2022-2023 SPJ Candidates

Voting has begun!

Please select only ONE candidate in each category. You need not vote in each category if you do not wish to do so.


Voting is open until Thursday, Sept.22 at 4 p.m. Results will be announced the same day at 6 p.m.

Each J-school student is eligible to cast one ballot for the elections.

While the votes will be kept confidential, we need you to fill in your name and e-mail to ensure the integrity of the ballot.

All ballots are final – no changes are allowed. PLEASE FILL IN CAREFULLY

Last Name
First Name
E-mail address
Your PID


Sarah Aoyagi
Niroja Arulananthan

Ava Anderson
Debadrita Sur

Meet the officers who ran unopposed and are not appointed
Vaidik Trivedi

Kevin Lind

Andrea Quezada

Natalie Novakova


Sarah Aoyagi, M.S. Full-time
past education: Bachelors, Waseda University
I have a plethora of experience to help me fulfill the duties of this role. My most recent of these experiences is being the Table Chief of the International Student Conference. As Table Chief, I assembled a team of researchers from across the globe and began a year-long deep dive into political activism in Japan, specifically focusing on how educational institutions can increase political participation. A policy proposal was created over the course of the year and the conference wrapped up with the proposal being submitted to Japan’s Ministry of Education for their consideration. Other past leadership offices I have held include being Captain of the Varsity Cheer team, lead female anchor of the school news program, EOP News, Undersecretary General of Communications for Model United Nations, and Head of Leadership at the Rolling Hills Covenant Church. Although the positions range across varying fields, skills that I have honed across the board have been teamwork and gaining trust.
why vote for me: My classmates should elect me to this position because I am committed to the wellbeing of the student body in its entirety as well as the success of all students in all programs. I do not take the responsibility of being the representative of the student body lightly by any means. This is an immense responsibility that I am more than prepared to take on. I will effectively execute my role bridging the student body to the administration by being all ears to any and all concerns students may have and relaying them in a swift manner with pre-proposed solutions in tow. Students will also have the option to voice any issues anonymously as well to ensure that all concerns are addressed. I am an organized multitasker with decision making and problem solving skills. I think fast on my feet and adapt to change seamlessly. I think outside of the box as well as critically, all skills that I strongly believe qualify me for this role. Thank you very much for your consideration in advance.

•Niroja Arulananthan, M.S. Full-time
past education: BA (Honors in English and Sociology) & MA (Adult Education)
qualifications: I believe my past experiences make me a strong candidate for the role of SPJ President. I previously served as the Student President of the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. In this capacity, I liaised with the university administration, supported students through various processes such as petitioning the school and led a team in event and program planning. Furthermore, I served as the Vice-Chair of a Diversity and Inclusion committee representing over 50,000 public servants in the Government of Ontario. That experience has made me knowledgeable about diversity and equity issues – an asset I will bring to the role of President. Last but not least, I previously worked as a Manager leading a team of 13 staff members. Through that experience, I learned a lot about motivating team members and successfully guiding them to end goals. I will use my proven leadership skills to help SPJ deliver on our promises and commitments to students.
why vote for me: My fellow peers should elect me as President of SPJ because I have the experience, skills, and knowledge to excel in this role from day 1. I believe in inclusive leadership and will ensure that I operate from a place of values. Additionally, I want every student at the Columbia Journalism Experience to have the best experience. And from my genuine desire for everyone to have an incredible time at the J-School, I will work hard to help make it a reality.


Ava Anderson, M.S. Full-time
past education: Williams College
I was in a number of student organizations throughout high school and college and I’ve worked in news/docs for the past few years. I’m currently in the M.S. documentary program.
why vote for me:  I’m excited to put together screenings of various docs, and hope to get a lot of input from students in all CJS programs on what they’re interested in seeing. I plan on also bringing in a few collectively chosen filmmakers to speak with us.

Debadrita Sur M.S. Full-time
past education: BA English (Presidency University, Kolkata, India)

I have worked as a film columnist remotely for a UK-based film magazine called Far Out Magazine, UK, and their sister site Best of Netflix for nearly 2 years before coming to the J-school. I am a self-proclaimed film nerd and I love watching films and documentaries. My favorite documentary would be Wang Bin’s ”Til Madness Do Us Part’. As for the coordinator position, I have been the elected Class Representative in my university for 2 consecutive years and am quite good at handling duties and responsibilities.
why vote for me:  While I enjoy all kinds of films and documentaries, I would definitely take their thoughts and choices into consideration. Responsible is my middle name and I am great at multi-tasking.

