The Graduate Student Parent Advocacy Project (GSPA) Published: December 13, 2016 By: Larissa Charnsangavej The Graduate Student Parent Advocacy Project (GSPA) is one of nine standing projects managed by the Graduate Assembly. GSPA is tasked with advocating for graduate student parents and developing programs to support their academic and personal success. We spoke with the incoming Project Director, Rusi Mchedlishvili, about the role and her plans for the project. To stay connected with the GSPA and hear more about other family-friendly events, resources and updates from Graduate Division, opt-in for emails and join the GSPA group on Facebook. Why were you interested in becoming the GSPA Project Director? I had come to know that there has been a pressing need for proactive graduate student parent advocacy at Cal. Graduate student parents face so many challenges – cost of living, difficulties finding child care, sleep-deprivation – and they have to juggle it all while remaining academically and professionally accountable as a UC Berkeley student. I am looking forward to getting involved in the community and to striving to become a positive change facilitator. What are some of your goals as Project Director? To hear out the graduate student parent community, identify issues and proceed to holistic problem-solving that involves the entire community. I must admit to feeling extra-lucky: here I am surrounded by some exceedingly intelligent, progressive, noble-minded folks, which bodes well for collaborative efficiency! We have the capacity to get lots of good done together! What kinds of events do you want to hold? The list of ideas is long. I’d like to have a brainstorming session with as many people as possible coming together and looking over whatever resources we have at our disposal as graduate student parents, and bring in speakers who could share words of wisdom and expert guidance to single parents in our community. I would like to do an event for expecting parents, perhaps a crash course in planning for childbirth and what comes next. This can also be a good time-saver, not to mention an expense-saver for those who would otherwise be paying out of pocket for prenatal classes. I was grateful to each and every one who came to our first event [a social meet-and-greet for student parents and their families], and to whoever could not make it but was with us in spirit. It was a great start to building a well-connected and thriving grad student parent community.