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
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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