After snoozing four different alarms over the course of an hour, Genesis Jara frantically gets dressed and rushes to do her hair — it’s time to get to work. Jara was elected as Associated Students Inc. president in March 2018. Having just received a standing ovation at the annual convocation in August, Jara said she is humbled, honored and excited to be the ASI President & CEO for the 2018-19 school year. Her goal is to advocate for underrepresented communities and display ambition and empathy through each decision she makes. The Daily 49er sat down with Jara to discuss her plans for the campus.
Why are you so passionate about representing underrepresented communities?
I started participating in student government at such a young age. I was involved during elementary school, middle school, high school and now at Long Beach State. I credit my passion to my parents and the way they raised me. They have always told me that I can be anything I want to be and they made me feel like an equal when it came to me and my brother; whatever my brother can do, I can do too. I have a very competitive nature, but at the same time, they instilled humility, compassion and respect in me. I love that I have ability to make change in other people’s lives and make sure that people like me are represented where we are not normally represented.
Can you describe the moment you knew this was your calling?
Summer 2017, I did a program at USC [University of Southern California] through their policy school. This selective weekend was all about social justice through the public service sector. This experience made it very clear that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life. This was the moment I realized I wanted to be involved in politics and be an elected official.
What specific changes do you want to make on our campus?
One of our goals is to create an overnight housing center on-campus for students facing homelessness. This is a big project that we’re not sure we’ll see through our term because it is a long-term project. Right now, our Basic Needs Program has the Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness Program, but there are so many qualifications you have to meet in order to get help. One of the qualifications is that you have to have exhausted all of your financial resources, including loans. So we are putting a student in debt in order to help them and, to me, that does not make sense. We want to create something that is more easily accessible, with no application process and proof of income requirement. Another goal of ours is to tailor our class schedules more toward non-traditional students. Parking is a huge issue because everyone is here at the same time. We are a commuter campus and have students who work full-time and would appreciate more night classes or weekend classes. I want to have a wide variety of classes to offer. It would allow those students to take the classes they want and it would also alleviate the parking issue.
How do you balance such a busy schedule? Any advice for fellow students?
It took me a lot of practice to get to this point. I have always had a busy schedule, I have been interning, working and [have been] involved since my freshman year here. Those experiences taught me how to prioritize my life. I use a planner to plan out my days hour by hour. Everything is in there, from my ASI meetings to chapter readings for my classes to hanging out with my boyfriend. Everything has to be in there for my own sanity. I truly believe that you become stressed because you try to keep everything in your head;; a planner eliminates that.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I want to get my master’s right after my undergraduate degree. I would really like to do it at USC, but for affordability reasons, I do not know if that would be the best option. After getting my master’s, my goal is to invest in properties; I do not want a traditional 9-5 job. Throughout my college career, I have been saving up my money to get the ball rolling with that as soon as I graduate, so I can have a steady income for what I really want to do, which is local city government. I want to run to be on city council for either Downey or Long Beach. After I have completed my terms there, my ultimate goal is to be a state assembly member or a state senator.