[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

Participants gather for a group photo at the ODU Graduate Program in International Studies’ Annual Graduate Research Conference. College of Arts and Letters

Graduate Society in International Studies


The Graduate Society for International Studies (GSIS) seeks to create greater unity among graduate students in international studies through academic and professional opportunities; connections to faculty, ODU administrators, student government, and the community; and fellowship among students in the Graduate Program for International Studies.

It bears highlighting that every student enrolled in the Graduate Program in International Studies at ODU is automatically a member of GSIS.

We envision the GSIS as a common forum for its members serving three broad functions: social interaction, academic/professional enhancement and community outreach. As an academic/professional society, GSIS will work as a conduit to the GPIS faculty. We will hold interaction programs where members can engage with the professors informally

Finally, as a community organization, GSIS would provide outreach to the larger ODU community. We envision participating in community activities in the University and the area, co-hosting of social events with other organizations and advocating for better support for graduate students. GSIS would also serve as the link between current students and our valued alumni. In the end, we once again thank all the members for your support and look forward to your participation in our events and activities. We hope you will provide feedback and offer us new ideas to pursue in the future.

This is your Society and only your engagement will make it stronger and more effective in the future. If you haven't already, please join the GSIS group in Facebook and also visit our website. And please feel free to email any of us or talk to us in person anytime.

Let's work together for a wonderful year at GPIS!

Meet the Current Officers

Daniel Shanks, President

Dan is second year PhD student. He is a native of the state of Indiana. After graduating from Coker College with a degree in History, he went on to play professional basketball in Europe for eight years. After retiring from basketball Dan became a Social Studies teacher while pursuing a Master's Degree in International Studies from the University of South Carolina in 2014. Dan also worked as a cultural intelligence analyst and adviser in Afghanistan from 2009-2013. His major at GPIS is on the conduct of US Foreign Policy.

Lyudmyla Demchyk, Treasurer

Mila was born and grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, a city of over five million, but with family ties to the rural agricultural area. Like most Ukrainians, her family is close, possesses a strong work ethic, and values a broad-based education.

Initially, Mila pursued a musical career, graduating in 1997 (with specialization in piano and choral singing). In 1988 she entered the general educational school and in 1995 continued her education at the National Humanitarian Lyceum (with specialization in languages and literature). With an ability to acquire proficiency in four languages, she planned to be an interpreter upon graduation. However, after becoming more practical about future, Mila chose financial management. Eventually, financial institutions are not only numbers, but also creative thinking.

After one year of student life in Germany and graduation from a Ukrainian university, Mila began her professional career in banking. Her ten-year banking career, evolved in international business environment, provided her with chances of using foreign languages and learning about international business practices.

After Mila's destiny brought her to the United States, she started working as a Corporate Accountant within the American environmental company. Later she was promoted to the position of a Chief Financial Officer.

Current Ukrainian events and love to the Homeland encouraged Mila to create a Foundation, which is devoted to strengthen cultural relations between The United States and Ukraine.

Combining years of experience, Ukrainian heritage, and new life in the United States, Mila decided to further her career in the international field. Her intended concentration: promotion of international cooperation through non-profit organizations, international tax laws and policies.

Ryan Nixon, Marketing Coordinator

Ryan is a second year Ph.D student with concentrations on modeling and simulation and conflict and cooperation. He previously obtained his MA in GPIS (2014) and a BA in political science (2012). A former Navy cryptologist, Ryan also has extensive experience working with non-profit and volunteer organizations, currently with ForKids. Although Virginia born and bred, Ryan has seen much of the world, including taking up residence for a brief time in Beirut, Lebanon during the beginning of the Syrian unrest. Upon finishing his studies he hopes to return to Lebanon.

Anita Ross, Event Coordinator

Originally born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Anita is in her final year of Master's level education in International Studies with a concentration International culture and International Economic Development. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Averett University and applies the lessons daily as a manager of a bank. Fluent in five languages (English, Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, and Hindi), Anita lived in Afghanistan and Pakistan before moving to the United States with her family in 2000. Since then she has gone on to be extremely active in the community while working for Special Olympics Virginia as a Director of Development. Ultimately, she would like to work with an International organization such as the UN, NATO or a government agency that will allow her to utilize her language skills and travel the world.

Previous GSIS Officers


Daniel Shanks, President
Khadijeh Salimi, Vice President
Lyudmyla Demchyk, Treasurer
Ryan Nixon, Marketing Coordinator
Anita Ross, Event Coordinator


Jamila Glover, President
Mariaclara Ludovici, Vice President
Bo Ram Yi, Treasurer
Claire Winiarek, Marketing Coordinator
Nevin Mapp, Event Coordinator


Rebecca Law, President
Bill Eger, Vice President
Claire Winiarek, Secretary
Bo Ram Yi, Treasurer
Robyn Headley, Academic Events Coordinator
Maurizio Geri, Social Activities Officer


Brendon Barrios, President
Callie Davis, Vice President
Matthew Hale, Secretary
Bo Ram Yi, Treasurer
Jenna Marcinko-Smithwick, Academic Events Coordinator
Bill Eger, Social Activities Officer


Nikola Kovac, President
Ivan Medynskyi, Vice President
Jan Nalaskowski, Secretary
Owen Williamson, Treasurer
Melissa Rodriguez, Academic Events Coordinator
Scott Duryea, Social Activities Coordinator


Nick Reese, President
Brian Rennel, Vice President
Tasawar Baig, Secretary
Amy Costa, Treasurer
Beyza Unal, Academic Events Coordinator
Ruslan Ismayil-zada, Social Activities Coordinator


Sagar Rijal, President
Wiebke Lamer, Vice-President
Alessandro Shimabukuro, Secretary
Andrew Coyne, Treasurer
Delgerjargal Sukhbaatar, Academic Events Coordinator
Lauren McKee, Social Activities Coordinator


Laura Braaten Gwathmey, President
Hannah Ozment, Vice-President
Sheila Attisha Ryan, Treasurer and Secretary
Chris Ray, Social Activities Officer
Sagar Rijal, Academic Events Coordinator

Site Navigation

Presidential Inauguration

ODU commemorated the inauguration of President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., during Homecoming Weekend 2022. Relive the historic weekend.

Fall Open House

It's time to fall in love with ODU! Join us for our last Open House event of the semester on Saturday, November 19.

Commencement 2022

Visit the Commencement Office for information on event times, caps & gowns, tickets and more!