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By Amber Weir, Grok Magazine.

Jesse Naylor Zambrano will be the Business and Law Faculty Rep for 2020, her pronouns are She/Her and she is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics and International Relations. Jesse is a creative person, with a passion for drawing and painting. Reflecting on her hobbies, Jesse talks of an open-air swimming pool near her house. While she notes that she probably looks like a weirdo, she loves to hang out at the pool and admire the way the sunlight makes rainbows on the bottom of the pool.

In her first year, Jesse started the Curtin Film Club (which is unfortunately no more), but now she’s on the committee of the Curtin Illustration Club, a club that has helped the artistic community at Curtin flourish.

What is your favourite campus food?

I get pies from Simply Delicious at least three times a week. They’re homemade, hearty, and only $5. But shhh, there aren’t every many to go around.

What is your biggest whine/peeve about campus?

Public transport to campus is absolutely cooked. Curtin isn’t that far away from anywhere in the big scheme of things, but it takes an absolute age to get to uni from anywhere because it’s not well connected by public transport.

What would you like to do after you graduate university?

It’s funny to think about how much my idea of what I want to do with my life has changed since I started university. I think very few people come to uni 100% sure, although I definitely thought I was at the time. When I started university two years ago, I wanted to be a cinematographer in the film industry. While I still love film-making as a craft, my huge anxiety around the climate crisis made me want to turn my efforts towards something that could help on that front.

Now, I’m studying Economics and International Relations, and I’m hoping to go into the renewable energy industry. I am, however, open to other clean industries and forms of climate activism.

Being involved in the Guild has completely changed my perspective on what I want to do after university. It has made me realise that we as individual citizens do have the power to change things we see as wrong. As a student, if you see something wrong and want to fix it, the Guild is there to facilitate that, to help you, and empower you. It has made me realise the impact that one person can have, and the importance of collectives [in protecting] people’s rights. I would love to continue working for the causes I value, such as climate activism and queer rights, after I finish university.

How can the Guild help make university life better?

The Guild is your student union, and that means more than discounts on your coffee. It means when the University does something shitty while looking for profit at the expense of your quality of education, you don’t just have to sit there and take it. It means that if you pay $1500 for a unit that’s made up of 3-year old lectures and a lackluster tute, you don’t have to settle. We’re here to stand up for your rights as students to have a quality education, to graduate feeling ready for your field of choice, to be treated as a student not a pay-check. We’re here to make sure your campus is safe and accessible, and a fun and vibrant place to be with a thriving student culture. The Guild is your ticket to an absolutely fantastic university experience, so get involved, and learn about all the clubs, activities, services and assistance we have to offer you.

How and why did you get involved in the Guild?

I got involved in the Guild on my very first day at uni. I heard about it through a person I met during O-Week, and followed him to figure out how to sign up for the First Year committee. I think I’ve always been a sucker for student representation, ever since primary school, when I wanted nothing more than to be a prefect and get a shiny badge.

I also started the Film Club during the first month of university, so I was engaging with the Guild in a whole different way through the clubs space. When elections came around, I had a good understanding of what I loved about the Guild, and what I thought could be better, especially in the way clubs were run. I ran in the elections on a platform of making clubs more accessible, and making the events management process easier for club committees. It was really a matter of seeing something missing and knowing that I could help fix it.

I got onto the Representation Board, which discusses matters of accessibility, equity, and representing students to the university on all types of matters. I absolutely love Reps Board. To me, it is the heart of what the Guild is for, and deals with all the most important issues affecting students. I became the Chair of Reps Board and got to sit on the Executive Committee, where I gained a really thorough understanding of how the Guild works. Now, student representation is a huge part of my life—both through the close friends I’ve made, and the time and passion I dedicate to it.

How do you think you can make a difference this year, and what are you hoping to achieve?

I’ve never had a super structured role in the Guild before. This year, for the first time, I have a specific job—it’s my role to look out for Business and Law students at Curtin. This year, my main goal is to increase student consultation, and to ensure that whatever I’m working on is something students want and need. I want to foster a community in our faculty, because university is so much richer for the friendships and relationships we’re able to make here. The main goal I’ve brought, the platform that I ran on during elections, is to increase the internship and work experience opportunities Curtin students have with clean and sustainable industries.

There are some ideas I’ve brought to the Guild that I want to pursue in 2020. The first was to have a Guild Welcome at O-Week, similar to other faculty welcomes. The Guild is an integral part of the student experience, but unfortunately, not enough students understand who we are. If they don’t know we can help them, then we can’t do our jobs. I want to pull off a fantastic Guild Welcome to increase awareness about what the Guild can do for students.

I also want to establish an Environmental Network at Curtin. At last year’s elections, so many students asked us what we were doing in this space. Over 80% of students feel that the climate crisis is a huge threat that needs immediate action. However, a majority of students feel the government is not doing enough. This leaves students feeling small, alone and hopeless. I want to create a community so that students know they’re not alone, and feel that together they can take action on the things they care about, instead of being discouraged.

What is your advice for making the most out of the uni experience—especially for first years?

The first piece of advice I give to first years is: get involved in clubs. University can be quite isolating—we have so many classmates, but they change every six months. Once the semester gets busy, it’s harder to find time to hang out. You can easily end up stressed, and lonely on campus. Clubs on campus are creating communities around common interests that flourish year-round. You can learn cool new skills, make lifelong friendships and have amazing experiences. At the end of the day, the real university experience is happening in communities and spaces created by clubs.

All of the closest friends I’ve made at university, I’ve made through clubs and the Guild. Whether you’re interested in robotics, tea-making, dance, illustration, writing or investment, we have over 200 clubs on campus that cater to every interest you could possibly have. On the off-chance you can’t find a club that caters to your interests, do what I did and start a new one!

The second piece of advice I have is: you have power over your own education. Have agency, be proactive, and don’t just accept things the way they are. Don’t like something? You have the power to change it. When you come to university you should learn to be a proactive citizen, an active voice, to think critically about why things happen and question everything. Don’t let university be something that just happens to you—make it something you engage in and take ownership of, and I promise it’ll be a more engaging and memorable experience.

This article is part of a Curtin Student Guild interview series conducted by Grok Magazine.

Email Jesse on business@guild.curtin.edu.au