Southeast Missouri State University student publication

How involvement helps build connections, skills and passions

Friday, December 9, 2022
Cameron Cai and the cast of "Carrie: The Musical" sing alongside Caroline Nitardy, who plays the role of Carrie. The scene depicts Carrie's despair due to bullying and a poor home life.
Photo by Emma Kratky

For students who come from smaller or culturally different communities, the drastic changes that happen when moving to a new town for college can be overwhelming without feeling like part of a community. This transition may require more personal application and responsibility than many students have ever experienced, and finding a community and support system is essential.

Participating in clubs and activities can be a stepping stone towards finding community in a world that may feel unfamiliar, and SEMO offers a wide range of opportunities to get involved.

One place to start looking for fun activities is the SEMO Recreation Center. They offer a wide variety of different experiences for all students to participate in, from rock climbing contests and eSports to scavenger hunts and the popular Drive-in movies, where movies are projected over the Rec Center swimming pool.

Tyler McLemore, assistant director of programs for the Rec Center, said the Rec Center offers a variety of activities outside of traditional physical sports to create a safe space for all students on campus.

These opportunities to get out and socialize with other students are beneficial to students’ social, mental and physical well-being.

“We pride ourselves in being the stress relievers on campus,” McLemore said. “We understand that [students] are bombarded with homework and papers, so we like to provide a safe space for you to relieve that stress.”

Finding a stress-free place to spend free time can help students focus on other important aspects of well-being, such as community involvement. McLemore said he has seen students come together through sports and activities and create bonds and friendships that will last decades.

Campus Life and Events Services graduate assistant Caraline Brune oversees student and community engagement. Brune works with SEMO’s Student Activities Council, and she said their main goal when planning events is to make them as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

Brune said she sees the most community being built at SEMO’s involvement fair, because students are able to find and instantly connect with others who have similar hobbies and interests.

“I’ve always been one for involvement, and I think getting involved really allows you to find that sense of community that everyone kind of longs for, that feeling of never feeling like you’re alone and you always have someone to go to,” Brune said.

Involvement is beneficial for students on both the social and collegiate level.

Brune said when she was applying for graduate school, one of the main things colleges looked for during her interview process was involvement. She said this showed them how she developed team-building and collaboration skills throughout her time in college.

Senior business administration major Elliot Siekmann is very involved at SEMO. He is president of the Sigma Nu fraternity and the sexual assault awareness organization Iota Chi, vice president of the Greek honors organization Order of Omega, and participates in multiple other organizations such as the Strategic Investment Club, Finance and Economics Club, Sport Management Society and the Barbecue Club.

Siekmann said he was encouraged to get more involved by one of the older members of his fraternity when he was a freshman. He said this has allowed him to make great connections across campus and helped him find a love for leadership.

In addition to building connections and leadership skills, club and activity involvement can also be inspiring and rewarding to both students and others in the community.

“I just feel like there's kind of something that just clicks inside of you once you start to get involved,” Siekmann said. “It makes you realize that there’s more than just yourself, and helping the community — whether it's on campus here or outside of campus — is really important.”

Siekmann emphasized the importance of making sure involvement in activities comes from a place of passion and enjoyment, not just to add another line to a résumé.

“My advice would definitely be to get out of your comfort zone, make new friends, make new connections, and even if that's just introducing yourself or signing up to be a part of something, but just getting out of your comfort zone during your four years here can change your life drastically,” Siekmann said.