Clubs & Organizations

A Simple Hack to Improve Your College Experience: Get Involved!

Brite with her two Collegiate Health Service Corps site volunteers, Radha (middle) and Mehak (right).
Brite with her two Collegiate Health Service Corps site volunteers, Radha (middle) and Mehak (right).

College is the land of opportunity. Although everyone who attends has the same goal of walking away with a degree, academics are only a small portion of the experience. There are over 300 student-run extracurriculars you can choose from, including Undergraduate Philosophy Society, 3D Printing Club, and even UConn Kendo, a Japanese sport that uses bamboo swords to spar. It’s not difficult to discover new interests and find your own niche.

I began my college career trying out different activities. For me, getting involved with Community Outreach has been a very life-changing experience. It is a student-run volunteer organization that coordinates various programs to work with local underserved populations. Some are one-time or weekend service events, while others are semester-long programs that fall under one of the three categories: youth development and education, health, and language learning and literacy. I am currently a site leader for Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC) and Windham Hospital Volunteer Program. Out of the two, CHSC has impacted me the most. Every semester, teams of three are assigned to specific local populations to teach health topics to, where each team has the freedom to design their own lesson plans and incorporate interactive activities. Continue reading

Starting College in a Living Learning Community

To some, the first few days of college are overwhelming and lonely because they struggle to find common ground with the people around them. However, if you’re lucky enough to come into UConn in a Living Learning Community (LLC) such as the Women in Math, Science, and Engineering (WiMSE) learning community, then that adjustment is really already made for you. Living Learning Communities are groups of students that live together based on a common application into that program. For example, there’s WiMSE, Business Connections, Engineering, Innovations, Scholars, EcoHouse, and many more.

WiMSE is a group of women in STEM disciplines. I have lived in the community for two years in various residence halls.  First WiMSE was located in the Watson building of the Alumni residence area, and it has since moved to the NextGeneration Connecticut residence hall.  The group of girls has changed from year to year, but I am still particularly close with the now sophomores of WiMSE. The best part of WiMSE is the mutual understanding between everyone. We all are familiar with the very challenging classes that accompany a STEM major, and find fellowship in the stress of attempting to be accepted into graduate school. WiMSE has given me my best friend, a wonderful position in undergraduate research, many personal and professional connections, as well as Continue reading

Meeting New People in a Stress Relieving Environment

SHAMEE RANG Showcase at Rutgers University
SHAMEE RANG Showcase at Rutgers University

Like most incoming freshmen students, finding a hobby or passion in college is always a struggle in the beginning. Trying to balance your schedule, choosing the required classes, and finding time to study or exercise can be very stressful. As a commuting freshman, it was hard to find a place on campus to let myself go and do something I loved, especially when I did not know anyone coming to UConn. College can make or break you, as preparation for making life choices and becoming independent. For me, my first year in college was tough because I struggled to find an efficient method to study for classes such as Biology 1107, while seeking a place to de-stress. Despite struggling to excel in school during my freshman year, eventually I figured out how to balance my schoolwork, working three jobs at one point, and making time to hang out with friends. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy because I was always stressed about school. Luckily, I took a chance last semester and went to the Fall Involvement Fair, and found an Asian Fusion Acapella group with members who Continue reading

The Transition Nobody Warns You About

When I was in high school, I always had this preconceived idea of what college is supposed to look like, and how it is supposed to be the best four years of your life. That’s why I eagerly applied to schools all outside of New York, with the hopes of meeting new people, discovering myself, achieving success, and being independent. Now as I am halfway through the second semester of my sophomore year, I can proudly say I have accomplished these dreams of mine, but it did not come as easily as I thought it would or should.

Brittany with members of her sorority helping new girls go through Panhellenic recruitment for Fall 2016.
Brittany with members of her sorority helping new girls go through Panhellenic recruitment for Fall 2016.

