How to get involved on campus

Joe Cuda

Class of 2015 accounting major at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

I knew when I came to college a few years ago that I needed to do more with my school. Because I hadn’t been very involved with extracurricular activities in high school, college was another chance to try what I had passed on. I’m glad I took up the opportunity because after three years and counting of all kinds of college involvement, it has given me so much and been a highlight of my college career. Even when it’s done, I will feel so much more connected to my alma mater. There have been so many awesome school events to attend over the years– the weekly club meetings, Christmas dances, weekend excursions, service trips or high stake fundraisers- and it’s been a joy to be part of.

You really can’t go wrong by participating in all your college has to offer. Let’s face it and just say college is not all about the schoolwork. It’s important for sure but it’s not everything. Your college is a world in itself worthy of exploration. You are there, whether you know it or not, to better discover who you are, and the schoolwork is only one way to help you figure that out. So no matter what size school you attend there is a multitude of school activities which exist for your interests, pursuits, personal growth and downright fun that can’t be found in textbooks. Whether it is in residence life, campus ministry, school events, student organizations/committees or whatever, it’s all there for your advantage.

At the beginning of the school year, my college hosts the student activities fair where every organization on campus has an information table and representatives to talk to. This was where I got my start. My freshman year, I remember I was signing up for more than I could ever do! I just wanted to try new things and have options. But the stage was set. By eventually just showing up to club meetings and other events, I was getting to know a lot of other students. The friendships began to form and strengthen because I kept showing up to these opportunities. Its simple but it really does make a difference in the long run. I made friendships that first year which continue until now and will even beyond college because of the opportunities provided by campus activities.

Fast forward and now I am in my senior year. I’ve stayed involved only because I first got involved. It’s been exciting to work alongside friends. I’m lucky and grateful to hold numerous leadership positions in different organizations on campus. I can’t say I ever really sought such positions in the beginning but things honestly just happen. It’s a combination of the people you meet and the commitment you have shown to the cause.

The work I have been able to do and experience through extra curricular activities has helped me to better figure out who I am and the gifts I offer. I have been put in situations deemed out of my comfort zone. I have helped with causes that have challenged my thinking. And there have been many encounters which have expanded my horizons to the world beyond me. Through it all, I’ve come out stronger then when I went in. I understand more clearly what there is about me that makes me “me”. I think such a growing discovery of identity can happen to anyone who chooses to give themselves to some sort of involvement in college. Especially if you gain a leadership position, you will find what you are made of. And that’s a good thing because it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Through continued involvement and leadership positions, your gifts can be brought to light. You are after all a person bestowed with remarkable abilities and gifts no one else exactly has. You are a mystery to say the least. Getting involved and pursuing your varying interests is certainly a component to that mystery game.

Now I admit my campus involvement has at times overshadowed my schoolwork, but it’s all been worth it. I came away with so much more than I ever thought. The relationships with others are everything. And getting to know yourself through the different experiences is surely an adventure.

That first year of college can seem daunting. The key to adjusting though is in the relationships you build with others and yourself.

Campus involvement is a surefire way to do this! It opens up doors in college and beyond.

So keep your heart open and be willing to get involved with what your school offers. Join a club or two, attend those school functions, and seek out different opportunities. Your college experience can be that much better.

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