* This post is edited from an original entry at The Student Affairs Hub.
There are many types of events; workshops, concerts, speakers, and everything else that happens as well as the small moments on campus that can transform a student’s life. I remember one such moment when I was an undergraduate student, and upon recent reflection, I can see how it led me to become a more engaged and confident student and ultimately led me to my current, fulfilling career.
As a young, introverted undergraduate college student at a mid-sized public university, I wasn’t sure where to start to meet new people on campus, nor did I think I was particularly capable of doing so. I had my interests (video games, television, movies) but didn’t have people to connect with about them. I eventually stumbled upon a video gaming club that met frequently to hang out and play new and classic games. This provided a venue to have a social network of fellow students as well as some dedicated fun during the week.
What this club did for me (which I wasn’t fully aware of at the time) is that it helped me feel like I belonged at my institution, and it helped me feel more confident to pursue more involvements, like going to leadership development programs and digging in with all that had to offer as well as applying to be (and becoming) a Resident Assistant. Once I knew I could put myself out there and have a positive result, anything was within my reach. I still had a lot of areas of growth but it was a big moment for me to be outgoing at that time in my life, and it really helped to have that supportive group of friends. While we eventually drifted apart, I know that all the folks from that club came into my life for a reason.
I encourage you as student affairs professionals to nudge your students to get out and get involved with something. Even if it is a small club based on one of their niche interests, it could just be the first step on a journey that will help them grow throughout their time on campus. Even better yet, follow through after your orientation and welcome programs to make sure students actually go out to the clubs’ events or that the clubs themselves are engaging their new prospective members. Student affairs professionals, or even fellow students, can help facilitate transformative experiences for their students or peers respectively. We all just need to be engaged ourselves in the whole process to capitalize on the potential we have for helping each other grow.