As the enrollment numbers for MSU seem to be increasing without any end in sight, it may be getting difficult to find your niche on campus. We are constantly being told to “get involved,” but it seems that many times this is where the advice ends. I, for one, didn’t find extracurricular communities and activities that excited me until I was a junior. It becomes especially difficult to find a community after switching majors and departments.
Our campus has a lot to offer, particularly in the area of community and involvement. Although the increasing enrollment causes some growing pains and anxieties, MSU is working to expand possibilities for student leadership. However, I hear many students who believe they don’t belong in these communities. I write this to those of you who are selling yourselves short and deserve to take part in some of these amazing programs.
One program I wish to highlight, applaud and recommend is the Leadership Institute. At the end of January they provided me with the experience of a lifetime: to meet my inspiration, Paul Farmer, Ph.D. I would have never believed that he would come to MSU. Yet, the Leadership Institute made this experience possible through their team’s dedication and hard work. These members were offered the opportunity to meet Farmer beforehand, and he knew who they were. I wanted to slam my head against the wall for not being part of the Leadership Institute during my college career.
I remember previously considering this opportunity, but I thought that there was no way an obnoxious, distracting and somewhat priority-overloaded student like me would make the cut. My self-doubts kept me from entering this recognition-worthy team. After I slammed my head out of self-hatred, a friend said to me “I wish I could get involved in something like this. But, I can’t find anything that would both work toward something I care about and take me. And now it’s too late.” This lead to a moment of clarity for me, if I have these self-doubts and so do those close to me, I can only assume how many people are out there on campus who think the same.
The Leadership Institute provides rewarding experience that can also act as resume experiences. Reading the brochure (although informative) is an inkling of insight compared to seeing this team in action. So, on MSU’s 125th Anniversary I wanted to dedicate an article to promoting such a worthy program and expressing to all students that you are enough. You don’t have to be the most outspoken and outgoing person in the room. Especially in the realm of leadership, as some (if not most) of the best and most accomplished leaders are those who are silent and lead by example.
There is another program starting called the Changemakers, providing more opportunities to get involved with MSU at-large. I can honestly say that my experience at MSU will leave me with nostalgia due to the communities I have been involved in. So, I write to you urging you to take the leap and try the Leadership Institute and other campus leadership organizations. The self growth it encourages and manifests is nothing to take light of and not all communities provide this as robustly. If I could go back to my freshman or sophomore year, I know that I would force myself to join this community, as it is the one regret I may have.