Meet Your New AUTSA President
Debate has a tradition of offering a space for the AUTSA President to introduce themselves to the student community. Alana caught up with Sara Youssef to chat about what she hopes AUTSA will achieve over the upcoming year.
Meet Sara Youssef, AUT’s new Student Body President.
20 years old and majoring in Business Management with a minor in Business Law, Sara has a passion for getting things done and connecting with others. Having moved from Egypt seven years ago, Sara arrived with limited English. This forced major adjustments as she experienced a major culture shock. It would lead to depression from a young age, but Sara sees those experiences as important.
Having initially applied for Vice President, Sara was encouraged to apply for the role of President by her friends who saw potential for Sara to bring meaningful change.
“The word president is so heavy, which is why I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to apply. I love people, and I thrive on that. This opportunity was a way to make connections with people. I am a student at the end of the day, and I see the problems and I don't trust anyone else to fix them.”
What’s important to Sara is seeing something through until the very end, rather than spouting ideas with no follow through. And when it comes to changes at AUT, Sara sees plenty that could be done. “Students need to understand that they pay for AUTSA services, and should use them. I want to make these services more visible, and I want students to know exactly what AUTSA does for them.”
Sara also leads the Student Representative Council (SRC).
“It’s important we work as a team, and we hold each other accountable.” Students should be able to find the appropriate outlets to express concern or propose changes, and that comes in the form of the Student Body President, and the SRC.
The job of representing 30,000 students is not an easy one, but that makes it all the more important. “I want to hear students' feedback on everything, so we can fix things. I’m going to go around campus and directly talk to students to hear what they have to say so it can be heard on the AUT Council Governance Board. I will never disregard someone’s lived experience or their feedback.” Sara also acknowledges that change within a large institution is difficult and sometimes slow moving, and knowing the steps from student feedback to tangible change is important to get right.
What does Sara love about AUT? “I love the culture and the people at AUT. When I was on the South Campus, I really experienced the whānau and felt like I was a part of something. All of these different cultures coming together. That’s why I fell in love with AUT.”
As a welcoming place for any student to come in either for a casual conversation or to voice anything that’s on their mind, Sara’s door is always open - located in the student lounge at City Campus.