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.
Last fall, I was assigned to Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic where the population was primarily homeless. Now, I work with tree farmers at Prides Corner Farms in Lebanon. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that allows volunteers to become more socially aware by interacting with populations that they are not usually exposed to. Before I joined Community Outreach, I was involved in many scientific research labs and pursuing a lab research career. Now that I have found my passion in community-based volunteering, I want to continue a similar line of work in the future, collaborating closely with communities to establish and improve preventative healthcare measures. Next year I will be serving as CHSC’s program director, where I am motivated by the possibility of improving the program and creating more meaningful experiences for everyone involved – just as it has done for me in the past.
Volunteering as a part of my college experience helped me discover a new passion – this is why extracurriculars are so crucial to your college experience. After graduation, there will be less opportunities to explore potential passions and careers. Start completing your college experience now and literally change your life!