By Jose Munoz, 2020-2021 SCS Advising Leader:
As a new undergraduate, some level of difficulty will be noticed adjusting to life on campus socially. With Illinois having an abundance of social and professional student organizations, finding a place on campus is not a grueling task. Part of being an Illini is being able to create an identity for yourself at such a large university. This can be done by creating or joining one of the many RSO’s (registered student organizations) on campus.
Undergraduates can easily find the communities they relate to the most, or want to learn about the most, via the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations (OIIR) website. The OIIR is a great resource for connecting with people who have similar backgrounds or interests as you. I have benefited from using the OIIR site by discovering the diversity and inclusion of second eight-week courses and using their event calendar. Another great resource would be the campus labs website that has a list of organizations on campus, which can be found here by using the search bar. Thanks to these websites I discovered the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and La Casa, which both helped me settle into a welcoming Latino community on campus.
Social networking can also be done in professional development organizations. When joining professional Greek houses, or organizations such as SHPE, it’s important to keep in mind the alumni you could meet. Workshops, retreats, and fundraisers were all opportunities SHPE and La Casa hosted or mentioned to me. At these events, I was able to speak with faculty and alumni to develop a list of skills such as leadership, public speaking, conflict resolution, and event planning. Skills that I have used to assist new Illini, high school friends, and impress members at the country club where I work.
Joining a community on campus can be a great stress reliever as well. Throughout my last two years, I felt there were points where I was stuck quicksand. Joining SHPE, La Casa, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) helped make my free time at Illinois more enjoyable. My social life gave me the energy I needed to excel academically. I knew at the end of a long day that there was a list of people I could fall back on.
Finding a comfortable place for myself on campus has helped me develop social and professional skills I will continue to use. With a community as welcoming as the Illini, it would be counterproductive to not take advantage of the opportunities provided by its organizations. The communities you participate in will allow you to grow as a person and excel as a student.