Candidate Profiles

Below are the bios of all of the candidates standing for the GSS Executive elections.

Director of External Relations

Matthew McDonald

My name is Matthew McDonald and I’m running for the position of the Graduate Student Society’s Director of External Relations. I’m a third year PhD student in the economics department, and I’m looking forward to getting involved in the important discussion and decision-making that takes place at the GSS and impacts all of us graduate students in various ways.

I am not interested in holding this position just to get a CV line item: the Director of External Relations position offers many opportunities to advocate for and improve the well-being of graduate students by increasing the resources and services available to them, and I intend to take full advantage of those opportunities. Metro Vancouver is in the midst of an affordability crisis that particularly affects those enrolled in graduate programs at SFU. By reaching out to government representatives as well as other, similarly-minded student groups, I can help find solutions for housing, childcare, and funding assistance, all tailored to the lives and experiences of graduate students.

Thank you for considering me for this important position. If elected, you will be able to count on me as a steadfast advocate for the interests of SFU graduate students during these financially stressful times.

Noortje de Weers

I have been the Interim Director of External Relations (DER) since last summer, when I was elected by council. I volunteered at the time to help take some pressure off the other directors, but I ended up enjoying it so much that I decided to run in this election. Since I am already familiar with the DER’s portfolios, I would not need a transition period or get to know the relevant people and organizations that the DER deals with on a regular basis. I really enjoy the work, and would like to continue some of the projects that I started during my time as the interim. Some of the things I have been working on are advocating for family-friendly housing on campus, mental health (in light of recent events), and external advocacy for more funding from the government. I am running for this position not only because I now have the experience and know-how to effectively serve as the GSS’s DER, but also because I believe that turning this position over to effectively yet another interim DER is counterproductive. Thank you for your consideration!

Bugrahan Ceylan

I am Bugrahan Ceylan, graduate student in M.A. in Political Science Dep. I graduated from the Turkish Naval Academy in 2014, with a B.A. in International Relations. I worked in different positions as an officer in the Navy for almost four years. I joined the SFU in Fall 2018. I study over Pacific Sea Maritime Trade Security. I love soccer, snowboarding and latin dances.

I will do my best to contribute to the Graduate Student Society by representing and defending the interests of the Society and the Simon Fraser University outside. My general policy is going to be “ensuring the maximum utility in external representations”. Service in the best interest of our Society and University is going to be my honorable priority.

Vivek Anand

I grew up in the vibrant city of Bombay (now Mumbai) in India. I’ve traveled the world and have been educated in India, the United States and now Canada. My exposure to diverse cultures and people has taught me the art of diplomacy, relationship building and strategic communication. Travels to Egypt, the European Union, the Far East and living with people from Lebanon, Brazil, Congo, Japan, Albania, the United States, Canada and India are the major contributors to building those skills. I am passionate about applying the skills gained while addressing our needs to the SFU student societies, the Administration, Politicians and Government Agencies and Ministries who aim to improve our lives here.

As an MSc Finance candidate at SFU, I’m facing my share of challenges head on and they’ve made me empathetic towards every student’s needs. We’re all in the same boat and as the Director of External Relations, I want to ensure that this boat emerges out of all the storms through the support of all internal and external bodies that want the best for us. Through monthly surveys, access to my personal email and availability to meet students personally, I will proactively address situations that can be an obstacle to making our graduate school journey a meaningful one. I aim to increase the overall ranking of SFU through my contribution.

