Student Fights for Social Change in 5 A.S. Clubs

This week’s campus celebrity is familiar with the interview process and has stacks of Western Front news articles showcasing her hard work and commitment to this school. Western Washington University senior Jazmine Smith dedicates her time to five Associated Student clubs. “I’m proud of doing a lot in an impressive amount of time and being so involved that I can frequently see my name in the Western Front,” Smith said.

                                                                               (Smith enjoying Summer quarter on the Western campus in 2014)

All of the clubs are important to Smith as spaces for community development, identity spaces, and awareness for social justice. Smith is a member of the Black Student Union, Students for Social Change, Student Labor Action Project, Voices for Planned Parenthood and Queer People of Color. Each club plays an important role in Smith’s life as an opportunity to speak up and also a safe place to socialize with peers. “Being able to see people that look like me on a daily basis is really nice in a predominantly white school like Western,” Smith said.

Even if students go their whole college career without ever hearing about any of these clubs, Smith said her and her fellow club members are still determined and hopeful in knowing that they’re trying to create  change and make a difference.  “Social justice should be on everyone’s radar,” she added.

Smith is a go-getter, with no hesitation in going after her goals and speaking up for what she believes in. Smith came to Western knowing right away she wanted to pursue the Human Services major. By packing her quarters with over a full-load of credits since freshman year, Smith said she will be obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in only three years.

As a freshman Smith was excited to come to Western and get involved, but wasn’t sure how to make the time commitment. She started out helping with voter registration for the AS and then hall council, but it wasn’t until these last two years at Western that she really started to dive into more club involvement.

“I’ve learned how to keep involved, keep balanced, and how to keep an intersection  [of the clubs] in a healthy way,” Smith said.

To anyone trying to learn how to juggle extracurriculars, like school clubs, into their already busy schedule, Smith advises not being afraid to say no. “Make sure you take up a place in all of the organizations you’re participating in that match what you can do,” she said. To get the most out the college experience, Smith claims getting involved is not a waste of time, and gives students a lot of opportunities they would have never predicted.

                                                                  (Smith touring Sydney, Australia on her study-abroad session in 2013)

Several of Smith’s most memorable times at Western have been opportunities she would have never predicted. She looks back at her study abroad trip to Australia last year, and is still impressed with how quickly and boldly she made the trip happen. She met someone in a  class who had just gotten back from a study-abroad session in Australia, and right then and there Smith  decided that day she was going to Australia. On that same day, which happened to be the last to register for study abroad, and within the last half hour of closing, Smith ran into the International Programs office and asked them to help her make this happen. She filled out the papers and afterwards she called her parents saying ,’Hey by the way, is it alright if I got to Australia? I’ve already put down a deposit.’ Smith said she still can’t believe she took that leap, but is so glad she did.

Smith hopes to do work for the Peace Corps after graduation, and is currently being considered for their community development position in Timor-Leste, in southeast Asia. She believes working with the Peace Corps will allow her to directly apply what she’s she learned through Western with planning and evaluation. “The Peace Corps has this component that’s really about cultural competency. It’s not just about going into a country, bringing in our own resources and not contributing to their economy. It’s not just a band-aid fix that’s not culturally competent. [With the Peace Corps] I’ll be able to go learn a language and do what they want me to do, in a way that’s helpful for their country,” Smith said.

*All photo credit to Jazmine Smith

**Click on the hyperlinks above to find out more about Western’s Associated Student clubs mentioned in the article