The Colombini legacy will live on through the next Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President: Jana Colombini.
Colombini is a third-generation Cal Poly student. Her grandfather was involved in Mustang Daily and was a member of the crops club, while her father was on ASI Senate — the Board of Directors of that time — representing the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). Her brother, Jason Colombini, was the 2013-14 ASI president.
“I am going to the continue the legacy and representation that we like to give back and have a positive influence in whatever we are involved in,” Colombini said. “What happens is we join organizations, fall in love with them and then figure out how we can make them better.”
Colombini has had an active role in ASI since her sophomore year, when she served on the Board of Directors as a CAFES representative before becoming the Board of Directors vice chair as a junior.
“What my family really strives for is to get involved,” Colombini said. “There is another aspect that comes from extracurriculars; those Learn by Doing opportunities that are outside your academic classes like ASI and clubs are a part of that.”
Her interest in agricultural sciences stems from the summers she spent working on her parents’ ranch in Linden, Calif. She used that money to fully fund her ASI campaign.
However, money was not the only factor backing her. Without the support and friendly competition from her brother, Colombini would not be where she is today.
It all started her freshman year of high school: Jason was the ASB president while Jana was her freshman class president. It was a deja vu moment when Jana first ran for Board of Directors at the end of Jason’s term as ASI president. She jokingly said that fortunately her brother hadn’t besmirched the Colombini name before he left Cal Poly.
Despite her brother preceding her, Jana has climbed her way to the top on her own accord.
“He sat down with me and made sure that I was reaching for ASI president because it was something that I wanted to do, and I wasn’t basing wanting to run because my brother did it,” Colombini said. “He’s served as huge role model, but I wanted to do this because I love it and felt I was the best person for the job.”
Colombini’s previous experience with student government will help her transition into the role of ASI president.
“ASI experience is absolutely critical because you know how ASI works, you know how to get what you want to get done and that’s a key component to it,” Jason said. “She’s got those relationships with administrators and knows how all the different departments work; she’s going to be able to hit the ground running really, really quickly.”
Not only does knowing the ins and outs of ASI have its advantage, but loving what you do is a key component, Board of Directors Chair Vittorio Monteverdi said.
“I have not seen anyone else within student government with as much passion as she has,” mechanical engineering senior Monteverdi said. “Last year, she and I put on the ‘It’s on Us‘ week and it was a great success, and I just saw her put the same energy and love into everything else she does.”
Her commitment to everything she does is going to make her successful as ASI president, University Union Advisory Board (UUAB) Chair Sevelyn VanRonk said.
“I know Jana pretty well from working with her this past year and she definitely the person who will give her full 100 percent with everything that she does,” child development senior VanRonk said. “She has great follow-through, so I really do believe that all the things she campaigned on, she will really put forth next year.”
Colombini said she wanted to become involved in greek life since her freshman year, but had initially met a good group of friends in Week of Welcome (WOW) and missed the registration deadline as a sophomore. She felt too old to join a sorority in September, but when Alpha Gamma Delta (AGD) came to campus in Winter 2015, she decided to take that leap.
“It was a chance to be involved in something that was starting from the ground up, set the foundation and help the organization succeed,” Colombini said. “It’s all about empowering women which is a very impactful message.”
Colombini also felt a personal connection with the sorority because one of its philanthropies supports diabetic awareness, and her grandfather was diabetic.
Holding off on recruitment for the past couple years was the right choice because she fell in love with AGD — and the people — as soon as she found out about it.
“Everyone is so supportive. It puts a smile on my face to talk about them,” Colombini said. “They are my sisters and my family; they are just a solid group of awesome individuals.”
Her sisters were a huge part of her support system, in addition to her other family: ASI. In the weeks leading up to her campaign, her friends were either at the booths in the University Union (UU) Plaza or on Dexter Lawn to act as a presence for her when she wasn’t able to.
After getting approximately four hours of sleep, Colombini set out on the final day of voting to make sure that even if students didn’t vote for her, they were aware of the elections. As she walked from her class to the UU, her mind was running a mile a minute so much so that she hadn’t eaten anything all day. When her name was announced, it was overwhelming to say the least.
“At that moment, I was completely in shock, everyone giving me hugs, so distracted about other things; it still hasn’t hit me quite yet,” Colombini said.“Once it hits me, I will break out into a million tears, but what I really learned is that I am proud of myself because I tried to campaign as hard as I could so that everyone was informed on my platforms.”
Jason Colombini was almost as excited as his sister.
“I can’t even describe how proud of her I am right now,” he said. “She has a different plan and she’s going to make her own legacy.”
Care, communicate, connect
Current ASI President Owen Schwaegerle created the different secretary positions during fall quarter, which Colombini wants to continue. She is going to take it one step further by creating and selecting her Secretary of Diversity and Inclusivity before the quarter is over.
Additionally, Colombini wants to get students registered to vote in San Luis Obispo so the students can have their voice heard in matters affecting the city.
She plans to gradually implement different aspects of her platform as she sees fit.
“My goal is that each one of the platforms will happen simultaneously and will be a continuing effort,” Colombini said. “It will be a rolling effort throughout the year so at least I will be setting the groundwork, if not completely accomplishing the platform.”
She also plans to provide outreach on the role of ASI. According to Colombini, the ASI president’s role is to be a university-wide representative for all Cal Poly students.
“ASI president makes an impact because in a lot of meetings, they are the only student representative,” Colombini said. “You have to make sure the student voice is taken into account by administration and faculty.”