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Meet Annie Cowden, GSS President

Annie Cowden is beginning the academic year as the new president of TCU’s Graduate Student Senate. Originally from Pasadena, California, she is working toward her Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership. She is also employed full-time at TCU as the director of the BNSF Neeley Leadership Program.

Annie spoke with TCU News about her goals for the Senate in the busy year ahead. 

What brought you to TCU?
I came to TCU first in a professional role and have now been at TCU for a combined seven years. Before joining the Neeley School of Business, I worked in a corporate role recruiting and facilitating leadership development. I chose TCU for my graduate studies after seeing the high quality of the Ph.D. program and knowing it was time to take the next step in my personal development. 

How did you get involved with the Graduate Student Senate and why?
I got involved two years ago, serving as a senator for the College of Education, then I stepped in last year as vice president of student engagement, and it helped me understand the different needs of students. The former GSS president, Leslie Ekpe, and others encouraged me to run for president. It was a compliment and honor to be elected. 

What GSS accomplishments are you most proud of? ​
We’ve been collectively building awareness around the needs of grad students. We’re a small but growing population, and our needs are unique. I want to continue raising awareness for grad students by having conversations and more engagement with the administration. For example, I had the chance to serve as part of the search committee for the new university president. Having graduate students involved in decision making is vital to the health of our community. 

What are your primary goals as president?
First, I want to continue to make headway with understanding who grad students are and what they need so we can have a clear plan to provide them resources. This might include sharing with students what the path to a faculty career looks like, how to seek funding for conferences or advocating for graduate student needs. Second, I want to support our GSS vice presidents and senators, helping them to set agendas and execute on those goals. We’re an untapped resource, and I hope that with more exposure and communication, we can make a difference for the university.  

What do you think the biggest challenge will be and how do you plan to overcome it?
The biggest challenge is how siloed grad students are, mainly because of the nature of our studies. We’re missing out on opportunities to research together and network. If we can’t do that physically, we have technology via Zoom to build our necessary collective mass – about 2,000 students – many of whom also work at TCU. 

What are your goals after graduation? ​
I love my current role and always want to be in one that’s student-facing. Someday, I could see myself in a role as a vice chancellor or president of a university, but I am comfortable taking the necessary time to get there. When the next thing shows up, I’ll know it, and I’ll hope to be in a place where it’s right. 

What do you love most about being a Horned Frog? ​
I know it’s trite, but it’s really the people and the community we have here. TCU is a very unique place where there is true collaboration. It’s a place where people want to see you succeed. 

More about Annie:  

A favorite food: Cheese
Favorite spot on campus: Wherever the tulips are!
Favorite hangout off campus: Maggie’s R&R on Rosedale
Favorite movie: High Society
On your playlist: Fleetwood Mac, Taylor Swift, Grateful Dead, AC/DC – a real mix!
Last show you binge-watched: You; Inventing Anna; anything that’s true crime
Hobbies: Gardening, DIY house projects, and sewing
A professor who has had a meaningful impact on you: Dr. Ashley Tull, my dissertation chair, who is a great teacher that really cares about his students
Best TCU memory to date: The first time I worked with students at orientation. They gave me the confidence to do my job and solidified that TCU is the place for me.