(ran unopposed)

• Vaidik Trivedi, M.A.
past education: MA in Journalism (Business & Econ). 2. BA in Journalism with a concentration in public affairs
I have served as an elected News Editor for a college newspaper and as a student representative for the J-School at Stony Brook University. I have also served as the communications director for a local democrat politician (Gordon Andrew Fletcher) in Washington DC and worked as a public liaison officer for the Ex-Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, India. I am well versed in how public offices and positions can be leveraged to initiate conversations on essential matters and bring effective change which resonates with people.
why vote for me:  My classmates should be assured that if I get elected, they will always have an ear to hear their issues and efficiently solve them. The J-School allows us to invite renowned journalists to talk with the student body, and I want to leverage that to a greater extent so that we can learn from the best to be one of the best in our careers. As the academic year picks up pace, it would be essential for students to give their minds rest from work, and I aim to organize events that provide them with a hiatus from academics. I aim to make my colleagues’ academic life more engaging & valuable, along with making their campus life as fun as possible.

(ran unopposed)

Kevin Lind, M.S. Full-time
past education: University of St Andrews – M.A. General Studies – English/Philosophy
I have worked side by side with all kinds of people. Managing restaurants, it was my job to make sure everyone felt heard and included – dishwashers, billionaire investors, high profile guests. I learned how to speak with anyone. With world leaders or newly arrived immigrants on their first day, my role was to make that person considered and welcome. This skill was honed for 7 years as I managed what was the ‘world’s best restaurant’, Eleven Madison Park. I learned how to execute complex events, with high stakes, involving senior leaders. From concept to completion, this has been a daily responsibility at times. Managing increasingly larger teams, I am now a practiced listener and executor – a negotiator of revolving needs. I am calm in the triage of management – I know how to balance priorities and fairness so that all are listened to and accommodated. At ease with fame, dedicated to excellent journalism, and eager for our growth, I look forward to arranging the speakers you want.
why vote for me:  I am so grateful to be a student here. It has given me a second chance. I have returned to pursuing my lifelong goal. I am a firm believer that the most rewarding and impactful way to live is to be of service to others. After 13 years in hospitality, I knew that I was in the wrong kind of service. I have dreamed of attending J-school since undergrad. Being a journalist is to be of service in such a profound way. It has not been a small transition. I am 35 years old. Having long held dreams does not immediately qualify me to be here. Columbia had to take a risk for me to realize this one. I am eager to give back – to you and your dreams, to the school for affording us an opportunity, and to our future. You should elect me knowing you have a dedicated advocate and capable communicator ready to be of service to our growth.

(ran unopposed)

Andrea Quezada, M.S. Full-time
past education: -B.A. Communications (University of Charleston). -B.A. Literature (University of Charleston). -Minor in Psychology (University of Charleston)
For my three years of undergrad, I served in my school’s student government as one of the representatives for my class. I was also in the student’s activities board for all three years. We were in charge of all events going on around campus, from big ones like the first day back festival and homecoming, to small events like ice-cream socials and giving away swag. For the last year, I also served as the social-change chair, hosting events like couch conversations with therapists and panels with different advocates. I was also a part of a sorority all three years, and for the last two I was in charge of recruitment and initiation events, as well as senior send off events.
why vote for me:  I believe I have experience in putting on events of different sizes and kinds, and it is something I really enjoy doing. I like the planning part and the working part, making sure whatever we set out to do is accomplished. However, my favorite part is when the event is already happening and I can see my peers enjoying something I put so much time and effort into. If I am elected to this position, I will make sure that there are events that will help everyone enjoy their time at the J-School and destress from classes.

(ran unopposed)

•Natalie Novakova M.S. Full-time
past education: English College in Prague (IGCSE, IB), Dual Bachelor Degree SciencesPo Paris (Euro-Asian Program, Le Havre) x The University of Hong Kong (PPA, JMSC)
In terms of my previous experience with PR, I have started a charity in Prague called SMILE (https://projektusmev.wixsite.com/smileproject2017), which helps to raise financial funds for individual educational projects of children from children’s homes. Apart from being the founder of this project, I was also in charge of promotional material (posters, merchandise, auction catalog design, etc.) and running social media (FB, Instagram, Twitter). On top of that I promoted the events through sending email invitations and making mailing lists. Additionally, I had some PR experience while interning at the Financial Times APAC office in Hong Kong, where I worked as a Communications and Marketing Assistant. I was in charge mostly of internal communication, but also drafting material for promotional purposes and speaker bios.
why vote for me:  Over the years through my previous positions, I have managed to gain valuable PR skills that I am excited to translate into the position of Public Director of SPJ. Becoming the founder of the SMILE charity at the age of 17 helped me to advance my PR skills and taught me how to create engaging and visually appealing content to promote various events. Furthermore, working on the project helped me to enhance my communication and social media skills that I believe will be a valuable asset to the SPJ board in growing their membership. Working at FT helped me to learn the importance of building diverse relationships. Through this role I learned how to manage my time and be flexible with various tasks that might arise. Additionally, both of these positions help me to solidify my understanding of the importance of team work and communicating effectively with various stakeholders within the organisation. I am certain that these experiences make me a perfect candidate for the PR position.