Name: Anabel Castañeda
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Course: Media & International Conflict, MA
It is highly unusual for a someone to run for one of the full-time positions in UCDSU after just one year in the college, but Anabel Castañeda has decided to do just that. The Media & International Conflict student from Las Vegas is the only person to throw her hat into the ring for the position of Graduate Education Officer.One can be forgiven for being surprised at Castañeda running for the position, especially since it seems to caught her by surprise too. “I didn’t know that the position existed,” admits Castañeda, “and that’s really sad because I’m a postgrad [student] myself and I tried to be really involved.”
Castañeda arrived in Dublin via the University of Edinburgh, where she earned an MA in International Relations. She believes that her experience as a graduate student is what makes her the perfect candidate for the role. In addition to this, she has experience of working in student governments before, having served as the International Student Commissioner during her time as an undergraduate student.
Her manifesto is clearly informed by her experiences of university life outside of UCD, allowing her to pick and choose from the good policies she has seen abroad that are not yet in place here.
She speaks of promoting greater transparency in the Union, saying that there needs to be greater communication between class reps and the students they represent.
Although a newcomer to UCD, she is aware of the difficulties faced in getting graduate students involved in the Union. “I really want to focus on making more programs available for postgraduates and just showing them that there are sources that the SU can provide.” She says.
“Whether it’s more connections with the careers office, or just in general help… Whatever the Graduate Education Officer could do, I would really make that available to them.”
One way in which Castañeda hopes to bring postgraduate students closer to the Union is by spending more time on the Blackrock campus. This year, the current Graduate Officer, Dylan Gray, spent one day a week in Blackrock. Castañeda proposes to change this to two days a week.
“There’s just so many postgrads in Blackrock. Even though they’re just Business, there are different programs within the Business School and they’re more concentrated, they’re in one location. Postgrads in Belfield are more spread out.
“Blackrock students aren’t going to want to come all the way to Belfield if they have any issues, so giving them two days would actually be more beneficial to them so that they can have the option.”
Castañeda is also looking to help graduate students out in other ways. Although it may lead to nothing, she does intend on reducing the cost of interlibrary loans for postgraduates who need many books from many different libraries in order to conduct their research.
She also proposes to host workshops specifically aimed at giving graduate students transferrable skills, like public speaking, as well as helping students to more easily network with the kind of people they need to be in touch with once they leave university.
These networking sessions would be done across a series of faculties, and would allow students to collaborate with both students and staff of their own faculty or from a different school in the university.
Although she is relatively inexperienced in UCD, it is clear that Castañeda has high hopes for the role of Graduate Education Officer. Whether or not the students have the same optimism will be seen in Friday’s count.