When current public relations major Lauren Chapman was preparing to come to Illinois State University, she was nervous about finding her place on campus. Three years later, Lauren is heavily involved with different registered student organizations, and she has a ton of valuable advice to share on getting involved, so read on!
In August 2015, I started my freshmen year at Illinois State University. When I first arrived on campus, I was nervous that I would not enjoy my time as a college student. In high school I was pretty shy.
I was involved, but only because my friends were involved in those same groups. When I came to college I had to start fresh and I was nervous that I would not be able to. However, my first week on campus I decided to take advantage of the resources around me. The Sunday before classes, started I attended “Kick-Off ‘Que”, which is a festival that features Registered Student Organizations on campus. I was able to learn about various organizations on campus and meet a few friends. While at the festival, I met members from a gospel choir on campus known as Interdenominational Youth Choir (IYC) and was invited to a practice that would take place that week. I remember being nervous at first because I barely knew anyone on campus and I was not sure if I would fit in with this group, but that quickly went away. Once I attended the practice I knew I had found a home. My faith is important to me and I knew when I attended college I wanted to find friends with the same values as me, and this group provided me with just that.
I remember the first practice I attended clearly. I met my friend Phoebe who introduced me to others in the choir and made sure I knew that I had a family on campus as well. Within my first week, I made friends that I still have to this day! I was off to a great start in my college career.
Finding people I could depend on and get advice from helped me tremendously. It also pushed me to get involved in other things on campus. After just a few weeks on campus, I joined two more RSOs: Impact Student Ministries and NAACP. I heard about these groups through members of IYC who invited me to attend events Impact and NAACP held.
Getting involved was a great step for me to take as a freshman. It even pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I would have never guessed that I would participate in a pageant, but my freshmen year I signed up for one. I was contestant 6 in Phi Beta Sigma’s Miss Black ISU Scholarship Pageant. That year I was crowned Miss Ebony of 2016. That was truly one of the best experiences I have had in my college career. Setting a strong foundation for myself so early in my college career was beneficial for me.
When I see students that are new to Illinois State I always push them to get involved right off the bat. I believe that getting involved can make or break someone’s college experience. Getting involved can form lifelong friendships and open doors for numerous opportunities. For those of you that are nervous about your new life in college, don’t be! The adjustment will take some getting used to, but you will be fine. Get involved, don’t be afraid to make new friends and never be afraid to experience something new. Thanks for listening, #FutureRedbird!