GSA Executive Board of Directors

Roles and Responsibilities

Saaka Sulemana Saaka

The President is the chair of the GSA's Board of Directors and enforces the by-laws of the organization. They are the official spokesperson of the GSA. The President sits on the Board of Governors as the GSA's representative.

The VP Student Life is generally responsible for all matters that pertain to the GSA and internal organizations of the university that relate to non-academic matters of the student experience. Some aspects of their portfolio include: DGAs, social events and discounted ticket sales, and overseeing the graduate newsletter.

The VP Finance and Services is responsible for overseeing the general operations of the GSA and the services it provides such as the health and dental plan. Some aspects of their portfolio include: overseeing the Finance Standing Committee and organizing GSA workshops.

The VP Academic is responsible for all academic matters that affect graduate students at the University of Calgary including awards, bursaries, and grants.

The VP External is generally responsible for all matters that pertain to the external relations of the GSA. They maintain an awareness of current issues and developments related to all levels of government. The VP External, along with the President, are responsible for the participation in student advocacy organization.

Thinking about running for an Executive position?

Learn more details about GSA Elections by emailing the GSA President or visit the Elections page by clicking the button underneath.

GSA Elections


Saaka Sulemana Saaka • President

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science. My dissertation explores the gendered patterns of cabinet ministerial appointments in Sub-Saharan Africa. I grew up in a small town in Northern Ghana and I hold an Honour's degree in Political Science from the University of Ghana. In 2016, I moved to Canada to pursue a MA degree in Political Science (with a specialization in Public Policy) at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. I joined the University of Calgary in the Fall of 2019. In my spare time, I like to talk with family and watch/play soccer.

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Cameron Armstrong • VP Finance and Services

Cameron is a pseudo-international student, originally from outside of Toronto but moved to Calgary from Colorado. He is an MBA candidate specializing in Global Energy Management and Sustainable Development. He has undergraduate degrees from Michigan State University in hospitality business and investment management. Until the beginning of the pandemic, he worked all over North America in various roles relating to finance and revenue management. Having moved to Calgary to pivot his career into clean tech and renewable energy, he’s become involved with the Hunter Hub and Office of Sustainability on campus. Outside of school, he enjoys all things outdoors: skiing, backpacking and cycling being a few favourites.

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Masume Akbari • VP Student Life

Masume began coordinating events at a young age, when she used to play outside with her pals. "Let's get together!" she'd say, "and let's play Hide and Seek!"
Before moving to Canada, Masume was a professional land surveyor in her homeland, Iran. In 2016, she moved to Calgary to start a master’s degree at UofC. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Geomatics Engineering with a focus on lithospheric flexure modelling. Throughout 2020-2022, Masume volunteered for various GSA committees, including the Student Experience and Events Committee as the Vice Chair. She also served as the President of Iranian Graduate Student Association (IGSA) in 2019-2020. Masume is extremely passionate to assist graduate students feel connected and included in the University community; the feeling that was deeply developed in her through volunteering for different GSA committees.
A fun fact about Masume is that she has watched the sitcom “Friends” seven times and counting. And, as much as she likes to be a “Phoebe”, she is more of a “Monica”: organized, competitive, and always the hostess!

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James Steele • VP Academic

James is a PhD student in mathematics, working on a category theoretic interpretation of the Langlands Program. Alongside his doctoral research, James is also President of the Graduate UCalgary Mathematics Society, through which he advocates for graduate students in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He is also a founding committee member and organizer of the Alberta Graduate Mathematics and Statistics Conference, an annual event that showcases the research of Alberta graduate students in the field. Outside of school, he is also an avid cyclist and musician, and he loves to relax with a good comic book.

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Alex Cameron • VP External

Alex (AC) is a master’s student in mathematics, studying number theory and quantum information, with an affinity for ecology and climate policy. Born and raised in the Treaty 7 region here in southern Alberta, he holds two degrees in physics from the University of Calgary (B.Sc 2016, M.Sc 2019). Outside of his formal studies, AC loves to spend time in the sunshine, woods, and surfing the pavements along the Bow River.

AC's voice for change has been nurtured by many of the city’s creative communities, having engaged with music and science communication especially. He has come to know first-hand what can be done when communities come together in practice, and is honored to take this knowledge into his position advocating for students as this year’s VP-External for the Graduate Student Association.

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