In late January, Berke Tinaz was appointed by the Selection Committee to serve as the 2020-2022 Student Trustee. The Student Trustee position is the highest student leadership role at the university and is a two-year, full voting member of the Board of Trustees. Up until Berke's appointment, it had been 10 years since a graduate student was selected to serve the university in this capacity. We sat down with him to discuss his hopes for the position and what inspired him to apply for Student Trustee.

GSS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Berke: I’m a PhD student in the Plant Biology Department in Harris Lab. I was born in Turkey and studied Biology at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, graduating in 2016. I have been involved with various organizations at UVM including serving as the Secretary for the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) this academic year and as a volunteer assistant coach for the Student Government Association (SGA) Rowing Club since 2017. I like to spend my free time hanging out with my friends and working out.

GSS: Why did you apply to be the student trustee?

Berke: Since I started my doctoral degree at UVM, I have been presented with many great opportunities. These ranged from excellent mentorship from my faculty and my peers to travel awards. I was fortunate to learn from my community and give back to others. Becoming a Student Trustee was an incredible opportunity for me to be able to serve UVM in the utmost way. I’m immensely honored for the opportunity to make a difference.

GSS: What do you hope to accomplish during your time as a student trustee?

Berke: I am very excited to be a part of decisions that will shape the future of UVM. I’m hoping to bring a comprehensive student perspective to the Board. My goal is to be a part of a Board that affects the current UVM community and the future of our community in a way that will help the UVM members to succeed with ease.

GSS: What would your advice be to a graduate student who is looking to get more involved on campus outside of their academic studies?

Berke: There are many clubs and organizations that are always welcoming new members. Graduate Student Senate is a great place to start. You can get involved with a variety of things and affect your own education. You’ll also get to meet people that are outside of your educational circle. Plus, there is usually free food! GSS coffee breaks are perfect to meet other graduate students. Come get some free coffee and bagels and talk to us!


For more information about the GSS and GSS events, visit our website.


Jessica Leigh Bocanegra