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May Majimbi will be the Postgraduate Student Committee (PSC) President for 2021, and her pronouns are She/Her. May is currently completing a PhD in the School of Public Health with a project that is looking at blood vessel disease in the brain and retina. Her hobbies include cooking—especially baking sourdough—and more recently taking spin classes at the gym.

Her goals this year are to achieve good nutrition and fitness, and she is already reaping the benefits with better sleep, increased endorphins and improved structure to her week.

Since enrolling at Curtin for her Doctoral studies, May has been involved in numerous HDR initiatives within the Faculty of Health Sciences and has attended networking events run by the PSC.

Where is your favourite place to be on campus?

The Guild Precinct (Building 106) is possibly my favourite place on Campus. It is a safe space to share ideas, convene with fellow members of the PSC and figure out how we can stand up for students who are facing hardships that have profound effects on their experience at Curtin.

What are your plans after university?

My plans will hopefully include a post-doc position in my field of research as well as ongoing work in the union/not-for-profit space. I am passionate about the ongoing fight to create a better working and studying environment for all of us.

How can the Guild help to make university life better?

The Guild, as a student-run organisation, can make university better by engaging with students and making sure everyone feels included in the social events and advocacy efforts to which we dedicate our time.

How and why did you get involved in the Guild?

I got involved in the Guild as Research Vice President of the PSC when a friend of mine had to leave the role abruptly. Within two weeks of taking on the position, I received incredible support from the PSC President and Secretary and was able to accomplish many of the existing KPIs as well as pursue my own initiatives. I served as a spokesperson on the Retention Taskforce and PSC liaison on the Academic Services Committee.

I travelled to Canberra to represent Curtin PSC at the National Special Council Meeting (SCM) hosted by the Council of Australian Postgraduate Association (CAPA). Furthermore, I proposed and facilitated an end-of-semester networking event that connected Curtin postgrads and increased student engagement.

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

I am hoping to work on the roll-out of the Mental Health First Aid training initiative across all Faculties, ensuring that both HDR and coursework students have the tools to identify, assist and cope with a mental health issue at Curtin. Additionally, my goal is to make sure that no student is worse-off because of the 2020 staff redundancies that saw many experienced academics leave Curtin University.

What is the most important issue for students today?

Curtin students are concerned about their quality of education, which is under threat with staff cuts, the increasing shift to online learning and the loss of research expertise that Curtin has previously prided itself on.

Overall, students across Australia are rightfully concerned about the recent Job Ready Program that undermines our degrees. The pandemic has exposed many fault lines in our higher education system, such as the growing reliance on international students, and we feel that this is not sustainable or equitable in the long term.

How do you see universities adapting to students’ needs in the future?

Students are increasingly vocal about their experiences, with serious ramifications for universities and their reputations. In future, universities will have no choice but to meaningfully consult with students and tailor courses to promote active participation and value for money.

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

The best advice I can give is to step out of your comfort zone and engage in the social aspects of university life. Having a network of like-minded people will be invaluable when you are feeling isolated or overwhelmed.

If you could make any changes in the university, what would it be and why?

Address the needs of students by protecting their interests and promoting their capacity to be in good standing with the University. For example, parking fees should not be increased, and lectures and seminars should have the flexibility to offer more face-to-face and online learning options.

If you were the Prime Minister of Australia for a day, what would you do?

If appointed Prime Minister for the day, I would secure the necessary funding to education and research, both of which form the backbone of innovation. This investment into our future will ensure that today’s curious minds can live up to their potential and be the change we need in the world. Tackling climate change, income inequality, structural racism and immigration reform will not happen overnight, but we can all educate ourselves about the challenges we face.

 

This article is part of a Curtin Student Guild interview series that was first published on their website.

Email May on psc.president@guild.curtin.edu.au

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