Upperclassmen reflect on, urge campus involvement to new ’Canes

Upperclassmen reflect on, urge campus involvement to new ’Canes

By Nailah Edmead

Upperclassmen reflect on, urge campus involvement to new ’Canes

By Nailah Edmead
Seasoned ’Canes offer their advice on navigating campus life and community as new and returning students seek out involvement opportunities.

As the buzz of a new school year fills the air, incoming students face a plethora of opportunities to discover outlets of involvement on campus. From busy first-week tabling to orientation events dedicated to showcasing student organizations, the decision to get involved is swarmed with Engage links, flyers, and applications.  

While opportunities to join organizations are seemingly endless, choosing a community to engage with can be overwhelming. Upperclassmen share their own campus life experiences, proving themselves vulnerable to the same sentiment. 

Dunia Mejia, a senior studying health science on a pre-med track at the University of Miami, details the initial obstacles that came before her presidency of Lucha Latina, a club dedicated to Latina empowerment. 

“It can be a nerve-wracking experience to view hundreds of clubs and approach with questions and interest,” said Meija, reflecting on her first-year experience. “Because of the pandemic, making friendships and finding community was difficult for me. Finally, I reached out to my roommate who was attending events—how do I even join a club?” 

Meija was directed to Student Activities and Student Organizations, or SASO. There, she searched for clubs that spoke to her interests and identity. After discovering Lucha Latina and instantly resonating with the club’s mission and goals, she extended her interests via a Direct Message on Instagram—expressing her desire to be more involved on campus. While not considering herself one to put herself out there, Mejia remains grateful that she opened herself up for the opportunity. 

“Lucha Latina has provided me with a community I would have otherwise never enjoyed. I’ve gained the confidence to speak in front of my peers and invaluable leadership skills. As president, there is a special perspective gained from how to manage a group, as well as insight on the lives of other students,” concluded Meija. 

Discovering campus initiative at the intersection of personal interest and community proves itself a shared experience among student leaders here at the University.  

Sterling Cole, a junior studying political science, details how his own career goals and personal identity fostered his involvement and leadership on campus. As president of Above the Bar, an organization committed to bridging the gap between multicultural students and law school matriculation, Cole emphasizes passion when choosing an organization. 

“My first year, I was self-conscious of my involvement. It’s easy to compare yourself to other students, but I realized that everyone is on their own path. Genuine interest should guide your campus initiative,” said Cole. 

After experiencing a virtual Canefest, Cole cites how valuable his resident assistant was to him in his decision to get involved. He urges students to reach out to the community around them. 

“Your peers are in the same boat as you. Attend meetings together, make note of the screens on campus, and be aware that there are people who are willing to guide you. Your professors, your older classmates, your advisors—they are often involved in and aware of organizations that may suit you,” added Cole. 

Students who maintain leadership positions in their organizations are further rewarded with enriching experiences, such as Student Organization Leadership Development Series. The conference this past Sunday dedicated itself to sharing and developing skills essential to student organization management. The summit boasted hundreds of student organization presidents, whose attendance places their organizations in good standing.  

To learn more about SOLD, visit their webpage.