Agency. Belonging. Excellence. Wellness.
Hi Tar Heels! My name is Neel Swamy, and I am a third year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)/Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Policy candidate at UNC – Chapel Hill. I am very excited to be running to serve as the 2021-2022 Graduate and Professional Student Federation (GPSF) President.
I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, and that August started the PharmD program at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. As an undergraduate student, I served as a Peer Educator for the University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center (SAPAC), worked as a Resident Advisor for a pre-health sciences learning community, and held leadership roles in Michigan’s Alternative Spring Break chapter. I also had the opportunity to conduct a practicum experience in India during the summer of 2017, in which I worked with public health practitioners at Swasti Health Catalyst, a non-profit organization headquartered in Bangalore, India. While each of my out of the classroom experiences have transformed my understanding of social justice, community engagement and team-based problem solving in a unique way, they also taught me that students—regardless of how old they are, what they are studying, where they call home, and what social identities they hold—have the ability to effect positive change in their communities even while pursuing their degrees. Some of my strongest memories, friendships and mentor relationships have emerged from student organizations, and if you’ve made it this far in this message then I imagine that you feel the same way.
I became involved in GPSF during my second year at UNC, serving as the 2019-2020 Director of Diversity and Inclusion and currently as the 2020-2021 Director of Student Affairs. Through GPSF, I have not only formed meaningful personal and professional relationships with undergraduate, graduate and professional students representing a diverse range of backgrounds and interests, but have also furthered my passions for student-centered advocacy. In my roles, I have served on a number of University working groups, including the Provost’s Committee for LGBTQ Life, the Gender Based Violence Advisory Group, the Mental Health Task Force, the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity, and search committees for the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Senior Prevention Strategy Officer leadership positions. I have also co-authored legislation with the GPSF Senate to increase funding for graduate-led organizations focused on anti-racism and social justice advocacy efforts, and am currently leading a cross-campus working group with Student Advocates for Graduate Education in writing a white paper about graduate and professional student wellness. Outside of GPSF, I have served as the Pharmacy Coordinator for the UNC Student Health Action Coalition, President-Elect for UNC’s chapter of the College of Psychiatric & Neurologic Pharmacists, and Vice President for the UNC chapter of Phi Lambda Sigma, a pharmacy leadership and professional development society.
As I reflect on the last two years, and on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Carolina community, I hope to drive GPSF’s strategic vision forward through four values that unite all undergraduate, graduate and professional students at Carolina: Belonging, Excellence, Agency and Wellness. Centering our work around values that are fundamental to the human condition reconciles the “Why” with the “What,” and holds us all accountable to foster a campus community that is empowering, equitable and just. All of the issues I have highlighted in my platform—from interpersonal violence and harassment to student mental wellness to graduate worker rights—are directly related to these values, and it is for this reason that GPSF has a responsibility to advocate around these issues in the years to come.
Perhaps somewhat ironically, what truly excites me about my vision for GPSF is that I cannot materialize it by myself! While I believe that I have the skills and passion to center GPSF’s work around these issues and values in the coming year, I want to build a diverse coalition of student leaders who are motivated to make a difference at Carolina. I welcome you to examine my platform, identify opportunities for improvement, and share feedback with me to ensure that GPSF’s work is aligned with the most immediate needs of Carolina’s graduate and professional students. And, once this election season has passed, I encourage you to get involved in GPSF’s work, regardless of who holds the title of President.
I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to speak to some issues that are close to my heart and central to my vision for the year to come. Thank you for taking the time to engage with my campaign!