College experiences

Jennifer is an Illinois State University alumna who studied journalism news editorial and minored in writing. She worked for the school newspaper, The Vidette and was a part of the PR organization on campus, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Shortly after walking across the stage to receive her “fake” diploma, she studied abroad in Florence, Italy for one month. She currently freelances with writing, social media and PR. Contact Jennifer at [email protected] for any questions or advice.

Growing up I never participated in any school activities because I was a full-time rhythmic gymnast outside of school. With at least 20 hours of training a week, I was considered varsity and was permitted to leave high school early to go to daily practices.

While I would never regret anything I did, I definitely wish I dove into more activities at school. Dance, cheer and poms are similar to rhythmic gymnastics and I had a high interest in writing, but I never tried out for any of the teams and I never wrote for yearbook or the school newspaper.

College is where I made a change. While it took me time to find my place, transitioning from one college to another, swapping major’s only to swap back, I finally found the perfect school and major for me. By my junior year, I was on top of the world as a journalism news editorial major at Illinois State University.

After a little push from some friends, I joined both, the school newspaper, The Vidette and the school’s public relations organization, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) by second semester of junior year. Now you might think this sounds a little late in the game considering graduation was only three semesters away, but as a new door opened to opportunities, my passions developed instantaneously. Let me tell you, no matter when you join any club, group, organization, etc., you will never be too late.

Whatever spark went off in me, I grasped any chance I got head on and made the best of all I did. Within one semester I was promoted in both organizations and held leadership roles by my senior year. I became a director of the relations committee in PRSSA, where I was responsible for the organization’s blog and two newsletters and anyone in the organization who chose to write for either publication. As for The Vidette, by my final semester of senior year, I was not only senior staff writer and an intern, but I also became supplement editor. A supplement is a little magazine, which gets tucked into the newspaper about four times per semester.

During one of my first PRSSA meetings, a member once told me she regrets not joining the organization sooner. Later, I realized I felt the same way with PRSSA and The Vidette. While balancing major classes, working out, going out with friends, seeing a significant other as often as possible and overall living (groceries, laundry, cleaning the apartment, etc.), balancing school activities in addition to this list became a passion of mine.

When you finally realize the work you are doing is not because a professor is telling you to do so, but you are doing the work because you truly enjoy it, you know you are in the right place. Furthermore, you just started building your resume, which goes a long way after graduation.
After I walked across the stage for graduation in May, I grasped the final opportunity I was able to as an undergraduate student and studied abroad for one month in Florence, Italy, pushing my graduation date to August. This is yet another resume builder and another experience I highly recommend, as traveling on your own and breaking out of your shell is one of the most incredible opportunities you will experience.

Now while my passions lie in journalism, my examples of being active on campus works for any major or hobby. If you are in the science department, find a science group on campus and join in! Studying to be a nurse? Find a part-time job at a health clinic, pharmacy or even the on-campus health center. The list can continue for a long time. Additionally, there are groups on campus to join non-related to your major such as Greek life or sports. Who knows, one day you join the basketball team and the next you become your office’s NCAA March Madness representative.

I am forever grateful for the unbelievable opportunities I became a part of. The possibilities are endless and I highly encourage for all students to try and dig deep to find a passion or hobby your enjoy. You may be surprised and even wish you started sooner too. Good luck to you all!

College experiences

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