The Advantages of Being Involved in Student Organizations on Campus
to be or not to be: my involvement with asian american student association
By Jennifer Truong, University of Oklahoma
As a freshman in college, I questioned whether I wanted to join any organizations. College is a whole new experience and I was wondering what I could dedicate my time to. School was a priority, of course, but what about student life? I was already at a disadvantage than most incoming freshmen because I was living off-campus. I didn’t have the camaraderie of dorm life to secure the promise of new friends. Feeling a little lost when it came to meeting people, I went to a meeting for an organization I knew I would fit right in: the Asian American Student Association (AASA).
My Humble Beginnings
I started off as just a member of AASA but was unsure if I wanted to stay involved. A friend of mine who was freshman representative for AASA told me that they were trying to come up with t-shirt designs. I had experience designing t-shirts for student council in high school so I saw this as an opportunity to be more involved by taking advantage of my skills. Unfortunately, I had no idea that they had a press secretary on their executive board whose job it was to design things! Nonetheless, I submitted my t-shirt design only to be denied, but just the chance to use my skills to contribute to the organization made me happy. It ended up working out for me because the press secretary stepped down the next year and told me to go for the position!
Being an Officer
In high school, I was editor of the Junior Engineering Technical Society, vice-president of Key Club and secretary/treasurer of Eco Club, so I always liked the idea of having a title. However, there was a big difference between being an officer in a high school club and in a college student organization. In high school, that’s all it was: a title. Besides speaking at club meetings, I didn’t feel like I even put in that much more work than members did. Basically, I just knew what was going on before members did, then I told them about it. It was minimal work. All of the work usually fell on our teachers who were the advisors for our clubs and we were the faces that represented the student body. Don’t think this is the case in college! In college, student organizations are almost completely student-run. Students are completely the brain and brawn behind all the mechanisms and gears that keep any student organization operating. Although it’s definitely more work, there is no doubt in my mind that was worth it. I had to attend weekly exec board meetings to discuss upcoming events and general meetings. It taught me to honor my commitment and follow through when I accept responsibility for a role. Even though the meetings were generally fun, it could still be hard to make myself go to every single meeting. Despite that, I would always be glad that I did. It would remind me why I took on the position in the first place, to voice my opinion and make the organization better.
My Job as Press Secretary
Specifically, as Press Secretary, it was my job to design flyers and posters for our events and be in charge of all publicity. I chose this position because I had previous experience with Photoshop that originated from designing my own Myspace and Xanga layouts. When I started designing layouts, I never figured that the hobby would amount to anything. I was just a girl in middle school who wanted to make my blogs look cool and different. At the time, I sincerely thought that everyone else was doing it too. Lo and behold, my hobby turned into valuable skills. Throughout my two years as press secretary, I designed several flyers, posters and t-shirts. With every one, I learned how to do new things in Photoshop. As ideas came in, I would have to do my own research and figure out how to make it happen in Photoshop. It was constant learning process and it was always rewarding when I was finally able to produce the images I wanted to.
The Benefits I Reaped
Being Press Secretary has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. I got so much more out of it than I thought I would. I honestly went in thinking that I was offering my services, but I received just as much, if not more, than what I put in. I was taught to be a leader. It gave me the opportunities to attend leadership conferences where I learned about myself as an individual and that in turn, helped me become a more effective leader. Last but not least, I made friends. Being involved forced me to meet people and interact with them on a regular basis. A lot of these interactions turned into true friendships that are still kept even though I’m no longer an AASA officer.