Before I left for college, I spent 18 years of my life living in the same town as my entire family; this includes my mom’s twelve brothers and sisters and all of my fifty something cousins (yeah I know crazy right?). I was used to seeing my family almost every day, hanging out with my friends who I have known since we were in diapers, and spending much of my free time going to the mall, the beach, the city, or other places where I was constantly surrounded by other people and loud noises. I had received all A’s in my classes while managing to work five days a week and participating in various clubs and extracurricular activities. I thought I really had my life together, and I was expecting to be able to just continue what I was doing in college with ease.

Nobody ever warned me how difficult the transition from high school into college can be for some people. I walked into UConn without knowing anyone, and I remember how scared and lonely I felt those first few weeks. I remember looking at my home friends’ social media accounts and Continue reading

10 Ways to Have a Successful Second Semester

  1. Mindy and her fellow College Ambassador helping out at a food waste seminar on campus.
    Mindy and her fellow College Ambassador helping out at a food waste seminar on campus.

    Let go of last semester – First semester is over, let go off all the stress and bad experiences you’ve had. The best thing about second semester is that it gives you a clean slate and new opportunities. Take advantage of all that UConn has to offer.

  2. Get Involved – A new semester means another involvement fair, another Greek week, and more possibilities. If you aren’t a part of any clubs or organizations step out of your comfort zone and sign up for some. Even if you only go to one meeting you are at least trying out new things. If you are already part of some clubs/organizations, join another if you have time! It never hurts to make friends and be involved in the UConn community. You can also try going to body wise classes that UConn Recreation offers. They are organized fitness classes ranging from yoga to HIIT. Getting involved and trying new things helps you submerse yourself in all UConn has to offer. It will make you feel more comfortable and a part of the community.
  3. Eat breakfast – Eating right gives you the energy to make it through the day. I always eat a balanced breakfast with eggs, toast, and some form of fruit. Last year I always skipped breakfast and found myself getting tired and taking a lot of naps. Now that I make time for not only breakfast, but also lunch and dinner, I feel like I have so much more energy.
  4. Fix your sleep schedule – Along with getting up early enough for class and having enough time to eat breakfast, you want to make sure that you’re getting a good amount of sleep each night. After winter break your sleep schedule is probably all messed up. People sleep until noon maybe even 2pm during break and stay up late or go to bed too early because they’re bored. Being back at school you need the break the habits you just made and fix your sleep schedule. Getting 6 to 8 hours a night gives your body enough of a break to relax and get ready for the next day.
  5. Breakfast at McMahon dining hall.
    Breakfast at McMahon dining hall.

    Plan ahead – After syllabus week you should gather all the important dates from each class and transfer them into your agenda pad/planner. Having exams and quizzes written down will help you plan for studying and plan for weeks that are “free” enough so you can travel that weekend without having a load of homework. Planning ahead is also beneficial not just with course work, but also courses in general. Planning out your semesters in advance will help ease the course picking chaos and allow you to put courses together like a puzzle in terms of labs, discussions, and hard/easy classes. It is good to have a mixture to not overwhelm or underwhelm yourself.

  6. Apply to internships – I don’t know about you but I procrastinate so much during winter break, I don’t want to do anything. However, when I go back to school I need to make sure I’m productive by applying to
    Mindy and her sorority, Sigma Alpha, at the homecoming parade in Fall 2015.
    Mindy and her sorority, Sigma Alpha, at the homecoming parade in Fall 2015.

    internships because they are very important. They provide you with real world experience in your field of study and can be a stepping-stone toward your future job. If you haven’t already started looking I recommend you do so soon! Summer internships normally have their applications open from early January until mid-February and require information like transcripts and letters of recommendation. UConn’s Center for Career Development has a lot of awesome information and advice that helped me when I applied.

