the event is taking place this weekend on Nov. 10 at the Nittany Lion Inn, and that the GSA has been successful in selling tickets for entrance to the event.
Over the course of the semester, Fisher said that she has been proud to see the GSA grow beyond terms of philanthropy and government.
“We've grown about 40 percent in education. It’s been really exciting,” Fisher (graduate-law) said. “We’re growing even more now with our new THON team, and we’re proud to be the oldest student group on campus, being active for 61 years.”