March 3, 2023

Student voice and student engagement determined as core value and priority of Graduate Student Association’s plan

GSA's 2023-2026 strategic planning document approved
GSA volunteers at Outrun the Stigma event
GSA volunteers at Outrun the Stigma event. Graduate Students' Association

The Graduate Students' Association (GSA) Graduate Representative Council (GRC) approved the GSA’s 2023-2026 strategic planning document in its January 2023 meeting. The process to design this document involved reviewing the GSA’s previous strategic plan; conducting a needs assessment from survey feedback and interviews; and developing the vision, mission, values and priorities with the strategic planning team.

Saaka Sulemana Saaka, the current GSA president, who took over the project from the previous executive team, has been spearheading the process since May 2023. He says, “The GSA represents the UCalgary graduate students’ voice on campus. Therefore, I am glad that many graduate students were involved in this conversations about the future of the GSA.

"With our new mission of building this community of highly engaged and thriving UCalgary graduate students, the GSA will be focusing its resources on student engagement, addressing graduate students’ critical barriers to thriving, and growing the GSA organizational capacities.”

Graduate students are currently facing many barriers involving financial and mental health challenges. The GSA hopes to keep up the conversations and engagement with graduate students in order to better serve and advocate on their behalf.

Daniella Ikurusi, GSA executive director, echoes Saaka in ensuring that graduate students remain the centre in determining the GSA’s future direction. “Investment in improving student engagement is already underway, and the GSA is defining ways to support graduate students addressing critical barriers through creative and effective use of organizational resources and structure.”

The GSA delivers updates on its strategic planning progress in its annual reports. The GSA appreciates the support and involvement of past and current UCalgary graduate students who took part in the GSA’s annual surveys, consultation sessions, interviews that contributed to the design of the strategic planning document. During this process, our partners at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, UCalgary administration had enthusiastically participated in interviews to provide an external point of view for the GSA. The strategic planning process was facilitated by Sherry Choma, an independent consultant, to whom the GSA shares its gratitude for her expertise.

GSA's 2023-2026 strategic planning document


A community of highly engaged and thriving UCalgary graduate students.


To ensure needed services, communities, advocacy, and growth opportunities are available and accessible for all UCalgary graduate students.

Guiding values

  • Diversity, equity, belonging, and accessibility
  • Student voice
  • Balanced well-being
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Collaboration


  • Broaden and deepen student engagement - Ensure diverse student voice, participation, and leadership are embedded in GSA services and advocacy.
  • Address critical barriers to thriving - Alleviate financial barriers, mental health barriers, and other emergent barriers through service delivery, collaboration, and advocacy.
  • Grow organizational capacities - Strengthen organizational infrastructure, competencies, and culture to sustainably benefit UCalgary’s growing and diverse graduate student community.