April 2011 Archives

So Long

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This week was filled with a lot of "last times" for me.  I put on my very last event as a Penn State student/intern working with Student Activities.  I handed in one of my very last assignments for classes.  I'm working on my very last reports.  Some may say that this is great news!  And you'd be right, but it's a bittersweet experience.  I am very sad to leave this new family that I've found.  I'm sad to leave Happy Valley.

Penn State sees its fair share of students.  A new batch shows up at the front gates every year to replace the 10,000 students that just recently graduated, so I'm sure my school (my alma mater, oh goodness!) will be in good hands.  Penn State is a unique school in that every student - all 80,000+ of us - has different experiences while here.  This is because Penn State offers so much!  No matter what you want to do academic-wise or within an extra-curricular, intramural, or athletic activity, there are many, many options right at your fingertips.  I believe my own experiences were only further enhanced by the activities and organizations I had the honor and privilege to participate in.  I'm truly blessed to have been able to call this place my home, these people my friends and family, and to one day call Penn State my alma mater!

We Are...!

Student Organization Roundtable

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Student Leaders, you are all invited to participate in the Spring 2011 Student Organization Roundtable put on by the Office of Union & Student Activities.  This Roundtable will focus on the skills necessary to better yourself and your group or organization for the next academic year.  Please feel free to open up this opportunity to all of your group or organization members including, but not limited to, your executive board and general membership.  At this time, the agenda is tentative as we would like your input!  The Roundtable will take place on Monday, April 11 @ 6PM in 106 HUB.  Free Food will be provided!  For questions and feedback, contact Melinda Stellaccio: mms5165@psu.edu.  Please send us your feedback and join us on April 11.

After the Roundtable, please feel free to comment Melinda or the Union & Student Activities Facebook Page about the experience, and you could even write the next Student Activities Blog!  We love to hear students' feedback in hopes that they can play a vital role in the betterment of the Student Activities Offices and student involvement at Penn State!

Student Involvement

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Are you a student leader?  Is it difficult to recruit new members to your club or organization? What do you think needs to change in order for your recruitment and retention to change?

Or are you a student that wants to be involved but doesn't know where to start?  What would help get you involved?

Or are you completely apathetic about your time here at Penn State?  Why?  How can we change that?

I am a senior at The Pennsylvania State University, and from day one I told myself I'll try anything and everything, do as much as I can, soak it all in because once it's over, it's over.  And now I'm about to graduate... time really does fly.  But since I started at Penn State up to this point, there isn't much I regret NOT doing.  I was in organizations.  I was on a search committee to find a new Penn State employee.  I had three internships.  I worked closely with faculty and staff on many committees.  I worked for the University over the summer.  I was on a THON committee, and I froze my butt off canning for my organization.  I was part of student government.  I gave campus tours.  I was nominated for Homecoming Court.  I met some amazing faculty, staff, other students, guest speakers, and alumni.  I worked closely with people who truly influenced and enriched my life.  I was able to do all this because I took advantage of the resources available to me. 

So why aren't all 40,000 University Park students taking advantage of the same things I did?  Why doesn't everyone want to be more involved in the community that is Penn State and surrounding State College and Centre County?  Tell me here.  Tell me what you're looking for that isn't already offered.  Tell me why you don't think extracurricular activities matter (THEY DO!!!!).  Tell me all about it.  And maybe, together, we can fix that.

Canning Weekend #3

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From Pittsburg to Philadelphia.  From Williamsport to Harrisburg.  As far as New York and New Jersey.  And Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland.  We THON.

Penn State students just recently got back to campus after a month-long Winter Break.  They packed their bags, drove through the snow, and began another semester.  Two weeks later, they repacked their bags, drove back through the snow, and canned for the Penn State Dance Marathon.  Why?  FTK.

I couldn't tell you how many students go out into the cold to can outside businesses or on the corners of streets.  I couldn't tell you exactly how much money is raised in one weekend.  But I can tell you that each group of students, each organization, has the time of their life on these little weekend excursions.  I took a trip with an organization to Carlisle, PA, and we all stayed with our THON Family, and we had an amazing time!  We raised a good deal of money, spent time with a family we truly and unconditionally love, and we spent time with each other which - between classes, meetings, family, and other responsibilities - can be really hard to do.

Despite the extremely cold temperatures and a few head colds, the weekend was a success.  My organization even picked THON dancers right before we left our THON family.  What a great way to end a great weekend!  The sun was out the whole time, and it never fails that I hear a very motivating story from a selfless supporter.  For these reasons, and for so many others, we can and we continue to THON.

