Tag Archives: involvement

Advice from a Graduating Senior

Hello readers! I’m Nikki Vergakes, a senior at Salem State University. I won’t be able to say that for a long time anymore, however. I’m moving on to the “real world”. I was in a similar position four years ago when I was graduating from high school and moving on to SSU. My first year was definitely very different from my senior year. Since then, I’ve become way more involved in student organizations and have turned my two friends from freshman year into many friends that I hope to stay close with after graduation. Through some life lessons learned the hard way, I’ve accumulated many pieces of advice for undergraduates navigating the tricky waters of college.

18034243_951209681649235_3394085137952661454_n.jpgI’ve been the one who has been writing these blog post for the past three years while simultaneously working with the most inspiring people, buffering my digital and social media skills, and most importantly seeing the direct positive effects of student involvement on campus. I was passed down this job after my freshman year from a graduating senior I knew from PRSSA (the organization that I’ve been President of this year) and am forever grateful to her! But enough with the sappy stuff, here’s some advice  for you that I’ve gathered through my years at Salem State.

1. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Okay, this is totally an Oscar Wilde quote, but it’s also my life motto. Sorry, Oscar. I began with this mantra the minute I emailed the past SSU Cross Country coach about joining the team that was here. After I had talked to a girl (who has since become one of my closest friends) at orientation and looked up the women’s team 5K times, I decided to do what I said I’d never do: NCAA cross country. This ended up being one of the best decisions of my college career. The moral of the story is: don’t knock anything until you try it, especially in college. You’d be surprised at how many extra hours are in a day when you’re not in class from 7:30 AM – 2PM daily!

2. Treat Yo Self

Once you’ve tried a bunch of things and have a productive life, it can be hard to find time for yourself. A lot of my college career was spent working on programs and initiatives to help fellow students. It can be rewarding, but draining too. So don’t forget to enjoy that “me time”. Take yourself to Chipotle. Get an ice cream from upper north. Try Candlelit Yoga at Gassett. Take a walk on the bike path. Better yet, take a nap! If you’re burnt out, you can’t be your true authentic self.

3. You can always take it a step further

In college there are a lot of deadlines that pile up at once. You also may have internships, on-campus jobs and EBoard positions. With all of these things to balance, it may seem easier to only put half of your effort into something and pass in a final assignment that wasn’t done to the best of your ability. This may just be from my writing background, but something should always be double-checked. Have a friend read your paper or article over for clearness and readability. Double-count the math problem. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!


4. Impulsivity is key

Getting stuck in humdrum routines leads to a lackluster life. You’ll get bored with your major, your job and more. Even with the craziness of college life, this is possible. If your friend asks you to go to Treadwells and you’ve been studying for five days straight, don’t say you’re too busy. Take a study break! Some of the fondest memories I have are from last-minute plans.

5. Don’t wish it away

It’s ok to turn down plans to regroup or if you’re just not feeling it. Don’t wish the days and hours away. Don’t just simply be somewhere and not be present. If you wish the days away, it’ll be four years later and you’re going to be confused as to how the black gown got on you. You’ll be thinking– wasn’t it just freshmen year? Enjoy the small and big things, and be in the moment for all of them.

6. Every challenge is a learning experience

In the moment, yes, little and big inconveniences can really be a downer. They can cloud your judgement when planning an event, they can hold you up from study time, or force you to miss a meeting or event. The show must go on, however. In that moment, you must think fast and either figure out a solution or enlist help. We can all think of a time that this has happened to us. Did it work out? With every inconvenience, we learn a lot. It’s also something that you will most definitely be asked during future job interviews!

17498650_10155902823915410_6046008454909681130_n.jpg8. Take pictures and document everything!

This is self explanatory. There’s nothing I love more than plugging in my external hard drive and looking at old pictures. I have a folder for every year of college. Save your snaps. Archive your memories. Document these moments, because you’ll never experience college again after graduation, and you’ll want to be able to remember every minute.

It’s been an honor to serve SSU and it’s been quite the four years. They’ve definitely been unforgettable. I’ll be reliving the memories on my hard drive very soon!


Diversity and Inclusion a Major Focus for Student Leaders

On Saturday, September 10, representatives from every student organization gathered in the Ellison Campus Center to be equipped with the information and skills to make them the best student leaders they can be in hopes of making this a successful school year. The program began with an introduction, then went into breakout sessions for each different position. Every executive board involves varying concerns and roles, so different training for each position is key. After lunch, there were two breakout sessions. The day ended with ice cream and a discussion on diversity, which tied into the themes of the day.


The “Preferred Name Policy” breakout session focused on a new development in University Law: the Preferred Name Policy. Students may have their name on the class roster, canvas, door decks, and more that they prefer to be called. Why would a student prefer another name? There are many reasons. Some of those presented by Julia Golden-Battle, Assistant Director and LGBTQ Liaison of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, included: gender identity, unsafe circumstances, and international students seeking to use their American name. Julia then delved into a discussion on gender identity and pronouns so that student leaders can set a progressive example for the students they lead on campus, as well as the campus community as a whole. Learn more about the preferred name policy here.


Image courtesy of transstudent.org

To wrap up the day, we ended with diversity and some ice cream. Rebecca Comage, Director of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs introduced herself and what her office does. Through their professional, graduate, and undergraduate staff, they educate the greater university community about the different populations found here on campus and throughout the world.

