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There's More to College Life Than Classes-Get Involved!

By Robin L. House

Editor's Introduction: Robin is a newly elected board member of NABS. She is also the President of the Missouri Association of Blind Students and is very involved in her affiliate in Missouri. Here she writes about many different and important kinds of student involvement.

The life of an average college student is filled with writing papers, reading books, researching information, and attending classes. College would be pretty dull if this was it. In addition to the demands of classes, many students are sustaining relationships, preparing meals and housekeeping duties, dealing with family obligations, and other personal responsibilities. It can be both a fun and stressful period in a person's life. There is pressure to get good grades, cooperate with new people, and manage the many freedoms that accompany college life. And if this all wasn't enough, it changes from semester to semester. Transitions and changes come with the territory. A college student must be able to move outside their comfort zone.

I learned a long time ago the importance of being involved in extracurricular school activities. At first it was difficult for me because I was quiet and shy. I learned that if you are quiet you won't get anything you want or need. I worked on becoming more outgoing and assertive. My friends, playing soccer, and editing the school newspaper got me through high school. In college I had a paid job as the copy editor of the campus newspaper. I had internships with radio station KWMU and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. No matter what you are doing right now, you need to take a look at what you could be doing on your college campus for yourself and the betterment of the institution.

There are many reasons to become involved on your college campus in any way that you see best for you. It may be with a fraternity or sorority. Perhaps it might be athletics, student government, or an internship. What ever you choose it will give you good experiences, which you can use on your resume. It will also help you meet other people. And when the stress levels intensify, it will give you the support you need to hang in there until the end-graduation.

How to find what is right for you? First, what are your interests and strengths? What field of study are you interested in pursuing? Them. Talk to other students in your classes, dorm or in the library. Check with college professors for opportunities. Check out the campus newspaper. The possibilities are almost endless. If you look you will find something that is right for you. (Disclaimer: Try not to overextend yourself. Balance is the key here.)

Working for the Federation cause with other blind students is another way to get involved. For example, in St. Louis at the University of Missouri St. Louis a group of us were members of the Missouri Association of Blind Students. One of our members wanted to get the Coke machines labeled in Braille. He could not make any progress with the University administration. We devised a plan to make the labels ourselves. The University agreed and bought the supplies, breakfast, and lunch. A group of six of us labeled over 700 labels. Now all the machines on both campuses are labeled in Braille.

Then we held a scholarship seminar where we invited other students and distributed NFB of Missouri and NFB National scholarship applications in November. During Disability Awareness Week we put together a display on Blindness. There was a simulation of finding information using a cassette recorder. The Society of the Blind brought goggles which simulated different eye conditions. We distributed cards with the Braille alphabet. We worked together to give students the right to select and train readers of their choosing. We are not finished. There is more work to do on our campus. Our goal is to make it better for current and future blind students.

It is important for students to become active participants on their college campuses. Whether you pledge a fraternity or sorority, find an internship, get a job or begin working with other blind students, you will help your campus to be a better place. Keep those grades up and learn as much as you can. A higher education is an avenue for you to achieve your goals and dreams. As you can see, there's more to college life than classes. Get involved!

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