Find Your Home at UGA: Getting Involved on Campus

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

As a UGA student, I found my home in my classes, in the residence halls, in the dining facilities, and in the parts of home that I brought with me. Involvement, though, can be more than class, sleep, food, and the familiar. Involvement can be about finding a new home, exploring the community, and learning more about yourself… especially in college, especially here at UGA. When I think about what Student-Justin could have done to be more involved, I ask these questions.

Did I enjoy my on-campus job?
I was a shelving assistant at the Main Library (shout out to UGA Libraries; thank you for having me). I chose an on-campus job not only for the convenience and flexibility with my schedule but also for the connection to UGA staff and other student workers. Some jobs may be closely tied to a relevant department or provide great work experience related to a major. I can assuredly conclude that my student job led me toward the career path I am following. If you want to apply for an on-campus job, check Handshake for many of the opportunities offered by UGA departments. Certain units like the UGA Bookstore, Dining Services, Housing, Recreational Sports, and Transportation and Parking Services, have individual student employment pages. Consider Federal Work-Study if qualified.

Which service opportunity could I have done, other than helping all my friends with CHEM 1211?
My chosen activity was Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, now called Learning Ally. One of the best places to explore service opportunities is the Center for Leadership and Service. As you might guess, this center offers student leadership programs (like LeaderShape or The Arch Society) and service programs (like Serve UGA or Service Squad). Consider one-time volunteer opportunities like Dawg Day of Service or ongoing opportunities that partner with local non-profit organizations. My service activities exposed me to new work environments, made connections with others participating in the task, and diversified my skillset. My presentations skills are better today because of my practice carefully reading text and explaining graphs and figures. If I lead a group volunteering at the local food bank, I get to be a part of teamwork, organization, and delegation.

What if I had joined even one of our student organizations? 
I started out here with an English minor. Would I have been interested in working on a literary magazine? When I was pre-medicine, would joining a pre-health organization have helped me to stay focused on my goals? Could there have been a spontaneous club that I joined for enjoyment?  Try exploring the Involvement Fair or meet with an Involvement Ambassador. Organizations like these sometimes represent leadership opportunities and resume-building. The experience provides stories to tell in potential interviews or applications. Moreover, these organizations revolve around specific topics that can reflect interests and hobbies, and they are filled with other students who share the same interests.

Would I have had fun with Recreational Sports?
During my senior year, I took Beginning Tennis in the afternoons. Shortly after my morning English classes, I’d go to Ramsey for a workout, then hit the courts. It was a great way to spend my day, and I could have been having that much fun my whole time here by checking out Intramural Sports or any of the recreation opportunities offered on campus. One of my favorite walks in town is to circle Lake Herrick. With its new shoreline improvements, it might be worth renting a kayak for a day to explore. Adding a recreational activity to the routine of being a student offers the chance to de-stress, improve health, or have a friendly competition with others.

How many free athletic events did I miss?
Athletic events are a convenient way to connect to UGA. Some student tickets (football) cost a little $, while others have regular season home games that are free for students. Schedules, rosters, and news can all be found at Athletic events may take place at a number of facilities in the heart of campus (hello Sanford Stadium) or further out (look! a golf course). There are plenty of teams to follow throughout the year, so an entertaining afternoon or evening is never far away.

Why not go to more cultural events?
Many concerts at the Performing Arts Center are free, offered by the wind symphony, glee clubs, symphony orchestra, and chamber ensembles. All majors can join organizations like the Redcoat Marching Band, University Chorus, or take non-major music classes. The Fine Arts Theatre and Cellar Theatre host live performances of classical and modern plays. The Department of Dance presents their Concert Dance Company Series and a Young Choreographer’s Series. In addition to student and faculty displays in the School of Art, UGA is also home to the Georgia Museum of Art, which offers free admission to its exhibits.

Should I have considered Greek Life?
Explore chapters and join councils. In addition to friendships and social events, these organization focus on community service (like Habitat for Humanity) or philanthropic fundraising (like UGA Miracle). Other possible activities include tutoring elementary school students, conducting environment cleanups, organizing clothing and book collections, and volunteering at shelters. Greek Life also provides an opportunity to connect to a network both local and national with current students and alumni.

Could I have found a home in one of our diverse communities? 
Maybe my home could have been directly related to a unique identity. A home might be waiting in the resources of the Office of Institutional Diversity or in one of the student organizations within Multicultural Services and Programs. Others might want a convenient point of contact as a student veteran. Still others may benefit from services provided by the Disability Resource Center. Making a connection to these resources potentially aligns an experience at UGA with awareness, advocacy, authenticity, and social justice.

Was there a mentor waiting for me?
We are a part of the Bulldog family, which has a lot of different people willing to help make meaningful connections. The UGA Mentor Program allows students to search for alumni mentors based on industry, major, location, and more. This program transforms the potentially overwhelming process of trying to connect with mentors to a personalized networking experience that extends beyond campus walls.

Becoming involved on campus can be recreational, developmental, rewarding, and relationship-building. If I could have a conversation with Student-Justin, I would tell myself to engage 2-3 of these involvement activities and exchange some for new experiences during each of the years I spent here. I favor this method of engagement to further the chance of having fun, instilling personal growth, and maintaining a sense of belonging. Meeting people and having experiences sometimes just happens and sometimes results from deliberate choices, and where we end is unknown until we begin.

“But what does it matter? We have lived and worked together now. Things might have been different, but they could not have been better. All the same, I am afraid I shall have to be going on. We shall meet again, I expect: there must be many more things we can do together. Good-bye!” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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