As we now move into one of the busiest times of the year (and the glorious and inevitable end of the academic year), there is still considerable time to draw from and engage with your community.
Engagement looks different for different people. It could mean how connected you are to your classroom experience and your professor. It could stand for how invested you are in the culture and building of Towson University. For some, engagement means prioritizing their co-curricular interests and endeavors on the same level as their academics. For others, it might mean being present at a few large community events or showing up to meetings and listening to what’s brewing on the student organization platform. For many still, engagement means connecting with the world through social media and lending their voice and ‘likes.’ Student engagement and leadership can also become an oft-repeated cliché as some are only looking to participate in things that boost their resume and/or career potential. I mean, is that so wrong after all? Isn’t that why you’re in school? (I’m withholding judgment, and asking you, but as you ponder about why engagement is for you…)
- Shake it off
It can be challenging to add something new or additional to your plate at this point in the semester. It can also be hard to get excited about said new thing because of academic and social obligations you might already have. However, remember that engagement has been proven time and time again to enhance the experience of college students and to positively impact academic success. Don’t overthink involvement as a failed cause because it’s late in the semester. You don’t need to join five new groups. One will do just fine. Shake it off and dive in.
- If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it
You don’t want to regret not meeting more people and learning new ideas when college is over. Time flies when you’re having fun, but lucky for you, college is (at least) four years long. It’s hard to keep up with all the great causes you can sign up to be involved with on and off-campus. But don’t get stuck in the rut of analysis-paralysis. If you’ve had a cause that interests you (and it’s been on your radar for a while), make a commitment to learn more about how you can become involved with it before the end of this school year! Commitment doesn’t have to be a demanding process; start slow with a few areas of interest and determine if you want to increase your level of involvement through leadership opportunities. Thriving tigers make sure to give their interests and subsequent engagement a chance.
- And we’re still waiting. Waiting on the world to change
So you’ve narrowed down your interest and causes but still can’t find the courage and inspiration to commit? A gentle reminder: causes, big or small, need all kinds of people, skills and energies to excel. We all offer unique insights based on our cultural backgrounds and experiences. You may not think your group participation and contributions will be grand (and subsequently world-changing!), but your engagement and presence not only shifts your experience on campus, it also has a domino effect on the lived experiences of those around you. Carl Jung once said that “the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Don’t just wait for the world to change and transform. Go out there and do your part.
- Don’t brag about it, come show me
We all have something we do like a boss. Whether it’s your organizational skills, your social butterfly rep, or your ability to get others interested in a cause, hone into your ‘skill set’ and start exploring where you can put it to good use. Not sure what your skill set entails? Think about things that you do on the reg without any real effort and thought, but people often point out and admire/compliment you on that quality or qualities. That is your natural skill set.
College can be a great place to start exploring the many ways to get involved with your community, whether it’s through community service, retreats and conferences or student organizations. Once you narrow down your interest areas and natural skill sets, connect the two to start determining how best to engage with a group or cause. Happy engaging!
Inspired to learn more about involvement opportunities with multicultural student organizations on campus? Contact the Center for Study Diversity for more information or visit www.towson.edu/diversity/multicultural.
Mahnoor Ahmed, M.S.
Women’s Resources, Center for Student Diversity