Navigating the College Experience: Finding Connection and Growth

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Tahmina Tisha
A photo collage of the author in various student organization events.

Starting college can be both exciting and overwhelming. As a freshman, you find yourself in a new location, surrounded by new people, and immersed in a completely different environment. The transition to university life can be challenging, especially when it comes to navigating financial responsibilities, time management, and understanding the people surrounding you, all independently. Suddenly, we are expected to be adults, figuring out our way through this uncharted territory.

My college journey began during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the shift to online learning posed its own set of obstacles. While it helped me pass my classes, it hindered the opportunity to make genuine connections with fellow students. Zoom University became a barrier to the vibrant college experience I had envisioned.

However, after a whole year, I finally got a taste of the college experience I had longed for. Stepping onto campus, I was uncertain where to start. In elementary and high school, I had a consistent group of friends, but now I found myself surrounded by new faces from diverse backgrounds. One valuable lesson I learned early on was the importance of joining clubs and organizations. They became the gateway to finding like-minded individuals and forming meaningful connections. These groups provided me with a platform to network and expand my horizons. Organizations such as Touch-n-Go, Latino Pilot Association, Theta Phi Alpha, and Pearson played pivotal roles in shaping the person I am today.

Touch-N-Go, a branch of my school’s student government association, provided me with an avenue to pursue my passion for community service while connecting me with like-minded peers who shared the same drive to make a difference. Within this organization, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the craziest, funniest, and most interesting individuals. Each person's story served as a valuable life lesson, reminding me that whatever challenges I faced, I was not alone. The sense of camaraderie and shared experiences within Touch-N-Go fostered a supportive environment where we could uplift and inspire one another. Being part of this organization taught me the power of unity and the profound impact we can have when we come together with a common purpose.

I have gained so much from two additional student organizations as well. Joining the Latino Pilot Association not only allowed me to celebrate different diverse heritage but also connected me with mentors who guided me through my academic journey. And Theta Phi Alpha, a sorority dedicated to empowering women, provided me with a sisterhood that became my support system for everything. It offered opportunities for personal and professional growth, fostering leadership skills and lifelong friendships.

Working at both Pearson and the Print Shop (campus job) since freshman year provided me with invaluable real-world work experience. These opportunities allowed me to develop essential skills, while also networking with mentors, students, and influential individuals. Through these connections, I gained enrichment and a stronger sense of belonging within my field of interest. These workplaces became more than just jobs; they became second homes that shaped me personally and professionally.

To every freshman navigating the daunting world of college, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and explore the multitude of clubs and organizations available to you. Embrace the diversity and unique perspectives that your fellow students bring. Find your tribe, your support system, and your platform for growth. Remember, college is not just about textbooks and exams; it's about the connections you make, the experiences you have, and the person you become. Embrace the journey, seize opportunities, and let the college experience mold you into the best version of yourself.

While the beginning of college may seem overwhelming, joining clubs and organizations can be the key to finding connection, personal growth, and a sense of belonging. Embrace the diverse community that surrounds you, and let it enrich your college experience. Step out of your comfort zone, take risks, and allow yourself to be transformed. Your college years will become the foundation of a lifelong journey filled with knowledge, friendships, and personal achievements.

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