Tag Archives: student leadership

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!

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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!

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Crafting the perfect transition packet

The success of a student organization in an academic year heavily relies on the transition between old and new e-board members. A transition can be different for every organization, however, it is vital that one occurs to begin with. Some students have different traditions such as  old and new e-board dinners, retreats, contracts, meetings, and transition packets. Today, we will be highlighting the importance of one of the transition methods: transition packets. These are packets  distributed from an old e-board member to the new one, including all of the important information regarding each position.

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Think of it as passing the baton. Picture courtesy of Wild Apricot Blog.

Luckily, every year there is an e-board transition meeting hosted by SGA. It’s only mandatory that one current e-board member be there, but all old and new members are welcome to come! They explain what being a student leader entails. They highlight the importance of attending mandatory SGA meetings, representing student leaders well, and how imperative it is to get in touch with your predecessor to talk about your new position. So, when constructing a transition packet, what exactly should be in it?

 

What to put in a transition packet:

1. When and where your e-board and general body meetings are

2. Passwords to any social media accounts you have

3. Chapter information

If you’re a chapter of a greater organization, put any information regarding that. What is the greater organization? What’s their contact information? How do dues work? Do they have national conferences?

4. Role-specific information

What exactly does the person in role they’re entering do? What are their responsibilities? Who do they report to?

5. Attendance information

What’s the policy of attendance for e-board members? Who do you tell if you can’t make it? What are the consequences of missed meetings/events?

6. SGA Information

How many SGA meetings are there this year? What do they usually cover? Also, include that if your organization is not represented your budget will be cut 5%. Who is the current SGA e-board and how do you contact them? How do you go about reserving rooms, making flyers, depositing funds, etc?

7. Contracts and constitution

Do you have e-board member contracts that bind them to their responsibilities? If they do not have a copy of the constitution already, please attach a copy of it in there, too.

 

Transitioning can be complicated, but creating a plan is essential to keeping a successful student organization running smoothly! Be sure to open the lines of communication between your old e-board and the new. We can’t wait to see what the new year will bring!

 

Post-Conference Inspiration: Now What?

If you’re a student leader, you probably know that thrilling feeling of inspiration pumping through your veins after an inspirational conference or talk. However, this fire doesn’t burn for long after the conference. It’s important to jot down your ideas before you dive back into the not as fun non-conference world. This short-lived inspiration can follow an event such as the one this weekend, the Student Leadership Conference. This weekend will be full of inspirational speakers that include students, business owners, professors, and staff. These speakers will discuss ways to be a better leader, a self-starter, and how to Leave Your Mark Through Change.

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The feeling of inspiration after conferences such as these is comparable to a volcano. After, I just want to be a volcano that erupts positive change in my community. I feel like I want to do everything at once. Ideas flow like lava.

Not every idea can be brought to life at once, however we must use turn this lava flow into igneous rocks of change. Big rocks were sediments at one time, and all great ideas were mere outlines at times. Here’s some tips on what to do with post-conference inspiration.

  1. Write down all of your ideas.
  2. Talk to your fellow e-board members about your ideas
  3. Mark down perspective dates in your calendar for dates
  4. Meet with e-board members and come up with details for your ideas
  5. Eventually start taking steps to make the idea happen!

What’s a great event that you planned as a student org that was a result of #PostConferenceInspiration?

How To Have A Smooth Eboard Transition

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It’s out with the old, and in with the new. It’s that time of year to pass the baton to a new executive board of your group/club.

First of all, congratulations on being a student leader! Leadership roles can help further any career path you choose to pursue. If you’re graduation, congratulations and good luck! If you’re stepping into a new position, we hope your new position is fun and challenging. However, the transition of leaving an old position and stepping into a new one can be a tough transition. Here are some tips to ensure that your successor can be just as successful as you were:

1. Map It Out For Them

Give the new officers a written-down guide of some sort, if you can. A face-to-face meeting is good if they take notes, however, it’s better for them to have a written resource for them to refer to, instead of them constantly asking you questions. If you can take the time to write a handbook for that position, that would be ideal. However, printing out a copy of your constitution with that includes position duties is also a way to do this.

2. Make Them Feel Welcome

A mixer event for the old and new e-board is a great way to break the ice. A group that knows each other better is more likely to be more productive. Get together with the new and old officers, whether it be a dinner, bowling, a movie, or just a get-together. Don’t have any talk of work, just have fun and get to know each other.

3. Tie Loose Ends

If there was a crisis in your club during the year, try your best to handle it before a fresh set of hands take over. It’s easier for a new e-board to be successful with a fresh start. If you can’t, maybe there’s a returning member on the e-board that knows how to handle it.

4. Be A Resource

Whether you’re graduating, or moving onto a new position or club, or just focusing on school, still be a resource to our successor. Let them know that they can contact you with any questions.

 Who’s excited for the next school year? It’s going to be a great year. What are some of your big plans?

Also, we want to hear your ideas for the new ellison campus center! Tweet us your ideas with the hashtag #ellisoncouldbe

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SSU Groups Do More Than Get Social

Groups and Organizations did more than get social this year, they actively participated in social change! Social Activism was a major theme on campus this year for groups and clubs. Putting on fun events and parties are just one way that student organizations help out on campus. Giving back to the community is another! Who said living simply so others can enjoy the fun isn’t a party in itself?

According to ideas.ted.com – a blog supplement of TED talks that focuses on social change and ideas that need to be spread – we’re at a point of crisis in our country. Everyday citizens need to be more educated on the issues of today, and how to advocate for them. Those with “clout” a nowadays are the only ones that know how to do this. Basically, those with the power are making all the changes. However, Student Organizations this year worked on teaching the SSU student body about how to enact social change, by leading my example.

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Student Orgs had no trouble defining social change, however here is a definition for us that need a little clarity:

Social change refers to any significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and cultural values and norms. By “significant” alteration, sociologists mean changes yielding profound social consequences.

Ideas.ted.com advises its readers to understand five simple concepts before they go about enacting social change. Our students groups and organizations this year sure did know these five concepts this year when they did their social activist projects. They seamlessly combined fun and social change. Our students groups and organizations mastered these five concepts: Understand the system, Identify your objective, sharpen your strategy, tell a story, and practice.

After our student leaders grasped those concepts, they were ready to enact social change. However, what is an example of social change? Here is what SSU and Student leaders were up to this year:

Social Activism

sources:

http://ideas.ted.com/5-basic-skills-of-power/

http://socialmarketing.blogs.com/r_craiig_lefebvres_social/2008/12/

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/sciences/sociology/social-change-and-movements/social-change-defined