by Shana Lombard, Communications Assistant
Veneice Guillory-Lacy was elected by students this past spring to serve as the 2019-2020 Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) Vice President. Her running mate and now GPSA President is Ralph Chikhany. Together the two ran on a platform aimed at uplifting student voices and finding avenues for change for graduate students to navigate their educational journeys more easily, the “clear choice for student voice.”
“We just really wanted to illuminate the voices of graduate students; advocate and allow them to understand there are policies that are affecting them and that they do have a choice and that we can make positive change,” Guillory-Lacy said.
Guillory-Lacy grew up in Lapwai, Idaho on the Nez Perce Reservation. She is a descendant of Chief Piles-Of-Cloud. She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Idaho in 2003 and later a master’s degree in education also from U of I in 2013. Between degrees, Guillory-Lacy taught high school classes in the San Francisco Bay area as well as multiple college classes at Northwest Indian College at their Nez Perce location.
Guillory-Lacy is a PhD student in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought program. Her dissertation is on women of color in K-12 administration. By studying women in administrative roles in the education system, she hopes to shine light on the experiences women of color have undergone in these roles.
“My hope is really to see what women of color go through, their actual lived experiences and actual voices of what’s going on. They can be positive; they can be things we can change. Maybe bring in more support for women of color principals and administrators.”
Guillory-Lacy feels her work on campus as the GPSA Vice President keeps her connected to her fellow Cougs.
“In this phase of my PhD and writing my dissertation, it is a very isolating time, you’re not in class anymore, you meet with your committee…You don’t go to class; you don’t see people. You could be at home writing or just be on campus to work and then leave. You don’t really see your cohort. So I thought this was the best time to get connected, get involved with what’s going on in the university and be really advocating for grad students at the same time as writing my dissertation,” she said.
Guillory-Lacy knows she isn’t alone about not feeling connected to the campus climate while working on graduate work.
“It’s not really talked about. The mental health impact that graduate students go through when writing a dissertation and the pressure of getting this degree while at the same time being isolated,” Guillory-Lacy said.
Good mental health is one big initiative her executive team hopes to bring to its constituents. GPSA is working with WSU administrators to make mental health resources more available to graduate students such as counseling, therapy and psychiatry.
Another barrier Guillory-Lacy talked about was college accessibility in general for non-traditional students and how GPSA plans to address these concerns. As a mother to three children, she knows firsthand the hardships one might have to go through to obtain such a degree while a parent.
“I always think about being a parent. I have three children and it’s hard to go back to school when you have kids. If there are ways we can lessen the barriers for single moms, married couples, people who are coming back to school after many years of working, to try to eliminate and find ways to support people who are going back to school, [then we hope to do that].”
As for being a proud Nez Perce on campus, Guillory-Lacy makes sure to bring her teachings with her on campus as the GPSA Vice President. She acknowledges the teachings she was raised with.
“I want to use what I learned from being home elsewhere, to spread what they’ve taught me: resilience, strength, wisdom,” she said. “I’m excited to advocate for grad students and to represent my community, Lapwai and the Nez Perce people, in a positive way and to make my family and ancestors proud.”