SJU: Get involved by joining organizations!
“Get involved!” This is probably a repetitive phrase that upcoming St. John’s students have heard constantly during their freshmen orientation. On this big campus with many commuters and residents, people may get tired or even bored of their routine of class and homework.
As people around campus continue to advertise their clubs, organizations and events, one may wonder: Why is it such a big deal for them to reach out, and how does that relate to me?
“I think if I was more involved, it would change my college experience for better,” said sophomore Marco Rodrigues. “Maybe I’m not as much involved as I could because of my outside life, which includes working.”
Rodrigues also said that though he tries to go to sports games and become involved in the Sports Management Association Club, he thinks that he doesn’t take advantage of all the activities St. John’s University has to offer.
“I challenge every SJU student to try something new while at SJU,” said Mary Pelkowski, the associate dean of Student Engagement, while expressing the importance of getting involved on campus.
Pelkowski oversees the areas of campus activities, fraternities, sororities, leadership development, multicultural affairs, student rewards (MVP Program), service and the Student Veterans Association.
“St. John’s allows students endless opportunities, whether that is being president of the Psychology Club, being part of RedZone, finding sisterhood in a sorority, studying abroad, etc.,” said Pelkowski. “St. John’s is a land of opportunity and all you need to do is embrace it.”
Philip Dodd, the assistant director for Student Development, works with student orientation where the staff of students and administrators does their best to expose the many opportunities of campus involvement, even before the students begin their college experience.
“We count on the orientation leaders to share their own St. John’s experience with the incoming students,” said Dodd, expressing how the OLs are students involved in different areas on campus.
“We created a new session during orientation this year, called the ‘SJYou Experience,’ that revolves entirely around the variety of opportunities available to students,” Dodd said.
Junior Ruth Zotti is a sister of the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Incorporated and said being part of a sorority changed her college experience in many ways.
“I have developed leadership skills by holding an e-board position and by being an active member,” said Zotti. Besides the leadership skills, she explained how she learned to manage time.
Zotti also mentioned how she created connections, not only with her sisters in school and alumni, but from other places as well.
“I do not think that Greek life may be for everyone,” said Zotti. “It just depends on the person and what they enjoy to do and feel as they fit in.”
Zotti said that if she didn’t get involved, she would not love St. John’s as she does now. She also said that if students would like to start a club or an organization on campus, they can do it with their friends, so there’s no excuse. She gave a piece of advice to other students: “if you are not involved, I highly encourage to start now!”
Brazilian exchange student Junior Vale shared how he felt about coming to St. John’s.
“Well, for me it’s really interesting to see this kind of involvement on campus,” Vale said. “I think it translates the college experience.”
Vale said that he came from a college in Brazil that didn’t really have as many activities. The difference in culture regarding college and student engagement was quite noticeable when he arrived.
“I’m not complaining about the college experience from home,” said Vale. “However, here, you have such a big range of schedules with a lot of options dealing with music, sports, acting, etc.”
Vale said he thinks that the many campus activities are well displayed and advertised, and even so he still doesn’t know about half of the programs, clubs, organizations and opportunities – that’s how many there are.
“It’s not just about schooling,” he said. “Schooling would be just going to class and going home. Getting involved in different activities on campus translates the meaning of the true college experience.”