SFU has had to deal with the stereotype of being a “commuter” campus for years–it comes with the territory of being a University on a mountain. But take a look at the many programs offered by SFU’s Student Services departments and the countless students that partake as either volunteers or participants, and you would be hardpressed to say that SFU has no community. As a volunteer on campus, Jen Clune has been able to lay down some roots, thanks to the valuable connections and relationships she has built just by being involved. Now, just finishing up her last year studies, she wants to make sure other students open their eyes to all the opportunities for growth that exist on campus.
“Commuting up to SFU, doing my classes and heading straight home was my life. I was in my 2nd year when I realized I missed being involved because as a high school student I was very involved in my school community. A friend of mine had attended Orientation and enjoyed it and I thought ‘why not? I’ll get involved’. That was it–joining orientation as an Orientation Leader changed my entire experience at SFU. I went from just being a student who went to class to being an active member in the community and having tons of friends up here. I found instead of just coming up here, going to class and heading home, I was meeting friends for lunch, having coffee and really engaging and having fun on campus.
When I joined Orientation, I wasn’t sure what I was going to experience. I knew that it would be a good opportunity to volunteer on campus and it would look good on my resume. I knew that I was bored on campus and wanted something to do. But the reason why I came back the following year, the reason I wanted to be a team leader, and the reason I eventually ended up working for the program as the Orientation Assistant was because of the people. I all of a sudden felt like I had this community, and I felt connected to the school in a very real way. I felt responsible for my experience and for the experience of others on campus and I wanted to contribute to that and make it more meaningful.
Aside from that, the more I get involved on campus, the higher my grades have gotten. I find that I’m a busy active person and when I have a lot on the go I tend to be more motivated. It makes it easier to come to school when you know that you have other things going on because it’s hard when it’s the middle of winter and its raining–that’s not a great motivator. But when you know that you have friendly faces in the hallways and a meeting after school or you are going to meet someone for coffee, those things contribute to the way you view your school. Contrary to what others may say, I think that there is an active community here (at SFU). I think that it is vibrant, and it’s diverse and there are clubs of every type that you can think of. There are amazing opportunities to develop leadership skills, to explore interests and really expand your horizons and they are all eager for people to get involved, are looking for volunteers and hoping for more members and all you have to do is take that first step. Once you join one club, you will see the network of social connections and other opportunities that blossoms.
I remember one person I met in my 2nd year as a Team Leader with Orientation. He’d gotten lost and separated from his group so I was waiting for him. He told me how nervous he was because he had just moved here from Africa and he was the only person in his village who was going to be living in Canada and he didn’t know what to expect. He told me that being there at Orientation on the first day, he had no idea that there would be so many people who would welcome him and make him feel like he belonged. He said that SFU could be his new village and I think that’s it–that’s the reason I get involved in a nutshell, to know that there are other people besides yourself. Being a part of the larger picture makes it more meaningful, not to mention its fun. I have a lot of lifelong friends from being involved here.”