Serving as well as learning

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Zach Dermody
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For all three years of my college career, I have been a part of the College Transition (CT) program at the University of Iowa. Students in the program are first-semester freshmen who take one course in common along with a CT Workshop and Seminar. The workshop is a full semester long class where students meet twice a week and are provided with study materials and discussion pertaining to their course in common. The seminar is an eight-week long ordeal where the students are taught many aspects of adapting to life away at college. This program has taught me something different each year. The first year I was involved as a student participant, followed by two years as a leader.

Choosing to Serve

As a workshop leader, I provide students with study activities twice a week and serve as a resource as they adapt to college life. I get to be there for freshmen as they enter this new environment that can be both exciting and terrifying. I get to help them not only adjust to a new way of classes, but also just the struggle of moving away from home. CT leaders can be a freshman’s first friend, so just being there for them is important. I was taught so much in my year as a freshman that I was inspired to be there for others. When I became a leader, what they didn’t tell me was that I would continue learning exponentially from the students I had.

Learning More

One thing I’ve learned is how to better manage my time. Part of my responsibilities is attending the Media History and Culture lecture two times a week. On top of taking 15 semester hours myself, my schedule sees an extra seven hours in a classroom every week along with three hours of preparation for my workshop. I normally would spend my time in between classes studying at the library or Starbucks, but instead I’ve had to find another time for that.

The most important thing that I will be able to take with me to my professional career is how to manage a group of people. I want to be a manager so learning how to earn respect and develop relationships with students a year or two younger than me has helped me tremendously to prepare for my career. I have learned that the best way to approach my group of students is informally. Connect with them, ask questions, learn what makes them, them. It makes you remind yourself that this isn’t about you, it’s about them. I have approached my students and peers just like this and so far, so good.

The College Transition program has laid the groundwork for me to become an effective leader. I am thankful for all it has given me in such a short amount of time and look forward to continue learning. Programs like this help you grow as a person as well as a leader. Find something on campus where you can serve, but also learn. You may change someone’s life and the experience may also change yours.


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