The importance of engagement

By: Matthew McKenzie

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- How many stories have you heard from a celebrity, politician or just a loved one, about how they fell in love with something they did in college and it turned into a career or a passion? College is the perfect opportunity for students to get involved in all the things that they are interested in, as well as experiment with a lot of new things.

Niagara provides a wide variety of clubs and organizations that function as a way for like-minded people to meet and work together both on and off campus. These range from political groups such as the College Democrats and Republicans, environmental groups such as the Biology club and NU Cares, and journalism groups such as the Niagara Wire, among many more.

Mati Ortiz, the director of Campus activities, sums up the benefits of on-campus engagement.

“I am a believer in opportunity in hands-on experiences. Getting involved on campus [in co-curricular activities], [getting] involved in a club or organization provides hands-on experience with different things,” Ortiz said. “It is a great skill developer. Some basic skills such as time management, organization, team building, collaboration, cooperation and communication. A lot of times when you are in those environments with clubs having a meeting, or you are a club leader and you oversee something, you enhance your skills or develop new ones in that area. Research over the years has shown that there is a correlation between involvement and academic success.”

Tom Lowe, the director of IMPACT/ReNU Niagara, describes how important off-campus engagement is.

“Getting involved with organizations off campus is a resume builder, more opportunities to prepare you for carers,” Lowe said. “I did it, my career was built off of my volunteer experience, not my major. I was an english major … I got involved with doing the Relay For Life and from there, fell in love with serving peace. That’s what got me into the job I am in today. It is the opportunity to hone skills in real-life scenarios, to experiment with different things that you can’t do in the classroom or on campus, to open your eyes to diversity in the community and exposure to different kinds of people and build social skills as well as career skills.”

Lowe asks that everyone be on the lookout for future events that the IMPACT office is planning for October, which is Disability Awareness Month. The events are sure to be excellent opportunities for students to get involved with an exceptional cause.

I can attest to everything that Tom Lowe and Mati Ortiz have to say about involvement, both on and off campus. It has led me to meet some of my closest friends, discover and learn about things that have become some of my passions, improve skills and develop ones I might not have yet. Developing my public speaking ability, growing more patient and realistic, and being able to really use my creativity are just some of the skills I have been able to approve upon.

If you are ever looking for something, it might be in a place you have not expected. Do some research, go to a meeting and reach out to someone. Clubs and organizations can introduce you to a whole new world. It could mean finding your future!

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