I must have heard the phrases “get involved” and “network” three hundred times at my Orientation. I heard it so much that it totally shut me off to the idea of getting “involved,” and I was worried that I would end up a slave to whatever group I was in like my Orientation leaders. I over-involved myself in high school, and I was so burnt out that I was not about to jump head first into more meetings, committees and arguments over club funding. Leaving my Orientation session, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to involve myself at all just to stick it to the “OSIL (Office of Student Involvement & Leadership) man.” However, my one-woman protest didn’t last very long….
I got up early one morning in July to check my email. The first thing in my inbox was an email explaining the new “Portfolios of Excellence” mentoring program that was to be offered to first year freshman. What struck me was the name. The term ‘excellence’ connotated that some feeling of success was to come from being part of this group. I also figured that it would be a good idea to have a mentor since I was new to the whole college thing, and was a little nervous about starting the semester two months later. I applied online via BSC’s Involvement Network, and was accepted. Right there, I knew my one woman protest was over. I gave into the man before school even started. When September came around we had a POE Opening Get-Together where we would meet our mentors and the other students in our group. I was pleased with my faculty mentor, she was a professor in the Social Work department and was pretty helpful during my first couple of weeks of school. For the time being, I was pretty content being involved in just one club. I made a new promise to myself that it would be the only club I would join. At least that was the promise I made to myself until the Fall Honors Program dinner in September…
I was faring pretty well in my quest to only involve myself in one club. Later in September, I went to the Fall Honors Program dinner. At this point, I didn’t really know anyone, so I sat at a table of complete strangers. The six of us made small talk. In conversation, one girl mentioned that she was the secretary of the Social Justice League on campus. When I hear that I almost spit my mashed potatoes out on the table. I couldn’t believe that there was a group on campus that actually appealed to my interests. I have always been passionate about socially conscious issues, but coming from the Conservative heartland of Massachusetts, I was always alone in my quest to help the homeless or bring fair trade bananas to my High School. I could feel the promise I made to myself about not getting involved slipping away quickly. While we were in line at the ice cream bar, I asked the girl how I go about joining SJL. She was really excited at the prospect of a new member; as soon as we returned to the table she took my email and put me on the mailing. I attended my first meeting that following Friday, and haven’t looked back since. The kids in that group are some of the most passionate and hardworking kids on campus, and I’m glad to be involved in an organization that has such a presence on campus. Joining SJL made realize that getting involved isn’t so bad, in fact, it’s the easier way to meet new people, make friends and network. I was no longer angry at that thought of involvement, and I wanted to find new ways to further involve myself in the BSC campus community.
As you may recall in my last post, I talked about my involvement in the Leadership Institute. That program truly helped me hone my leadership skills, and connect with some great people. I am here writing these blogs for you because of the power of networking. I would’ve never met my boss, Ed if I hadn’t met Beth through the Leadership Institute first. My lousy attempt at “stickin’ it to the man” taught me that involvement is a good thing and reinforced the idea that college is what YOU put into it. With my experiences working with POE, SJL, and the Leadership Institute, I’m not about ready to turn my back on getting involved anytime soon. I actually can’t get enough of it, and I’m really excited to see where my work with SJL and POE take me.
Sometimes we enter new things with negative attitudes and fixed ideas, as I did with the views on getting involved. My poor attempt at trying to fight the “man” before I even met the “man” failed me miserably because I had the wrong idea about it. Getting involved really is a good thing, and your Orientation leaders ARE NOT lying to you or not being genuine when they say how much they love the groups they are associated with.
How about you? What organizations are you involved in, if any? What were your apprehensions about getting involved on campus?
Here is a great story about Tent City, in cased you missed it, from The Enterprise in Brockton: