As newly elected president of the National Association of Graduate-Professional School Students (NAGPS), Damon Chambers begins his term in a climate of uncertainty for higher education. NAGPS was formed in 1987 to fight efforts by Congress to tax graduate student stipends. New threats have emerged to graduate student funding and NAGPS is still the only student-run national non-profit organization representing graduate and professional students at the local, state, and national level.
In November, student leaders from across the country gathered at the 2017 NAGPS National Conference at Syracuse University. During discussions and workshops members focused on how the current political climate will affect graduate funding, interest rates for student loans, and student visas. They also voted on the 2018 governing body. Chambers’ platform was inspired by Western Michigan University’s Three Pillars; he campaigned for an advocacy-centered, leadership-engaged, research-driven, financially secure, and multi-culturally aware organization.
Chambers has been an active NAGPS leader as 2015 director of outreach and 2017 director of finance and chief financial officer. He was instrumental in bringing the 2013 national conference to WMU and has encouraged WMU Graduate Student Association executive board members to serve in leadership positions with NAGPS. He received a Masters of Art degree in blindness and low vision studies in 2014 and an MA in school counseling in 2015. He is expected to receive his doctorate in counselor education at WMU in 2019. In addition to serving as president of GSA from 2013 to 2016, Chambers currently holds the position of director of advocacy and legislative affairs for 2017-18.
From his home country Jamaica, where he earned a BS at the Mico University College, to Western Michigan University’s Board of Trustees, where he holds a graduate associateship, Chambers has made a global impact. Under his leadership the graduate student body changed its name from the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) to the Graduate Student Association. He was instrumental in expanding GSA’s executive board to include 18 members, giving more graduate students a chance to engage in participatory governance. Additionally, his administration implemented Grad Talks, giving graduate students opportunities to present their research in a public forum. For more information on GSA, please visit their webpage at www.wmich.edu/gsa/