So if you went canning this weekend, take this opportunity to thank yourself and those who went along with you.  If you dropped money into a can this weekend, we all thank you, too.  If you did not help with THON this weekend but have in the past or will in the future, we still greatly appreciate your continued support.  No matter how you contribute to THON - whether through monetary donations, volunteering, or spreading the word - every person involved is important from captains and overalls to dancers and moralers, from supporters and volunteers to organization members and committee members, and from Penn State faculty and staff to THON families and Penn State families. 

There is a reason THON is such a success year after year.  The reason is the people, the students, the kids.

Congratulations to everyone on a successful weekend and a continued success with THON!

Student Organization Roundtable

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I've come to the conclusion that food brings about a successful event.  That, and great conversation.  Last night, approximately twenty students and staff members got together to discuss student activities, their own clubs and organizations, and the betterment of what Penn State has to offer. 

The event was eye-opening in a lot of aspects, mainly this being the first event I have ever put on.  There are two things that scared me the most about this event.  1) I was afraid no one would come.  Once the RSVPs flowed in, though, my anxiety turned to 2) They are coming for a purpose, and what if my purpose and their purpose don't match up.  I don't have all the answers; how can I?  What kind of resource or service can I really be for these students?  While I was more than a little nervous, I do believe it went as best as I could have hoped for.

The conversation took turns from SOS to UPAC, accountability to keeping momentum.  All of the discussion was enthusiastic and well-received.  I enjoyed the event and look forward to participating again in any capacity that I can.

How To Get Students Involved

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Recently, I have done a little bit of a study of other universities to find out how their own student activities offices work.  I have found insight in a lot of ways and places where we can improve.  The one question I went in search of an answer for, however, is still unanswered: how do university organizations get students to participate?

I have come to accept that no one can force another person to do anything they don't want to do; this is a terrible thing for anyone planning, rather attempting to plan, an event.  What is the basis to which you rate a good event?  Attendees!  Without bodies in the room, it doesn't matter how awesome your event was going to be or supposed to; it's not a success unless people/students attend.

 

So, my question is this: How do we combat this apathy, this complete lack of interest in what goes on at Penn State?  Is there an answer?  Is there this big bad secret no one is letting me in on? 

 

Someone, anyone, tell me this mysterious answer.  Is it food?  Done; any event I throw will now have food.  Is it entertainment?  You've got it; bring on the clowns.  I will be sure to comply with whatever the answer may be... I just need to know it first.

Students Engaging Students

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Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the NEPA Leadership Conference in Tannersville, PA.  The annual conference focuses on leadership and team-building activities for the Commonwealth campuses located in the Northeastern part of the Commonwealth.  Those campuses include Penn State Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Wilkes-Barre, and Worthington Scranton.  Those students who attended were first-year Penn State students looking to further their leadership involvement at their campuses as well as throughout the Commonwealth and University Park. 

 

Among the other attendees was the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments, who taught the young student leaders parliamentary procedure and basic Robert's Rules of Order, and Students Engaging Students, who interacted with all of the students and got them to work cohesively with each other.

 

SES is an organization at University Park designed to better other organizations and student leaders.  They work in the form of interactive, exciting Workshops, informative Presentations, and specific one-on-one Consultations that can all be easily accessed and/or researched at http://www.sa.psu.edu/usa/studentactivities/ses/programs.shtml.

Student Leadership Practices Inventory: Take the 360° Challenge

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If there is one thing that you should do this semester, it is to participate in the STUDENT LEADERSHIP PRACTICES INVENTORY.  Last night, I joined a group of fellow student leaders to learn about leadership styles, our own particular organizations, and ourselves.  The two hours spent with the knowledgeable facilitators and each other marked a turning point in my ideals about how to work in groups, committees, and organizations.

The program focuses on the five practices of exemplary leadership: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart.   The program is based on the book by Kouzes & Posner called The Student Leadership Challenge.. 

The survey process and group activities are eye-opening and creative.  Not only will you get to see how you have ranked yourself regarding your leadership qualities, but your peers can take the survey about you, too; this way you can see how others perceive your abilities and talents. 

Two dates remain to participate in this worthwhile program: Wednesday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 6.  If you haven't signed up for either of the two remaining dates, you can sign up at http://www.sa.psu.edu/usa/studentactivities/leadership/SLPI.shtml or contact leadership@sa.psu.edu for more information.  I strongly recommend participating in the STUDENT LEADERSHIP PRACTICES INVENTORY for your own benefit and to further enhance your organization or group's leadership abilities. 

Take the 360° Challenge!  And tell your fellow committee/organization/group members; it is a great program to get involved in as a group so you can build and grow together!

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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