A day in the life of a student leader
All images used with permission.
There is more to student associations than committees, dances, and fundraisers. Being elected provides you with a unique opportunity to grow as a person. Not only do you get to advocate for your student body and pursue causes you’re passionate about, but you also get the chance to learn from others and develop skills that will help you at university and on the job.
We sat down with ACU National Student Association (ACUNSA) President and Bachelor of Nursing student Deanna Uremovic to delve into the world of student leadership.
Why did you run for student government?
“I saw the beauty and positive influence of bringing joy to students on campus. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to be the voice of students and represent their interests. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, learning important skills like time management and leadership, which have helped with my degree. I also wanted to be a part of a team that wants to better not only their own future but the future of others. We aren’t just about running events, it’s about the connections we form, the responsibility we are entrusted with and creating a space where every student is welcome no matter their background.”
What is the best part of being ACUNSA president?
“Being able to make a difference for every student – to represent them, to make changes that will benefit them and most importantly to support their needs. The ACUNSA President doesn’t work alone, I work closely with the president on every ACU campus, which is the greatest privilege. The women I have worked with this year are remarkable. They want to make changes that benefit every campus. They want to bring collaboration and unity, making every student welcome. Having such an important role within the university has also helped me grow as an individual. I’m here to study and better my future but having the responsibility to better the future of other ACU students has allowed me to become a more responsible and reliable individual.”
Deanna and her fellow student leaders.
What are you most proud of?
“This is a difficult one, as there are many moments that I’m proud of but if I must narrow it down, it would be deciding to attend ACU. Okay yes, this is very cheesy, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I chose to attend another university. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives, find a career I want to pursue, meet people around Australia, meet the Pope, and form lifelong friendships.”
Why would you encourage other students to join their local student association?
“Because it allows you to grow, to make friends and to step out of your comfort zone. It helps you to become a part of a family, a place for you to go to when you need help. You also get to run some awesome events, like a harbour cruise or uni ball or even a simple movie night. It helps you to get the full university experience, which is known to also help improve your higher education outcome.”
There must have been some memorable moments. What would you say was your favourite?
“The most memorable and inspiring moment at ACU was attending my first ever MAKSA event. The MacKillop Campus Student Association at North Sydney is affectionately known as MAKSA and has been my home for four years. The event I attended was the Friday Fun Day and if you ask any of the committee from 2018, they will say it was an absolute failure of an event. However, if you ask any of the incoming first years, we all absolutely loved it. We were hooked on the possibility of running events like these, forming the friendships and being a part of something that brings people together. This was absolutely the start of something new for me. I met Michael Benson (former ACUNSA President) who made me the student leader I am today. I met my university friends without whom I would have dropped out and I met Stephen Last (former ACUNSA Treasurer) who has made me a stronger individual, and taught me that it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in.”
Michael Benson and Deanna.
We also asked Deanna to outline a typical day. Here is what it looks like.
“My alarm goes off – if I didn’t set it my day would never start. I roll out of bed and begin with a coffee (of course!) and either a bowl of fruit or some eggs.”
9 – 10am
“At this time in the morning, I check LEO (the student learning portal) and get myself ready for the day. If it wasn’t lockdown, I would catch my bus and then two trains to North Sydney. While catching the train I listen to music or catch up on my recorded lectures to ensure I know what I will be learning for the day. Studying at home is a tad more relaxing but I still use this time to listen to my lectures. It’s crucial to understand what I’m learning or figure out which questions I need to ask about the content.”
10am – 12pm
“My first class of the day. I try to schedule my classes all on the same day, so, for example, my biology class would be scheduled on a Monday at 10am, then I have a break, and then another scheduled class in the afternoon. I try to keep units on the same day or close to each, other so I don’t forget anything. In normal non-COVID-19 times most of my classes are delivered in-person because in nursing we have many skills we need to practice. I spend hours on this and hopefully answering questions right (but sometimes I don’t). Nursing is a large cohort and the people in my classes change, but this gives me a chance to meet new friends and build connections. So, when those group assignments come, I can always work with people I like.”
12 – 2pm
Did somebody say lunchtime? I could be running a weekly barbecue, chilling out in the MAKSA office listening to music and completing assignments, or working in the ACUNSA office answering emails and organising meetings. I take part in fun activities but sometimes I also need to attend a crucial meeting with the Student Life Manager, Student Success Director or even the university’s Chief Operating Officer. These meetings are always about how I and the campus presidents can improve the lives of ACU students. The fun bonus of these meeting is that sometimes lunch is supplied, which is always good.”
2 – 4pm
“Time for my second class. I switch from making decisions to learning how to save someone’s life. These classes are either a practical in the nursing lab or a classroom tutorial. Practical classes are extremely fun as we pair up and take care of a (fake) patient. I could be administering medications, taking care of wounds, providing support, or just checking vitals. Teamwork is my favourite as it’s always fun to bounce ideas off a partner and help patients get the best care.”
4 – 6pm
“For a nursing student I’m lucky that my schedule isn’t super packed. I try to complete some classes during the winter and summer breaks. This means I spend less time in class during the week and more time with friends or doing ACUNSA work. At this time of day, I am usually in the MAKSA office completing an assignment, chatting, or planning where to go for dinner. Finding a balance between studying and fun is crucial as I tend to burn out way too quickly. I also have a rule not to complete any uni work after 6pm. I know it’s crazy, but my body just doesn’t function at its best after then.”
6 – 8pm
“I’m on my way to dinner or physical culture (which is a form of gymnastics/dancing). I teach two classes a week for girls aged 5 to 8 years. I’ve been part of Sefton Physical Culture for 18 years and teaching for six years. This is a time for me to forget about uni and relax. If you want to smile more, spend time teaching kids how to dance.”
8 – 10pm
“I wish I could say that I jump straight into bed, but sadly I don’t. Around 8.30 I’m making my way home to shower and eat. I just love food so whenever it’s time to eat, I’m eating. Also, I know I said before I don’t do uni work past six, but sometimes I check LEO and my email just to ensure I haven’t missed anything important.”
10pm – 12am
“After taking a little me time hanging with my family or boyfriend, it’s time for bed. That means lying in bed watching TV. Currently I’m rewatching all my favourites: Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl or Gilmore Girls. University life for me is all about balance and not stressing myself out, which is why I think I get so involved with student associations and ACUNSA. It’s a place for me to express myself and be me.”
Interested in an experience like Deanna’s? Explore your options at ACU.