Director of Finance:

Dapinder Singh

Leadership is an opportunity to serve. I am Dapinder Singh. I have nominated myself for GSS Director elections for the position of Director of Finance. I have done my Bachelors and Masters in Commerce and taught Business and Accounting for 5 years. I have also worked in a Government Bank in India and have experience as an Auditor cum Accountant too. Currently I am doing my M.Ed in Urban & complex schools from SFU Surrey campus. This position is a great opportunity for me to engage with as my past experiences would help me a lot. Moreover finance is the lifeline of every organization and everyone has to pay out of his/her hard earned money. This is not enough to track the inflow or outflow of the funds but it is the judicious use of funds that matters. So that all of us as students do not find any issues related to finances such as unwanted hike in fees, scholarships availability or other issues which may hinder growth of students etc. My work is transparent involving one and all as I believe in- Be the change that you want to see in the world. For that I seek your cooperation.
This I have done with all my soul & heart! Now it is your turn to respond. Thanks.

Md Ashraful Alam

A person will fail the most when he thrives not to fail. That is the simplest intuition. Still we all try and fail and fail again to avoid failure. If we don’t try at all, we will not even perceive the difference between failure and success. I have always tried to be successful, but I failed most of the time. In SFU, in my MSc program, I am an average student with average grades. Always looking for a good result, but rarely getting it. When I look back, I felt the same while I was working as a Management Trainee in a renowned bank Bangladesh. I always wanted to be the best at what I do, but almost always I couldn’t. I wanted to be the valedictorian in my undergrad but had to be content with Magna Cum Laude. I have always felt that I am not realizing my potential. I failed the CFA level 2 exam, and still I am a candidate this year. I have competed in handful of case competitions, but never could be the champion. Yet, I am doing it again here in SFU.

That is the essence of struggle, we never get tired of failure. We all know our limitations, still we try to surpass our better selves, to become the best that we can be. Even if we can’t, the journey is always worth it.

Now, I am on a journey to be the Director of Finance at GSS.

Director of Graduate Services:

Nicholas Page

Hello, I’m Nicholas Page – your candidate for Director of Graduate Programs. As a former Paramedic, Constituency Assistant, and M.A. candidate in the School for International Studies I bring with me years of experience in mental health, public safety, public policy, and governance. It is my goal to use this experience to enhance our current graduate programs, while also implementing new initiatives.These include:

  • Improving accessibility to existing mental wellness programs;
  • Enhancing our current UPASS benefits – lobbying for greater West Coast Express Discounts, free Park & Ride Services, grace periods, and a long-term rate freeze;
  • Creation of a discount food & grocery program – utilising ‘waste’ food that isn’t truly waste on campus, and harnessing the buying power of the university and its supply chains to better serve students and increase sustainability.
  • Renewing the Holiday Hamper Program with support from Private Donors & the Private Sector

In addition, I will work closely with fellow Directors to enhance our legal aid program by working with non-profits, and review recent enhancements and changes to the benefits plan to ensure you are seeing the positive results you deserve.

These goals will be achieved in a fiscally-responsible manner, with no new spending being implied – thus safeguarding the Society’s economic future.

I look forward to seeing all of you in the coming weeks! Please feel free to get in touch – I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. I can be reached via email at anytime.

Director of University Relations:

Thomas Budd

Faculty of Environment Graduate Student, SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Alumnus

My name is Thomas Budd. It is my privilege to stand as your candidate for Director of University Relations.  2018 represents my sixth year of advocating for students at SFU.  I have had the honour to serve on the SFU Board of Governors, SFU Senate, as President of the SFU Economics Student Society, and various university governance committees. As an active participant within the SFU community for the past half decade, I bring a depth of understanding on how to represent your interests to the SFU Administration in a way that fosters inclusivity and open dialogue.


  • Affordable housing for graduate students: Graduate student housing is not scheduled to expand until 2028.  I will work with the administration in finding a balanced approach that will advance the date when new housing units become available to graduate students.
  • Supervision for the 21st century: I will work with SFU as part of their student experience initiative to improve the supervisory experience for graduate students.
  • Standardization of student representation at SFU: I will advocate for a uniform approach to student engagement across faculties and departments that supports meaningful student consultation practices.

I will continuously seek your advice and ensure your message is heard by SFU’s highest executives. With your support, we can continue to build an SFU that reflects our values and remain responsive to our needs as students.