After six months of planning, EIT Auckland introduced an international Student Representative initiative in August 2019. Following the successful launch in Auckland, the International Centre are planning to implement a similar programme in Hawke’s Bay later this year.
Student Representatives play a vital role in communicating the concerns and views of the student body to EIT staff and the Younited Students’ Association. This enables them to identify opportunities to create positive change benefitting all students which may be in relation to the student experience, services, teaching, learning and facilities. As well as being a voice for the students, they attend training, monthly meetings with staff, Younited activities and provide feedback to students regarding matters of interest.
Originally from Mumbai in India, Auckland student, Sarang Yande stepped forward to take on the role this year. Selected along with four others to support incoming students, Sarang has impressed students and staff alike with his commitment and enthusiasm, including Auckland Campus Director, Cherie Freeman.
“Sarang brings a wide range of skills and knowledge from his personal and professional experiences to the role of EIT Auckland Student Representative. He understands that communication is key to ensuring ongoing success for EIT students and works tirelessly to ensure students are kept informed and that their voice is heard,” says Cherie.
No stranger to helping others, by nature he is approachable as well as being a good networker. With over 19 years experience in customer service and human resources, Sarang has worked with multi-national companies in the airline, hospitality and educational sectors, both as an employee and more recently, as CEO of his own training and development company before coming to study at EIT.
Student Representatives need to juggle their own study, home-life and work whilst supporting the diverse needs of a range of students of different ages and experience. In Auckland this means helping students on level 8 or 9 programmes to stay on track with their academic studies whilst settling into a new life far away from family and friends. Without an extensive network in Auckland, many students find themselves facing challenges such as transportation, making new friends and adjusting to new ways of learning. This is where students like Sarang can offer valuable advice and support based on their own personal experience.
Student Representatives are supported by the EIT Auckland staff team who they meet up with once a month to talk about initiatives and objectives. The group looks at innovative ways to increase student engagement, recently introducing a new activity called ‘Speech Masters’. Encouraging students to give speeches in front of their peers, this new initiative has captured the imagination of everyone involved. Sarang has been pleasantly surprised by the number of students who are willing to overcome their fears by putting themselves out there and giving it a go.
Sarang tries to put himself in others shoes and stays open to learning about new cultures. He also strives to be proactive and look for opportunities to come up with new ideas. During a recent class, Sarang realised that a number of students were struggling to get to grips with referencing and citations. He decided to set-up a Study Hacks Zoom session, which was attended by 22 students.
Never one to sit still, Sarang has already started thinking about succession planning for when he completes his Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Management in July. Having already identified a few students that he is keen to mentor, Sarang has some helpful advice to any student thinking about becoming a Student Representative.
“Be open to different people, mind-sets and approaches; be quick to adapt to change and be totally approachable. With these three qualities, you will be successful as a Student Representative”, says Sarang.
It’s certainly been a journey so far and one that Sarang never takes for granted. Sarang feels he is here for a purpose and is enjoying his time at EIT. He is able to give one hundred percent to his assignments and extra responsibilities because of the professionalism he tries to bring to every situation. Having worked with some great leaders and big brands, he realises the value of time. More than anything, being a Student Representative has helped shape his own priorities and long-term goal to build a career in teaching and training in the New Zealand education sector.