  7. Apply for scholarships – Scholarships are so important these days because college is so expensive and debt is piling up. There are thousands of scholarships that can help lessen the financial burden. Topics range from being within your major all the way to writing an essay about a certain book or living in a certain town. UConn has an Office of National Scholarships, which is very helpful in finding specific scholarships, but a classic Google search is also informative.
  8. Find the right ways to study for class – Doing well in your classes is an essential part of having a successful semester! However, all classes and professors have such different teaching methods and testing strategies. Students can go talk to their professors about what material they should be studying, which is very
    Mindy visiting Hammonassett State Park over spring break.
    Mindy visiting Hammonassett State Park over spring break.

    helpful. And sometimes the first test or quiz might not go to well but when you get the hang of how your professor tests you can find the right ways to study for future assignments. Different ways to study could be how you take notes in class. Some people handwrite notes, print power points, type notes, or just listen. Another way to study would be to rewrite your notes or study every night for a single class for a certain amount of time.

  9. Spring Break!!! – Working hard in school is very important, however, relaxing and having fun is important too. Going somewhere for spring break gives you something to work towards and look forward to for the first 2 months of the semester! It’s also a great opportunity to relax for a week and clear your mind before you finish off the year.
  10. Budget your money – it’s so easy to spend over a thousand dollars a semester on food, clothes, and other random things. Then at the end of the semester you are going to wonder where all of your money went and wish you saved it or spent it on something else. It is important to budget your money and realize how much you’re spending when you order/buy something.
  11. Overall, keep going – On the days when you feel like you can’t look at another textbook or hear about another rare bacteria found in the middle of the rainforest, just breathe. Course work can be so stressful and overwhelming, however, it will get done and you will be okay. The key to a successful semester is to not give up and to keep going.

Finding Your Voice in College

Djion in Voice of Freedom Gospel ChoirThe transition into college is understandably a difficult process for any student, especially at such a large university like UConn. My first semester on campus was difficult mainly because I struggled to find my niche; where I was completely comfortable. Though college is a great environment to step out of your comfort zone and try new things it is also important not to forget about the things that you are most passionate about. Throughout my entire high school career I was involved in musical theater; I’ve always had a passion for singing, dancing and acting. I was also raised in a religious family. I can honestly say that I did not fully feel at home on campus until I found an outlet that encompasses the things that I have always been passionate about; singing, and my faith. I found the epitome of what I love and missed the most from home though the UConn Voices of Freedom Gospel Choir (VOF).

Joining the Gospel Choir helped me in a multitude of ways. It gave me a place where I could sing without judgment, surrounded me with people with similar upbringings and values, and most importantly brought me closer to my faith. Though I was new to UConn joining the gospel choir felt like coming home. Joining the Voices of Freedom Gospel Choir also gave me one of the most memorable and spiritual experiences of my life thus far; the annual spring break concert tour. On our last tour we traveled and ministered to congregations in Connecticut, New York, Washington DC, North Carolina, and Georgia. Going on tour not only gave me an opportunity to further build my bond with the other members, but also was a beautiful experience to minister to different people through song along the east coast. Continue reading

A Few Not-So-Typical Reasons Why I Chose UConn

Thinking back to senior year brings back all the stress of having to choose where I was going to go to college. After submitting applications, waiting to hear back, and then having the list of schools from which to choose, I thought the decision would be a lot easier than it was. As someone who really struggles with decision making, choosing where I was going to spend the next four years of my life was not a walk in the park. Clearly, I ended up here at UConn, but my reasoning might not be what you’d expect. Here are a few reasons why I chose UConn:

Emily and SportsSports. It may sound strange to hear that sports were a major factor in my decision of where I would go to school, after all, I am here to study. But, growing up as an athlete, attending high school games, and watching professional sports on TV, while begging my Dad to take me to a Patriots game, I knew it was something I couldn’t live without. I wanted a school where it is normal to wear UConn gear head-to-toe, or scream and jump around my room when I win the lottery for basketball tickets. I wanted to be somewhere that I got chills watching the teams play and maybe even cry when we win a national championship (for the fourth time in a row). I wanted a school with so much spirit that no matter what team was playing, people were always watching. So far I can say that UConn has lived up to my expectations of what it would be like at such an athletic school, but I wouldn’t mind if Continue reading

Maintaining Your Artistic Passions at UConn

My latest painting
My latest painting

As a child, I had a hyperactive imagination. Maybe it was because I was always around my mischievous neighborhood friends, running around and lighting piles of leaves on fire, or maybe it was because I played with dinosaur and Pokémon toys instead of Barbies like most other girls my age. What I do know is that ever since my mother taught me how to hold a pencil when I was two, I have always loved the arts – it was a way for me to channel my ideas. I remember spending hours upon hours sprawled on the carpeted floor with my bucket of crayons, drawing epic battles between griffins and giant lizards and every fantasy scenario that I could imagine.

