UNM School of Law 3L students pave the way for graduate scholarships while serving on the Graduate and Professional Student Association

March 27, 2024

lawschool grads 2024

Three class of 2024 School of Law students play a significant role in the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) at UNM. Justin Lauriano serves as GPSA President, Paul Havern serves as GPSA Chief of Staff, and Aaron Sharratt serves as GPSA Grants Director.

Established in 1969, the GPSA is the student government for graduate and professional students at UNM. The GPSA seeks to identify, promote, and support the interests and concerns that are important to the welfare and academic development of graduate and professional students at UNM. The GPSA promotes the rights, interests, and profespausional development of graduate and professional students within the university community through advocacy, education, and financial support.

Lauriano, Havern, and Sharratt share their experiences serving on the association. Lauriano explained he ran to advocate for graduate students across UNM. “GPSA is one of three entities allowed to lobby the state legislature on behalf of UNM. This year, I led my administration to lobby for the Graduate Scholarship Act, Senate Bill 233. This bill would create a scholarship fund comparable to the Opportunity Scholarship Act which is limited to undergraduate students. Overall, being GPSA President has been a unique and fulfilling experience. I have gained valuable knowledge about the political process and the lawmaking and lobbying process. I have also gained valuable mentorship from President Stokes, Brian S. Colon, and Provost Holloway.”

Havern shared that one of his proudest moments with GPSA was working to pass the Graduate Scholarship Act, Senate Bill 233. “We worked with Senator Pope in redrafting his Graduate Scholarship Act. The bill aimed at creating a law similar to the undergraduate Opportunity Scholarship Act. In other words, New Mexico residents would receive free graduate tuition. Unfortunately, the bill was ruled “not germaine” but the experience of redrafting the bill with the Senator, the Governor’s office, and a bill drafter was particularly memorable. We were able to draft a copy that everyone was happy with but unfortunately, a 30 day session is just too short. I have great optimism for the bill in the next session. As a result of this experience, I was able to see how a bill is made, and I was introduced to many UNM SoL graduates in the process!”

Sharratt spoke on the ways their leadership brought additional funding to students.
“I became interested in working with GPSA to make others aware of the graduate student support offered and to continue improving the grants program to best serve all graduate students. Getting to hear about the incredible need and the tremendous ways in which graduate students are using these funds has been so motivating and inspirational. I am incredibly proud that we were able to advocate for and see significant changes to the Grants Code section of the GPSA Bylaws this year that will benefit graduate students to an even greater degree in the coming years. The new changes increase the number of awards and maximum award amount to multiple grant programs while also eliminating some long-standing barriers that prevented many students from being able to access much needed funding. I encourage all law students to familiarize themselves with the resources available through GPSA!”