At the forefront of student experience – Heroes of ANU

15 September 2020

Getting through COVID-19 has required new ways of thinking and creative ideas. To weather the COVID-19 storm, Student Central called upon an adaptable and imaginative workforce: our very own students!

Student Central's 15 casual Assistant Student Information Officers (or ASIOs for short) are current or former high-achieving ANU students who have demonstrated professionalism, dedication and the ability to balance the demands of work and study. As borders closed and policies changed, ASIOs were on the frontline; Zoom-ing students to listen to their enquiries and helping them navigate student admin amidst all the uncertainty.

In a pre-COVID-19 world, ASIOs worked with students to navigate the 'how and who' of ANU systems and help them get in touch with relevant academic and support services. As a COVID-19 reality set in, ASIOs were at the forefront of adapting processes to ensure that no student was left behind.

Sonny Scott, a student in the ASIO team, has spent a lot of time during COVID-19 working with students and addressing their enquiries. Sonny has been impressed with the resilience demonstrated by ANU students:

"What has really stood out to me is how patient and considerate ANU students have been throughout the pandemic. There have been some very dramatic changes to the way that Student Central - as well as the rest of the University - would usually operate. Students have been mindful of our increased and changing workload and it has been a pleasure to work with them. I also commend students' abilities to quickly adapt to online learning."

 

Top, from left to right: Eleanor, Caity, Evynn. Bottom, from left to right: Nahom, Sonny, Khashif

One of the key contributions of the ASIO team has been moving Student Central online. ASIOs were instrumental in setting up the Zoom Virtual Drop-In Service, allowing students to continue accessing services face-to-face. They have also played a key role in launching Student Central’s chatbot – OurBot – which as answered over 5000 enquiries since mid-July.

You may have also seen the ASIOs online or on campus. ASIOs hosted the Semester 2 Orientation webinars, have featured in Student Central’s Wattle page, Facebook and Instagram , and are manning the Student Central Pop-up in the Marie Reay Teaching Centre.

All this whilst learning to work (and study!) from home.

Lizzie Gordon, Acting Deputy Manager of Student Central, speaks highly of the ASIO’s ingenuity in the face of crisis.

“Each and every one of our ASIOs embrace our University’s commitment to better outcomes for our community and our student-focussed approach. They aren’t afraid to bring original ideas to the table and to put in the effort to make them work.”

“I’m proud to work with a group of young people who show real investment in their work, community and colleagues. In times like this year, when it seems like we’ve been hit with obstacle after obstacle, it’s a privilege that every day I get to see such a hopeful indicator of our community’s future.”

In the process of helping others, ASIOs have also been able to hone their own skills. Reflecting on her experience as an ASIO, Hayley Pang explains how adaptability has been an incredibly valuable skill:

“As we realised things were quickly changing, we went through a process of identifying what was lacking in the current processes, brainstorming possible solutions and asking “how would this benefit the students we assist?” This process taught me that adaptability is not just being able to respond to changes quickly, but also being able to respond to changes with an open mind.”

Dana, Tash, Hayley

With Semester 2 now well and truly underway, both Sonny and Hayley emphasise the importance of students looking after their wellbeing.

“With everyone going on, it’s easy to forget about self-care,” said Hayley.

“If you’re in isolation, make sure you keep in touch with your friends and family through virtual catch-ups or over the phone. If you’re not in isolation, check up on those who are,” added Sonny.

Claudia, Tess and Marian

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Thank you to our ASIOs for all their hard work during COVID-19. Tom, Dana, Khashif, Evynn, Sean, Caity, LC, Tash, Eleanor, Claudia, Debbie, Marcus, Hayley, Sonny and Elroy:- we couldn’t have done it without you.