Having the dean’s ear: the CAS Dean’s Student Advisory Council seeks to serve as a key advocate for student issues at Miami
Throughout the past academic year, six student members of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, or DSAC, found the opportunity to wield a great deal of influence in CAS by bringing student issues directly to the attention of both Dean Chris Makaroff and the academic advising staff.
Recent graduates Bunsi Chapadia ‘23 and Petrina Duffour ‘23 and current students Molly Guiberson, Gabrielle Jones, Peyton King, and Jessica Tachie sat down regularly with the dean this past spring. They also created a short series of “Day in the Life” stories for the CAS Instagram channel to share some of their daily experiences and provide an opportunity for other CAS students to bring up their own questions or issues.
“Meeting with my DSAC team is one of my pleasures of being dean,” Makaroff said. “The members always share helpful insights that provide me with a greater context for our efforts to support our student body. I look forward to meeting with DSAC again in the fall.”
Madeleine Hood, a CAS academic advisor, works closely with DSAC and helps identify both topics for discussion and future student candidates to join the group. DSAC members are ultimately selected from a group nominated by CAS faculty and staff.
“This past semester was focused on rebuilding our foundation with DSAC, and these members have exactly done that,” said Hood. “It is important for students to feel as though they have a voice to evoke change."
DSAC plans to bolster their membership in the fall. Before leaving campus for the summer, the six (former) students reflected on some of their experiences within DSAC and beyond.
Bunsi Chapadia ‘23 - Public Health: Human Diseases and Epidemiology; Pre-Medical Studies co-major
Bunsi graduated from Miami just this month with a degree in Public Health. As an Undergraduate Summer Scholar, she investigated mental health support for resettled refugees from Bhutan. Working with these individuals as part of her research experience influenced her decision to practice medicine.
“They’re little data points, but those data points become people, people who’ve actually lived this life experience,” she said, explaining that she came to recognize the individuals behind the numbers.
Bunsi joined DSAC “to promote equity throughout our college listening to the voices of different students and advocating for their opinions. I hope to foster a community that is receptive to students' needs and works to promote change throughout our community.”
In addition to DSAC, Bunsi was a member of the pre-health fraternity Delta Epsilon Mu, the Honors College student advisory board, and the Bollywood infusion dance team known as Nishaana.
“I love how large Miami is, but it feels like a small community,” Bunsi said. “I learned how to get involved in research, which I think is really unique because it takes everything I've learned in class and actually makes it a reality.”
This fall, she will be attending medical school in Cleveland in a special program at Cleveland Clinic.
Petrina Duffour ‘23 - Biology; PreMedical Studies co-major
Petrina, also a new Miami graduate, was a recipient of the 2023 President’s Distinguished Service Award, a member of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS), and a scholar in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.
“These are great examples of how other groups I am a part of shape my experience and contribute to the solutions we create for students here in CAS,” she said.
She joined DSAC during her freshman year while seeking various leadership opportunities.
“At the time, I had been highly involved in my residence hall's community leadership team and felt that I could also make a positive contribution in improving the culture, resources, and support for students in the College of Arts and Science,” she said.
Her time in DSAC has been collaborative, she said, “as there have been several issues we've had to brainstorm to solve over the years as a team.”
Molly Guiberson ‘24 - Data Analytics; Philosophy
Molly, who serves as the DSAC chair, jokes that she has changed her major at Miami “a solid 15 times,” but she knows that she wants to attend law school after she graduates next year.
“I spend pretty much all of my time on the Miami Mock Trial team, which has a very good legacy,” she said. “Normally we have practices every Monday and Wednesday, but since spring is competition season, we have practices pretty much everyday. There's also lots of traveling.”
Molly adds that her Miami professors have been a great resource. “They will go out of their way to help you, which I appreciate,” she said. “They are really focused on students, and that's probably my favorite thing about Miami.”
Before attending law school, Molly is considering other opportunities, such as the Peace Corps or Teach for America. “I would also like to do non-profit work for women, as I'm very passionate about domestic violence,” she said. “But I know I'll figure it out by law school!”
Gabrielle Jones ‘25 - Psychology, Sociology
Gabby is a Humanities and Social Science (HASS) Scholar and participates in the Miami Firsts program.
“Although DSAC currently has only six students, we are still pretty diverse in our majors throughout CAS,” she said. “Once a month, we sit down with Dean Makaroff to come up with campus issues that we've had either ourselves or what our close friends have told each other.”
Gabby added that she looks forward to seeing “the little changes” that Dean Makaroff can potentially enact over the course of the next couple years. After she graduates, she plans to attend grad school or intern at a behavioral health clinic under a psychiatrist.
Peyton King ‘26 - Organizational Leadership
“I decided to join DSAC to become more involved with Miami and the students on campus,” Peyton said. “It has been an amazing experience being able to bring students’ concerns and ideas straight to the dean.”
Peyton also hopes that other CAS students feel that DSAC is a reachable way to address their concerns. “I’ve been able to support changes to help CAS be the greatest it can be for the students here at Miami,” she said.
One specific objective Peyton was able to accomplish was connecting her Organizational Leadership major to her experience and goals within DSAC. “I think being involved plays a huge role in what changes can be made,” she said. “DSAC has helped me learn how to better communicate for my future career goals.”
Jessica Tachie ‘24 - Data Analytics
Jessica, who has served as a peer career coach with Miami’s Center for Career Exploration and Success, decided to join DSAC to “bridge the gap between the dean’s office and the student body.”
“I chose to align myself with those goals for the betterment of the CAS community,” she said. “My major in Data Analytics focuses on data around people, and this has influenced my involvement with various student-focused organizations on campus.”
Jessica also joined the Office of Orientation and Transition Programs as a Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader (SOUL). “Through this position, I act as one of the first contacts with incoming students and their families and assist on their journey through orientation,” she said.
In DSAC, Jessica hopes to continue “making more students in CAS aware of the resources available to them” and enable them to “share their praise, concerns, and/or recommendations about their experiences.”
Hood expressed pride and anticipation for DSAC’s future. "It is such an honor to work with these phenomenal students as they bring new ideas for change to discuss with the dean,” she said. “I cannot wait to see how the council grows in the next academic school year!