Nicole Zanesco ’19 shares some fond memories, talks to us about graduating and fills us in on what she plans to do post-Quest.
You’re just about to graduate. How exciting! Give us the post-grad details.
I’m heading back home to Calgary for the summer to work, rest and prepare for my move to London, UK. While I’m home, I hope to do some wildlife photography, sleep and read a novel…for fun!
What’s happening in London!?
I’ll be pursuing a Master’s of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. While I’m there, I hope to continue the research I started at Quest.
I’m excited to be at the centre of political science research, but even more excited to see the other Quest alums that are in London. There’s also amazing bird watching in the UK, which is a significant bonus!
Awesome! So, back to Quest… Were you involved in any initiatives on campus?
Throughout my time at Quest, I have been most involved in student and university governance. In my second year, I acted as Minister of External Affairs, and in my third year, I was President of the Students’ Representative Council. Now, in my fourth year, I am Quest’s first Student Liaison to the Board of Governors, sit on the Ombudsperson Committee, and I’m the news editor for The Mark, our student-run magazine.
I have also been involved in TEDx QuestU, Polaris, and Dancing Bear. However, most of my time is spent advocating for student initiatives and policy change. My greatest hope is that I‘ve changed the community for the better!
You’ve been busy! What will you miss most about Quest?
It’s going to be a shock going from living with five roommates to none! I am going to miss the close friendships, especially my roommates and our Lord of the Rings marathons. I’m going to miss my academic mentor, who has helped me through a lot, and the opportunities Quest provided to shape the community.
I will also miss how beautiful BC is and how much the people here care about the different pieces of our world. At the same time, by the end of my time at Quest, I feel ready to move forward and start a new chapter of life.
What’s one of your favourite Quest memories?
I have a lot of favourite memories, not all of which I can share in an interview!
It’s hard to choose between four Dancing Bears, 33 credits worth of classes, and tons of outdoor adventures. One of my favourite memories is when a few friends and I refurbished a generator, brought it into a forest by a body of water (I won’t say which one), and hosted a musical get together by the water. It was beautiful and one of the moments where I felt the strongest connection to Quest as a community. Once it was time to go home, we packed everything up without leaving a trace, stopped for pizza, and went back up to campus.
Quest students have this amazing ability to make something extraordinary out of nothing, as seen with most of the initiatives on campus, and that will stay with me long after graduation.
Did any Quest faculty in particular play an important role in your process?
Yes! I have one official mentor and two, I guess you could say, pseudo-mentors. André Lambelet is my official mentor. He guided me through all my ups and downs at Quest. I’ve learned so much from his classes and feel lucky that he’s taken the time to run multiple independent studies with me. The amount of care he put into my academic pursuits at Quest changed my life.
My pseudo-mentors are Jasmine Aimaq (now director of communications) and Colin Bates. They’ve both been influential over my time at Quest, through their classes, and the conversations we have. Some of the most important parts of Quest are the connections you make. It really elevates the experience and challenges you to be better.
Looking back, what advice would you offer your first-year self?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goal; whether it’s because of time, your own abilities, or the system. If young people believe that striving for change is futile, then all we are left with is complicity. Quest, being so new, offers many opportunities for you to learn how to build a community and shape it with the values you and your cohort hold, so don’t be afraid to pursue that change.