We are getting to that that time in the semester when school work starts to pile up, and you may be feeling like you hardly have time to breathe between studying and just trying to meet your basic needs. While it may seem risky to put more on your plate to be successful academically, I can speak from my own experience that finding and embracing something that you love on this campus can truly heighten your University experience. With the endless sea of midterms and assignments bogging us down, we could all use a little inspiration.
Using myself as an example, at the start of my second year I had felt incredibly overwhelmed by University life. I had been taking courses that disinterested me to meet prerequisites for various programs, and didn’t feel like I served much of a purpose on campus. I was blending into the walls, drifting, and my GPA and perspective on learning were suffering.
I was looking to make my second year something I could feel proud of. I wanted to be a meaningful contributor to the campus community, and I needed an outlet. I was passionate, but wasn’t sure about what I was passionate about- until I came across SIHA (the Students’ International Health Association).
Presently I can say, without a doubt, that SIHA has been the single most meaningful and rewarding experience of my undergraduate career at the U of A. Though being heavily involved in a student group has been a major commitment, my passion for SIHA has balanced out the (sometimes relentless) stresses of school.
When I first came across SIHA, I was immediately attracted to the organization’s humility, drive for improvement, and application of critical thought. To this day, the phrase “ethical global citizenship” still makes me swoon. I wanted to be a part of something that cared deeply about an issue (in this case, health concerns that affect marginalized populations), and work with a group of highly dedicated and like-minded individuals.
After applying, and subsequently being a part of the international team travelling to Tanzania for the following two summers, as well as becoming a part of the executive, I’ve gained a revitalized motivation to learn, and keep learning.
Because of my time with SIHA, I feel as though I’m “making a difference,” and not necessarily because of the reasons that you might think. While the individual projects that we undertake are important, I feel as though I’m able to make a difference because of the thought behind the group’s operations. The way that SIHA constantly pursues new knowledge and works to understand the context of global health issues in order to create sustainable projects reminds me that there is always room for growth. Working through partnerships and engaging in the reciprocal exchange of ideas with people and organizations who are dedicated to health promotion, community development, and social change has taught me that there are endless sources of inspiration out there, and different people with similar values to co-learn with.
Two years ago I might have felt as though I was beginning to drift without purpose on campus, but now I feel like I have gained a practical and in-depth understanding about social determinants of health and considerations of a globalizing world, and a renewed purpose and drive for education.. I hold great value for being a part of a student group as it has helped to pull me back from what had been a close-minded and negative outlook on school. Learning outside the classroom has allowed me to feel more engaged and motivated in my classes, and I now often find myself in search of more learning opportunities in areas that interest me. Who knows, maybe one day I might even end up pursuing a career in global health…
I’ve shared all of this just to say that if you are feeling like your scales are unbalanced, and the workload of school is weighing you down, take a look around and let this campus inspire you. You may be surprised by what you find, or where you end up. Hit the comments and let us know what your campus inspirations are!
About the Author
My name is Kiera and I’m a fourth year Biological Sciences student with an English minor, trying to keep life interesting. I like to consider myself a glass-half-full type, and am most at peace spending quality time with loved ones (with a little wine and cheese on hand). When I’m not trying to balance my student group with studying, I am testing out different hobbies, slowly working towards becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
I am drawn to creativity and adventure, which there seems to be an abundance of amongst the U of A’s bright students. I hope to shed light on some of the inspirational individual stories that have resulted from unique campus opportunities, and also hope to encourage other students to tap into one of the many meaningful learning opportunities that are available outside of the classroom. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the U of A’s stories that make our campus community so rich with experience and opportunity.