Ieva Vengrovskaja: the presidency is like a roller coaster, you never know what will happen next
With the electoral report of Vytautas Magnus university Students Representative Council on March 10th getting closer, a question of who will take over the helm of the organization this year arises. In order to encourage and inspire students to run for the position of president, current president of VMU SRC Ieva Vengrovskaja happily shares her know-hows, advice and experiences in managing the organization and directly representing students.
How do you feel at the end of your second cadency and looking back at past year’s work?
I feel sad, but also happy. When I look back at past two years, it feels sad reaching the end of my term as the president, but I’m also glad about how much we have done. A lot has happened in the world in those two years – a pandemic, a war – which has created a lot of challenges that had to be addressed here and now, a lot of things that had to be dealt with impromptu.
What was your biggest fear before becoming president of VMU SRC?
Before I started my first term, I was afraid that I wasn’t the right person to do everything, that I wouldn’t understand how to properly convey and represent the views of the majority of students and constitute them properly. I was afraid that I did not have enough knowledge and I was not cut out for this position. I set big goals before my first term, and when I went into my second term I thought “what I couldn’t do in one year, I will do in the second“. I was afraid that I would run out of time and, unfortunately, I did. Not as much has been done as I wanted.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as president?
We became used to be working online, which I think saved me in my first term, but in my second term I realized that I am attached to this position and to these activities and to Kaunas itself. Meetings, conferences, it’s hard to plan your time for the future because you don’t know what’s coming tomorrow. Another challenge is to stand for the opinion that is the majority opinion even if I didn’t completely agree with it. It was difficult to delegate tasks, to involve the active students around me, not to leave everything to myself, because it’s not efficient, but over time it became a routine.
Which direction of VMU SRC activities and the work done during your presidency are you most pleased with?
I really wanted us to have our own system of representatives, to organize training, to educate them more. I have seen how many students there are in the university who are not part of the Student Representative council, but they care about the university and the welfare of the students, because they can be elders, they can come to the curriculum committee, they can be on the faculty council. I think that is where we have laid a great foundation. Now, VMU students are more involved in certain bodies, they participate, they speak, they get involved, but there is still a lot of consistent work to be done in this area.
What goals were not reached this year?
A bunch. There are many such areas and activities. What I remember now is that the incentive scholarships could not be raised, of course they went up, but not because of VMU SRC, but because of the increase in basic social benefit (BSI) size. The other thing that has not been achieved is that PhD students have their own specialized English language, which is only for postgraduate students, and that they would have a thesis adviser or a research adviser, someone to help them as a guide. All this has been discussed with the Vice-Rector of Education, the Education Department and the Institute of Foreign Languages.
What is your favourite presidential function, event or anything that comes to mind?
As I mentioned earlier that it is difficult when you cannot plan your time ahead, but it seems to me that this is the best specificity of the job of president. You have an insane amount of things you can do, there seems to be no limit. It is an interesting year when every time you get a call at 8 in the morning, you don’t know whether it is a courier delivering a parcel, or a student with a problem, or the Ministry of education, science and sports for a conference, or the university administration for an upcoming meeting, or an important issue. It’s like a roller coaster, you never know what’s going to happen next.
What are the pathways that university positions within and/or outside the university open up?
It seems to me that when you choose something, you give something up, and that’s true for everything in life. So in this place, too, when you run for student president possition, you are taking responsibility and you are also giving up something. You don’t go unnoticed as a student, you have to weigh and evaluate what you say and how you say it more than you have done before when you speak, when you express an opinion. But what this position opens up the most is the people – new competences when you work with them, more friendships are made that last well into the future.
The election of the new President of VMU SRC is approaching. What would you wish for the person who would like to fill this position?
First of all, I would like to wish for at least two candidates and for democracy to take place. I wish to have more contact with student representatives, to go to meetings and to have contact with students outside the Student Representative Council. At the same time, I would like to wish that person to stand by their decision all the way to the end – if you and your team make a decision on an issue that is important for students, stand by that opinion all the way to the end. You cannot decide halfway through a discussion or a meeting that “no, that’s it, it doesn’t matter, it’s too hard, we don’t agree, we give up”. If it is important, you have to stand up to it, if it is not, you have to be flexible, which is a very necessary quality for this position.
The presidency is a great opportunity to try out for the leadership position, learn how to lead a team, persevere, be flexible and organise your work with time management. If you want to run for the presidency, you must submit your application form, a motivational letter and guidelines of your activities by 17th of February at 5:00 pm to the VMU SRC Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.