According to the school website, the office…

“…strives to lead Salem State University in sustaining an active campus community that embraces difference, and values the significant contributions of all its members. Through examining the intersections of identity, our community is challenged to think critically about issues relevant to diversity and social justice. By creating strategies that support historically marginalized student populations in achieving their goals, we cultivate an environment where diversity, academic excellence, and holistic student success are inseparable.”

After a discussion on why this is key to the SSU community, the student groups discussed how they could involve more diversity in their programming, and why it’s important for them.

College is a big change, and an even bigger community. For some students, it’s a much bigger community than their high school. Joining a club or organization can help students find a group that they feel that they belong to within this vast environment. They can find their school of fish in the big ocean of college. The more inclusive said group is, the more students may feel that they belong. That’s why the emphasis on diversity during this student leadership training was so important.

How will you include diversity in your group’s programming? If you already do, how will you emphasize it more? Why do you think it’s important?


Greek Like Resource Roundup

With Greek recruitment coming up, greek life’s ever-growing presence on campus is bigger than ever before. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran, just a year in, or are interested in joining, having resources available to you is very helpful. There are a lot of websites out there that offer many things specifically in the interest of Greek Life. Some websites just offer comic relief, some provide important information and resources, but all of them provide a sense of community for your community. The list of Greek online resources below is sure to help:

1. HerCampus


The logo says “a collegiate’s guide to life”, however HerCampus is an online magazine that has a massive Greek life listing of stories. Many collegiate that submit to the magazine. Many articles offer a survey of topics related to Greek Life.

2. Total Sorority Move


You probably already have heard of this one, I see the sororities retweet them all the time. I would describe this resource as “comedic support.”  You can also submit what you think is a “total sorority move” to “The Wall.”

3. Total Frat Move


In the name of equality, there’s Total Frat Move for fraternities.

4. Greek Life Scholarship Listing

As you know, you can always look for help from your fellow brothers and sisters from other schools:

  1. Phi Sigma Sigma
  2. Theta Phi Alpha
  3. Sigma Alpha Epsilon
  4. http://alphasigmaphi.org/

The Importance of Student Involvement in the “Real World”: A Student’s Take

Even in high school orientation, one of the things the speakers always stressed was to get involved. Getting involved in a group or as a leader can help you become a leader in the workforce some day. If you’re on an E-Board of a student organization, have an on-campus job, or even just a member of an organization, you may have seen the similarities between the group culture and the culture of an office. You and your peers have all been working, problem solving, planning, and learning together. Through working and problem solving with your peers to plan an event, you’ve been strengthening the skills that employers look for without even knowing! According to an article in Campus Activities Programming, here are the top qualities that employers look for:

  1. Ability to work in a team structure
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  3. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  4. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Proficiency with software systems
  8. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  9. Ability to sell or influence others


If any of those characteristics sound like things you’re strong in, you’re probably involved in student activities. If you’ve ever had to find a new DJ for a dance last minute, you’ve acquired the ability to make decisions and solve problems. If you came up with  a budget for the school year, you’ve acquired the ability to organize, plan, and prioritize work. If you’ve ever sat through a meeting, you’ve acquired the ability to obtain and process information.

As a student currently involved in student activities and looking for a job in a very competitive field after graduation, I’ve come to take all of these tips to heart. There’s a bold connection between the characteristics needed in the job force today, and the characteristics gained through student involvement. It’s not hard to miss the similarities! Every time you show up to an event three hours early to set up, and leave two hours late to break down, those are hours spent building skills you’ll use in your future job. I know how competitive the market is, and I feel relieved knowing that my involvement in PRSSA, Cross Country, The Office Of Student Involvement And Activities, and WMWM Salem will help me check off those characteristics above and call them my own. Your resume can’t show your character. However, through being involved on campus you not only gain experience but you also gain character. Employers look for results – you can show them posters you’ve designed, turnout of events, tickets sold, and new organization members numbers. Those numbers are cold, hard proof that you’ve gained awesome skills through student involvement.


  1. Here are some tips to get ahead in the job search I’ve learned:
  2. Get Involved! It’s self explanatory, take a chance!
  3. Be Organized Keep all of your posters, numbers of attendees of events, articles published of the events, and how many members you recruited.
  4. Share Your Results Post it everywhere – LinkedIn, eportfolios, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your website, Pinterest, and your resume!

UNITE Wrap-Up #SSUOrangeCrushWeek

Thursday, October 23 2014 was Salem State University’s 4th anniversary of becoming a university. SSU celebrates in style with a day-long celebration called “U-NITE.” U-NITE is a great day to not only bring our campus community closer and get them involved, but it’s also a great way to increase viking pride!

Upgrading to a university is a big step for the school itself, students, and faculty. This step deserves a day-long celebration. Wouldn’t you want to celebrate furthering your status and being able to help students further themselves and their futures? I would want to celebrate every day, not just one day.

Let’s recap all the fun we had!


Airbrushed hats are soooo in now…


This whoopie pie has some serious Viking Pride!


How long can you ride the bull for?



Can you hit BlackJack?


Poker Night!

Stay tuned to see who won the #SSUOrangeCrushWeek Instagram contest! Make sure to follow @SSUECC on twitter and @ssuactivites on Instagram.