Organizations encourage students to get involved

Published: August 24, 2016
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For students at Auburn, one of the best ways to make the university feel like home is by joining a student organization. With more than 500 student-run organizations on campus, there are numerous ways to get involved and make a difference on Auburn's campus, all while building strong friendships and connections with peers.

Corey Edwards, director of student involvement, said participation in organizations allows students to engage with the campus community and develop a sense of self during college.

"For many students, establishing a connection with other students may play a role in a student's likelihood of being retained at Auburn," Edwards said. "Organizations provide students with a social outlet, a support group and an opportunity to develop their own identity while being exposed to new cultures and ideas."

Auburn has nine categories of organizations: academic and professional, cultural, fine arts, Greek, honors, religious and spiritual, service and philanthropy, special interests and sports and recreation.  But, with so many organizations, the task of choosing one may seem daunting. The Office of Student Involvement helps students with that choice through a group of Involvement Ambassadors. The ambassadors hold one-on-one consultations to assist students in discovering which opportunities best fit their personal interests. The ambassadors encourage involvement among students because of the lifelong benefits.

"Involvement allows students to develop leadership skills, time management and other critical transferable skills that are oftentimes not taught in a classroom. Many organizations provide hands-on experiences for students to apply their knowledge obtained in the classroom to real world situations. Ultimately, the development of these skills may set apart involved student graduates from their peers," Edwards said.

Along with the consultations, students can take part in Back to School Organizations Week, or O-Week. Held at the beginning of each academic year, O-Week is a time when representatives from more than 200 organizations line the Haley Concourse with tables and information about their organization. It provides the perfect time to learn about what each group offers, ask questions and become a member.

Senior Julie Tubbs, president of Involvement Ambassadors, encourages students to attend O-Week and ask questions about getting involved.

"The benefits are endless. When picking an organization, my advice is to join something that you love. Involvement should be something that you look forward to, not just something to put on your resume," she said.

AUinvolve, an online database that is home to all student organizations, is another resource for students looking to get involved. Through the database, students can find contact information, upcoming events and an interest inventory to search for organizations. Many organizations have their applications available on AUinvolve. Students can also download Student Organizations guide within the Auburn Guides mobile app.

Senior Kayla Warner is president of Black Student Union, an organization she got involved with during her freshman year at Auburn.

"Student involvement is truly living out the Auburn Creed," Warner said. "Moreover, it is belief 'in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.' I've arguably learned more about myself and the world through interacting with my peers. Through serving my fellow students, I have learned that we all have differences that are all valuable and important in the Auburn Family."

Warner's biggest advice to incoming students: "Follow your heart, explore, step out of your comfort zone."

She said if she hadn't gone to her first Black Student Union meeting on a whim her freshman year, she wouldn't be president of the organization today.

Political science senior Trey Fields also got involved on campus his freshman year, just two weeks into classes. He joined Freshman Leadership Programs and was part of the Freshman Forum group, which is associated with Student Government Association. He has continued his involvement with SGA throughout his college career and also joined the Honors Congress and the Auburn University College Democrats.

His involvement, he said, has defined his college experience.

"The closest friends that I've made during my three years at Auburn thus far have been those that I've had the honor of working alongside in various organizations," Fields said. "Involvement affords you opportunities that you'd never have inside the classroom. That's why I was drawn to it and that's why I continue to stick with it."

One of the biggest benefits of his involvement is the relationships he has formed.

"When you get to work alongside such incredible people who have the same passions as you, you're bound to make some lifelong friends," Fields said. "It's also great experience for the future. Regardless of what your major or your future career may be, getting your nose out of a textbook every once and a while and helping plan an event, execute an idea or raise money for charity – whatever it is that you fancy – is such a great learning experience and it looks fantastic on a resume and is something that you can always talk about in an interview in the future."