Music is also another one of my greatest passions. I always keep it playing in the background no matter what I’m doing – homework, striding across campus to class, or just getting ready for the day. Depending on my mood, my music taste fluctuates. When I want to feel energetic, I listen to heavy metal and techno, and if I want a relaxing environment, I go for classical and musical soundtracks. I also learned to play piano on my own after many years of lessons, learning new songs in my free time. I tend to play classical pieces with a sad tones like Chopin’s nocturnes, because Continue reading

An Open Letter to Freshmen

As a senior, I’ve begun to look back at my four years at this university. This is a place that I’ve learned to love and call home. As I reflect upon my experience here, I realized that I’ve accomplished most of what I wanted to while having the time of my life. That being said, I’ve learned quite a few lessons and some things I wish I had known earlier. So to the entire new freshmen class, this is my advice to you:

Yarden at a Club Gymnastics competition
Yarden at a Club Gymnastics competition

Take care of your health: This is bar none, the most important thing in my eyes. Sleep is excruciatingly important for memory, alertness, weight, and overall wellness. One night of poor sleep can lead to days of negative effects. Eat right: nutrients fuel our body, make sure you are eating well-balanced meals, and don’t skip meals. It is detrimental to your well-being and energy levels. Exercise: Find something that works for you. Not everyone wants the typical treadmill workout and that’s completely fine! Try a BodyWise class, or get involved in a fun club that involves physical activity. If none of that is for you, try to walk to class instead of taking the bus! Not only is it good for you, but it’s also beautiful and can be a huge stress reliever after a long day.

Get involved: Whether it’s a sorority or fraternity, a club sports team, an intramural team, an academic club, community service events, a religious group like Hillel or the campus church; it doesn’t matter- just get involved in something! It is a wonderful way to meet people and gives you things outside of class to be a part of.

Grades are important: Coming from high school into Continue reading

AquaLife Club- Get Your Fish On! Plus tips for keeping your pet Betta happy and healthy

Aquarium“No pets except for a 10 gallon fish tank.” For many UConn students this was a sad thing to see when first going through your housing requirements. The thought of leaving fluffy the bunny or max the dog at home is almost too much for some students. Even for me, an animal science major, the thought of not being able to bring my collection of feathery and scaled creatures was daunting. But I wasn’t too nervous, as setting up and running different aquariums had been a hobby of mine for many years. So much so that I decided to capitalize on UConn’s pet rules by starting a club that educates students about the aquarium hobby by building its presence on campus. By October of freshman year I was submitting my constitution and other required paperwork for my new organization. Not much later AquaLife club was born with a stellar executive board made up of a few of my recently made friends and none other but Dr. Steven Zinn, the head of of the Animal Science Department, as our advisor.

Aqua-Life Club LogoIn the past semester our club has grown into a fully functioning student organization with almost 30 active members, weekly meetings, and our first fish tank project on the schedule. One of the main goals of the club I hoped to achieve when I first formed it was to install and maintain aquarium of different kinds around campus. Almost like the Animal Planet show Tanked but on a smaller scale. I thought the tanks could help with stress relief on an already hectic campus, as fish are proven to help calm humans and ease anxiety, all while increasing knowledge of the hobby. Our first tank will be a 29 gallon freshwater community tank and will be placed in the Animal Science Department.

I’m hoping AquaLife club will continue to grow and long outlive my career at UConn. It’s a great example that at UConn you can start a student organization from nothing if you have the passion for it and it is not already offered. Continue reading