Graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and Women’s & Gender Studies, Caitlin is a Boston native with a strong devotion to social justice. Her writing aims to promote change and to inspire new waves of thought. A true lover of life, she believes in taking advantage of each opportunity that crosses her path-actively living by the motto “love life and life will love you back.”
College is a time when one is emerged in education, with the freeing power of choice to determine what they desire to learn about. Choosing a major and minor allows students to fuel their passions and interests, thus growing into the best student-versions of themselves.
However for the students who believe their learning stops in the classroom, a typical education follows. Perhaps the greatest portion of an education is hands on, experiential learning; involvement that inspires self-educating. Being in college, students are surrounded with opportunity for involvement at every corner. Taking advantage of this and getting involved is the key that unlocks a deeper, self-created education. Without engaging in nonacademic activities, students are missing out on all the adventure that going to college has to offer.
As a soon to be graduate, I have done a lot of reflection on my college career as my undergrad experience dwindles to a close. Because of my involvement, I am a completely redefined version of the unsure girl who stumbled into her first freshmen year class in 2011. Majoring in Communication Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies opened a window of unique insight of which I am grateful for. Yet my greatest personal growth came from my involvement in education outside of both the classroom and my comfort zone.
Sophomore year I embarked on my first volunteer trip offered by my school, a homeless-outreach experience, set in Washington, D.C. It was there that I became aware of my privilege as a middle-class college student. Everyday we were exposed to people struggling to live without a home to support and comfort them. I left D.C. with an unquenchable thirst to seek social justice anywhere I could.
I participated in other volunteer trips traveling to West Virginia, New Jersey, and internationally to Ecuador. Volunteering with a group of students, I have found, is the most rewarding way to travel. You are not only immersed in the culture but also rubbing elbows with people passionate about helping members of their community that were born into a harsher life than they were. After each day on a volunteer site, the group would meet to discuss what they saw that day, what challenged them, and how they grew from it. Each experience allowed me to deepen education of social justice and completely altered my viewing of the world around me. This learning carried over to my classes, as I often found myself citing things I had seen while volunteering. Had I not embarked on these volunteer trips, I would have never experienced what shaped me into the person that I am today, nor would I have sparked my passion for social justice.
Four years working towards your bachelor’s degree will be what you make of it. Stepping outside of the classroom and your comfort zone is what will allow you to sculpt the best education you can and creating the best version of yourself. What is most rewarding for you is waiting in the involvement center of your school. Create the best possible college experience and explore what experiential learning has in store for you.