How I got involved: I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire where I started to feel disconnected from the community as I got older. Coming to UConn as an out of state student, I was most excited about a new start and meeting a large community of people. I began my freshman year living in the Human Rights and Action Learning Community. This proved to be a great decision because it introduced me to Community Outreach, which has become my home for the past two years. My opportunities as a participant in different programs such as Alternative Breaks and weekly volunteering, as well as continued leadership experience have transformed my time at UConn and given me a sense of community that I no longer had in my home town. These experiences then gave me the confidence to apply for other leadership opportunities. I now am involved with UConn Empower, Four Arrows, and the Human Rights Institute Fellowship program. Throughout my continued involvement, there were so many moments where I questioned if I was qualified for these positions because I began my leadership at a younger age and working with older students was quite intimidating. However, thanks to the confidence given to me through the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, and the community I’ve become connected with, I’ve grown as a person and a leader.
Advice for students new to campus: At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t have regrets. To quote a phenomenal woman, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Apply for that job or leadership position you don’t think you’re qualified for - it may create friendships and opportunities you never could have dreamed of. I certainly wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I hadn’t followed that advice. UConn is full of incredible people and opportunities but you must be the one to step up and take advantage of them.
How I got involved: When I came to UConn, I was overwhelmed by the sudden feeling of being a very small fish in a very large pond. I went from being a top-of-the-class high school student, to a painfully average college student. The transition from “big fish” to “little fish” hit me much harder than I was expecting. However, things started to turn around for me when I did the thing everyone tells you to do at college: I got involved. My freshman year I got involved with Community Outreach, and found my “home away from home”. This community of dedicated students and staff welcomed me with open arms, and has provided me with job-related experience in my field, leadership opportunities, and priceless connections within the communities surrounding UConn. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and challenging myself, I was able to find my place on this campus.
Advice for students new to campus: Feeling overwhelmed at first is normal, and it gets better. Take advantage of resources, open your mind to new experiences, and always go after new opportunities as they come to you. But in doing so, always keep in mind that self-care is important! It is great to challenge yourself, but it is also easy to get lost in whatever you get involved in. Practice self-care in order to put your best self forward when trying new things!
How I got involved: I remember going to the Involvement Fair my freshman year and signing up for tons of clubs and receiving an overwhelming amount of emails for meetings during my first month. I ultimately found my home in Community Outreach (CO). I began as a volunteer in one of the programs during my first semester, and eventually applied to be a Trip Director in the Alternative Break program. In addition to being a student leader in CO, I became involved as a mentor in the Rainbow Center mentoring program. Both of these programs allowed me to to grow into the student, leader, and community member I am today and to meet some of my best friends.
Advice for students new to campus: I would tell new students that UConn is an absolutely amazing place to be, but it is really normal to feel alone or unsure during your first semester. There are so many opportunities to meet different people in so many ways. I would encourage students to keep trying new experiences, whether it be applying for a job on campus, attending new club meetings, or participating in a service day. If students are able to, I would also recommend trying to study abroad during one semester or even the summer. This can broaden your perspective, allow you to grow while seeing amazing things, and meet people you might never have come across on campus.
How I got involved: I began to get involved my first year to stay active on campus and branch out. I was involved with at least four different organizations my freshmen year, and it all began with the Involvement Fair that was held on Fairfield Way. Walking up and down the fair looking at each booth to find what piqued my interest was quite intimidating as a freshman. The one club that I searched for to allow me to feel more at home was Mock Trial. It has been a passion of mine since the beginning of high school and was a club that I wanted to remain a part of through college. Two organizations that I have invested many hours in and love deeply are, Community Outreach and Husky Outreach for Leadership Development Understanding and Pride (HOLDUP). My beginnings with these two organizations were due to others encouraging me to get involved, and I couldn’t be happier that I listened. Both Community Outreach and HOLDUP have become like families on such a large campus for me. They have allowed me to grow and further educate myself outside of the classroom, while making an impact in the local and national community.
Advice for students new to campus: I highly recommend finding your place. Sometimes that means checking out a bunch of things to see what you like and what makes you feel at home. I believe that staying active and meeting people will help you improve overall as well as in class, since you have to remain organized and stay on a schedule. Meeting new like-minded people will also open doors for you and allow for greater growth and opportunities that may not have been otherwise offered. Being an out-of-state student was a difficult transition, but by getting involved I overcame my fear of not fitting in or missing friends and family back at home. I chose to make campus my home and utilized the organizations within reach as my tools to lay a foundation for my collegiate career.
How I got involved: Before coming to Storrs, I spent my first two years at UConn Hartford. UConn Hartford was helpful to me in finding my place and starting my development as a student leader and young professional. In transitioning to Storrs though, I found myself overwhelmed with the expanse of opportunity, the breadth of student involvements, and the insatiable desire to experience some of everything. I quickly found myself spread razor thin. I got involved as an executive in three separate organizations, became a general member in 5+ organizations, joined the Honors Program, became an RA, and joined a fraternity. While I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities and privileges I’ve had, for me, the most valuable experiences have come from the opportunities I have gotten to blaze my own path. The experiences that have been most impactful for me have been the ones in which my involvements have been a vehicle for me to pursue and accomplish my passions. As an RA, coordinating my own programs; in the Undergraduate Student Government Senate, developing my own projects or finding new solutions; and most recently in identifying a new problem and starting my own club.
Advice for students new to campus: This leads me to my greatest piece of advice for you on your journey: always remember that your involvements are tools to enrich your experience, diversify your skillset, streamline your process, and mainly, to help you grow. Be vigilant in assessing when your involvements are pushing you forward or holding you back. Time is short and four years can fly by. Dedicate yourself to the things that maximize your potential, push you, and do the most good for the people around you.
