Penn State probably won’t like this, but I really think I got more out of my extracurricular activities than I did in any of my classes. I chose to attend Penn State Lehigh Valley mainly for financial reasons. Being a local campus, it meant I could commute from home which allowed me to save on the expenses of housing and food. When you’re paying for school on your own, the possibility of saving half your expenses is very attractive. The downside of course was that during my first two years of college I was miserable.
Because I had to find a way to come up with money for tuition and books I found that I was going to class, going to work, doing homework and repeating it all the next day. I never really got a chance to connect with anyone on campus or with the university as a whole. Sure there were campus events but I was always busy doing homework, in class or at work. The fall of my junior year everything changed.
I don’t remember how but I was asked to be a new student orientation leader and a few of us were on campus early to help set up. A few students who were changing assignment to the University Park campus were around visiting with friends and as we were decorating it came up in conversation that Penn State Lehigh Valley needed another representative for Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG) meetings that were held at University Park. I had no idea what CCSG was at the time, but attending that meeting completely changed my feelings toward Penn State and college in general.
Before attending I’d never visited the University Park campus, nor had I really done much on my own campus back in the Lehigh Valley, but seeing all of the great things that students were working on around the commonwealth opened my eyes and really inspired me. I had so much energy and enthusiasm that I found time in my schedule and joined the Student Government Association (SGA). That’s when I found I’d set foot on a slippery slope. I went from being a campus delegate to CCSG during the Fall semester to being the SGA Parliamentarian the following Spring semester to being the SGA President the next two consecutive years. Yes, for those of you keeping track, I was an undergrad for five years.
Getting involved was absolutely the best thing I ever did during my time at Penn State. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I managed to get involved with numerous incredible organizations, meet amazing people and learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. My fifth year at Penn State (super senior year?) I got involved with the Penn State Lehigh Valley Alumni Society and starting July 1, I’ll be the new President. Looking back, I still find it pretty incredible how someone like me who loathed his time in college during the first two years could end up being one of its biggest supporters, even years after graduation.