Montana Hunter: It’s Never Too Late to Get Involved

Montana Hunter

“Graduating students – don’t forget you can still be involved,” says Montana Hunter, a fourth-year Honours History and International Relations student. “Just because you’re in fourth year doesn’t mean you can’t try to get into something. There’s always some time.”

Hunter has just wrapped up his successful winter 2012 campaign for a student senator position in the Alma Mater Society (AMS). He’s also the fourth-year representative for the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS), student representative for the History department, and vice-president of the Grad Class Council. Yet a year ago, Hunter himself wouldn’t have envisioned the range of activities on his plate today.

“This one’s a bit surprising for me, actually, because I was disconnected with anything beyond academics at UBC,says Hunter.I was never really involved in anything on campus until part-way through my third year.”

The connection between academics and campus involvement may seem tenuous, but Hunter credits the first-year Arts One program for shaping the bulk of his undergraduate experience.

“Arts One has actually had a huge effect,” he says. “It made me a lot more aware of how History is conducted beyond the BA level, and propelled me in the direction of the Honours program. But, in a way, it also got me into the whole area of student leadership too.”

While completing his third year, Hunter was convinced by a fellow Arts One graduate to volunteer as an Orientations Squad Leader. The experience proved transformational; Hunter discovered his passion for working with new students and My Undergraduate Group (MUG) leaders.

“It gave me a blast of school spirit in a way that I hadn’t had before,” Hunter recalls. “So come September, I thought, ‘Why not try to get more involved?’ So I ended up getting on the University and External Relations Committee as a student-at-large of the AMS.”

The dive into student politics allowed Hunter to witness the AMS’ approach to negotiating with UBC, the government, and TransLink. Fascinated by this new knowledge, he resolved to take his commitment to student politics further.

“AMS is surprisingly serious overall. But it’s really pushed me to try to stand up for students’ rights,” Hunter says. “Student politics accomplishes a remarkable amount, and no one really gives it the credit it deserves. Stuff like the U-Pass Program, the honorary degrees that just happened recently for Japanese-Canadian UBC students [who were sent to internment camps during World War II] – all of that was pushed by students. And I cannot say enough just how important that is, how important it is to be engaged.”

The juggling act between student politics and academics, of course, has not been easy.

“It’s a very, very fine line. But having said that, I’ve also figured out ways to study more effectively,” says Hunter. “The biggest thing I’ve started doing this past year is getting a calendar and making to-do lists on it. So while I don’t have as much time to delve as deeply into my studies as I wish, it’s given me a way to accomplish everything I set my mind to. And that’s really helped me organize my life: to-do lists. I sound like a crotchety old man when I’m saying that, but it really works.

Looking back, Hunter says his only regret is not participating sooner. His role in student politics has helped clarify his future pursuits – which may include a degree in either international studies or international justice. Hunter plans on using his fifth year to engage more deeply with the university community, and urges other Arts students to do the same.

“If I hadn’t done Orientations, there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t have gotten involved in politics. It’s really given me the idea that students can get engaged, later on in their degree,” he says. “You don’t necessarily have to dive into everything at once, but just try to be engaged in something that you’re interested in. It’s not worth going through university and not caring about anything. So even if you don’t feel like you have a lot of experience in the area, just go for it.”

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Written by Melissa Huang
Article Published May 21, 2012