Matalena O’Mara – Student President
Master of Applied Practice (Social Practice)
Matalena first ran for Student Council because she realised if she wanted change to happen, the best way to do ‘this’ was by getting involved. During her time as the Student President, Unitec has faced a huge amount of transformation. As the 2017 elections drew closer, students approached her and asked her to run once again. They praised the way she had conducted herself and that she was not afraid to speak out strongly in the interests of students. Matalena said she realised that it is more important than ever to have a consistent and strong voice for their own piece of mind. As her campaign said “Change is good. Consistency is better”.
This year, Matalena has focussed strongly on student hardship, working with support services, signing a contract with Kiwiharvest and delivering food initiatives at the USC Student Space.
“Tertiary education shouldn’t just be about your academic wellbeing it should be looked at from a holistic approach, if you are hungry in class…..how are you supposed to focus and get good grades?”
Favsta Fernandez- General Student Rep
Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Biology)
Favsta was attracted to the Unitec Student Council because she could see it worked hard for change. She believes that because students can get inundated with the pressures of assignments and other commitments outside of university, it is vital to have advocates within the academic environment who can represent them and offer stability – especially for those who are isolated, overlooked or overwhelmed.
“As a USC member, I want to bring a generosity of spirit. I will draw on my experience in dealing with people from different backgrounds and being able to relate to their issues, whether cultural or psychosocial,” she says.
Favsta is also committed to a sustainable future for both Unitec and New Zealand. She’d like to help ensure Unitec remains student-centred and the environment is cherished.
“There is such natural beauty. We must wake up and take better care of this incredible country and its sustainability.”
Danni-Elle Lindsay – Māori Student Rep
Bachelor of Social Practice
Danni-Elle ran for Unitec Student Council because she wanted to promote empowerment – both culturally specific and general.
“I want people to have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, but I also want people to be accepting of differences.”
She is focused on doing good, doing well and doing things efficiently. To Danni-Elle, this is essential as students must feel confident that their Council can achieve its goals.
As a Māori and Pacific descendant, culture plays a huge part in Danni-Elle’s life. She believes it’s important for people to know their identity, no matter how they identify themselves.
She says, “The world is forever evolving, and it’s important we start doing the something right now; there is no time to wait.”
Rosie Stanton – General Student Rep
Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts
Rosie has been a student at Unitec over the past four years with a mix of full-time and part-time study. She stepped up for the Unitec Student Council because she wanted to help increase student morale and work on issues ordinary students couldn’t do by themselves.
“In the past two years, as Class Rep, I have fought for student rights within my own department. Now, I want to expand that to serve as General Representative for all of you,” she said in her election campaign.
Rosie points out that it costs a huge amount to study, and with so much investment, it is critical that student experience is the best it can possibly be. As a member of the Student Council, Rosie is doing what she can to make this a reality.
“I want to break down the ‘us-and-them’ attitude and be the voice that students need.”
Dara Romualdez – International Student Rep
Graduate Diploma in Business (Marketing)
Dara was attracted to stand for the Student Council because of the ambition, camaraderie and overall spirit of service in the team.
“Honing my skills and the student life experience is something I believe is also worth savouring,” says Dara. “Being in a new country with different people, I also hope to really push myself out of my comfort zone”.
Before she came to New Zealand, Dara was President of the student council at her university. This experience helped her develop essential skills such as project management, time management and decision-making. She says she is comfortable speaking to a range of people and collaborating with them.
“One thing I can also be sure to contribute to the Council is my spirit of service. It’s very important to me.”
Philip Faresa – Pacific Student Rep
Bachelor of Health and Social Development
Philip joined the Unitec Student Council to support other Pacific students with their study. He has already contributed many volunteer hours to organisations like Zeal, Unity Kids, Seed 2 Harvest and his own church’s youth group to help his peers.
Philip recognises that many Pacific students feel too intimidated to find help or ask for support, and he wants to help change this so they can really succeed at Unitec.
“I am passionate about striving for the best for Pacific Island Peoples. Above all, I want to make a difference to their lives and their futures”.
When Philip finishes his studies, he aims to become a youth worker, helping our young stars to connect in society and truly flourish.