How I got involved: Before accepting my admissions offer to UConn, I feared taking a chance on the University. It was uncertain I would be accepted into the Education Program, or that I would adapt at such a large university having graduated from a small school. Once I accepted, I began browsing UConn’s organizations in search of opportunities to get involved - that’s where I came across Jumpstart. You might say I “jumped” right into a program I knew little about, but I submitted an application and took a chance on an opportunity that would change my life. Over the next three years, Jumpstart and Community Outreach, would become my ‘Home.’ This year someone asked me, “Are you Jenna from Jumpstart?” That question stuck with me, and I felt prideful to represent the program. I recognized that I had grown on my journey from Corp Member, to Team Leader, to this year’s Volunteer Coordinator; becoming a student leader and advocate. I learned that lifelong friends are not just made in high school; that it’s possible to meet some of your best friends in college. I connected with the communities we serve, and was touched by the children I worked with. I found a place I felt welcomed and safe to take risks. Jumpstart was how I found myself in college, and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Advice for students new to campus: There are several ‘uncertainties’ when it comes to transitioning to college. But, I encourage you to take risks and seek out opportunities as early as possible. Some things may land at your feet, while others may take some searching for. Take time to not only learn about the UConn community, but the communities around the University. Lose yourself in service.
How I got involved: I was so eager to start college. I imagined myself being involved in a myriad of activities, just like in high school. I went to the Involvement Fair and spent close to two hours there signing my email for practically every other club. However, joining “everything” did not go as planned, as my courses were extremely demanding and in early October I learned that one of my friends had passed away. These two things were overwhelming and I often felt helpless wandering in my own loneliness. At this point I was thinking of transferring if things didn’t get better. (Luckily they did.) That winter, I went on my first Alternative Break. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had and I truly made fifty-one new friends on the trip! Then in March, I went on another one and made another eighteen friends. I also became more involved in the Undergraduate Student Government and a bunch of other organizations. During my second semester, I began to familiarize myself with UConn and make it my home. My Leadership Learning Community truly helped me become involved with many of the activities at UConn, as I received advice from wiser individuals.
Advice for students new to campus: So, things may not go as planned but it doesn’t mean that it won’t get better. As much as you think you are alone on campus, you are 110% NOT. If you get lonely, realize that it’s a common thing that everyone feels being away from home, but the best way to tackle it is to do something about it. I would definitely say to get involved in something so you don’t spend your time in your room. Go out and meet new people because this is the best time to. Soon you’ll find yourself studying and eating with new friends and you won’t feel so lonely anymore. Lastly, use the resources around you and ask questions. People want to help you but you have to be willing. College is something extremely new and different but don’t be afraid, you’ve got this!
How I got involved: Radio by swarming around the Student Union during the first week of classes and seeing a DJ on-air inside of the studio. I bumped into the General Manager at the time and they told me everything about the training process and how to continue my involvement. Next thing you know, I was the Communication Director my sophomore year, the Operations Manager my junior year, and now, the same position that makes this all full circle.
Advice for students new to campus: My advice for new UConn students is to take a breather and see all options ready for you whether it be academics and/or non-academics; start broad and then focus on what aligns with your true interests.
How I got involved: Once I arrived at UConn Avery Point as a freshman, I was dedicated to redefining myself and finding what I was good at. I was a part of the Husky Ambassadors program, where I could work with the University as well as surrounding town programs. The combination of giving tours of the campus and doing community outreach gave me great insight. When I came to Storrs I wanted to continue to capitalize on the opportunities outside of class. While I was new to the campus and didn’t know many people, I was able to get involved thanks to connections I had made. This year I served as the Schola2rs House Learning Community’s floor mentor, I worked with kids in Hartford through Husky Sport, attended conferences, and spoke on panels. While academics are my number one priority, I won’t let it be the only thing I get out of this University.
Advice for students new to campus: Take nothing for granted – especially being a college student. You may never get the opportunity to make a lasting impact like this again. If you try and fit in with ideals and values you don’t personally agree with, you will never find your path. While it is not easy to juggle school, work, and involvement, enjoy doing things you are passionate about. I encourage you to make the most of the opportunities offered here. They have given me long-term character development while giving me an everyday purpose!
How I got involved: I first lived in the Leadership Learning Community my freshman year. Despite this, I struggled my first year since I did not fully take advantage of the many opportunities offered on campus. I did not recognize at first that involvement not only helped socially, but could boost your academic success, as well. I grappled with the transition into college, and fell into some trouble at the University. But, when I decided to join the Men’s Rugby Team my second semester, I was able to learn to be disciplined in handling the various time commitments there are in college, while also being welcomed by a group of people I now consider to be my closest friends. I went home that summer thinking of ways to get more involved on campus. Sophomore year I hit the ground running. I founded two cultural organizations with my friends, began working with Community Standards, and explored various career-based clubs, including a co-ed business fraternity (Pi Sigma Epsilon), and the Connecticut Investors Association. Now, I am the President of the Rugby Team and Turkish Student Association.
Advice for students new to campus: You can always find time in the day to do something, but you have to prioritize and take chances. Someone saying, “I don’t have time” means, “it is not a priority.” You have to come into college prioritizing your goals and ambitions, and by doing that, you will find time to do all of the things you want to do, like get good grades, make new friends, etc. Make sure you give people and new experiences a chance at UConn. There is always a new friend to be made or something to learn about. I discovered what I want to do with my career by joining new clubs, I’ve found my best friends and most importantly, I have found out who I am, and who I am not through involvement at UConn.