Nov 3, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
Last Spring, the Student Government Association (SGA) held its annual election for new leadership. David Scripka won the presidency for Graduate SGA and Quintin Kreth was elected as Executive Vice President.
Meet Scripka and Kreth, learn what brought them to Georgia Tech, and discover what Grad SGA has accomplished and what it hopes to achieve.
- Major: Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering
- Year at Tech: 7th
- Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
As president of Graduate SGA, Scripka represents the graduate student body and advocates for its needs to the senior administrators, faculty, and staff of Georgia Tech. He also manages all campuswide initiatives of Graduate SGA.
Scripka works with faculty and administrators to improve the lives and overall experience of all graduate students at Tech.
“I advocate for policy changes, initiatives, and programs that address the unique challenges that graduate students face,” he said. Scripka realizes that graduate students have different needs from undergrads. They are often funded by assistantships and fellowships and are on campus with a specific purpose.
Most graduate students at Tech are international, don’t live on campus, and take their classes within a single school. These three traits can lead to isolation within the graduate community, Scripka said. He wants to combat this by encouraging graduate students to get involved with SGA or other organizations.
Outside of SGA, Scripka is involved with PhD2Consulting Club, a divergent interest from his academic work. In the future, he plans to apply his knowledge of Materials Science and Engineering to a consulting or government-related field.
As is the case with many graduate students, Scripka started his path to graduate school as an undergraduate researcher. During his undergraduate studies at Tech, Scripka began participating in research. He was involved in a range of different research projects that were generally focused on "the dynamic mechanical responses of complex materials."
“Now, the goal of my research is to help us better understand how complex materials behave in extreme environments.” For example, Scripka studies the performance of titanium alloys applied in spaceships.
Outside of SGA, Scripka is involved with PhD2Consulting Club. In the future, he plans to apply his knowledge of Materials Science and Engineering to a consulting or government-related field. To first year students, he said, "It’s important to explore career paths outside of your degree and take elective classes in different fields to gain broad exposure in diverse areas". Scripka's interest in governmental work stems from his experience with Grad SGA, which he initially viewed as an organization outside of his comfort zone.
Scripka hopes graduate students will recognize their own ability to get involved and join the work of Graduate SGA.
“You can actually make a difference,” he said. “The administration really cares and is looking for graduate input.”
- Major: Ph.D. in Public Policy
- Year at Tech: 2nd
- Hometown: Monroe, Oregon
Kreth describes himself as “a sanguine Pacific Northwesterner who enjoys exploring parks throughout Atlanta.” His favorite memory of Tech has been rushing the football field after last year’s Florida State game, despite having a broken arm.
Kreth’s advice to freshmen is, “If you’re going to change your major, do it once and do it soon.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon, Kreth came to Tech to study public policy. He is researching state-level interventions in scientific and technological policy, both from a human capital and economic development approach, as well as higher education in rural development. Kreth was a teaching assistant for the course Government of the United States and is considering teaching as a potential career.
Kreth serves as executive vice president and chairman of the Graduate Student Senate for Graduate SGA. He plans to improve the quality, quantity, and accessibility of services offered to graduate students at Tech.
Kreth encourages other graduate students to get involved in SGA.
“There are tons of opportunities to gain leadership and make an impact on campus," he said. Kreth notes the culture difference between graduate and undergraduate students and is hoping to better the graduate experience. For Graduate SGA to accomplish this, though, graduate students need to give them input on what is important to them.
Both Scripka and Kreth are passionate about increasing services for graduate students specifically. Currently, they are focused on developing a “grad-only” space in both the renovated Student Center and Library. They believe that graduate students would greatly benefit from a more relaxed, controlled space.
In the past, Graduate SGA negotiated the Student Blue health care plan. This was a major accomplishment for Graduate SGA since graduate students are required to have health insurance by USG Institution policy. Now all students are eligible to receive important health services.