Sunday, June 28, 2015

What's there to do here?: Intern Involvement on Grounds

Go on any admissions tour and you'll be sure to hear about any number of our 800+ CIOs on Grounds. Tater tot club? Check. Harry Potter club? Check. Salsa dancing, blindfold rubix cube, baking, photography, sailing, singing, debate? Check, check, and check. With almost a thousand clubs to choose from, you're sure to find something you enjoy. Here are a few activities that the summer interns do throughout the year:


Cavalier Daily: When I came into UVa I knew I wanted to get involved with the student newspaper, the Cavalier Daily. My first semester I wrote for the Arts & Entertainment section, covering concerts, speakers, and cultural events on and off grounds. I ended up writing so much that I became editor that January, a position that lasted for two semesters. I learned so much being on the CD staff and it was a wonderful way for me to meet people from all classes, schools, and majors just a couple of weeks into the school year. Whether you're interested in writing, editing, graphics, or advertising, there's certainly a place on staff for you!

Madison House (Cavs in the Classroom): Last semester I joined Madison House in a program called "Cavs in the Classroom." I went once a week to an elementary school in town and tutored a first grade student in reading and math problems. This was always the highlight of my week as my student was always enthusiastic about our lessons and it was nice to work on homework that was a lot easier than what I was doing in my own classes!

University Guide Service: After taking a course called The History of Mr. Jefferson's University, I wanted to learn even more about UVa and share that history with others. I tried out for the Guide Service in the spring and spent a semester in training - learning everything from the number of libraries on Grounds to Thomas Jefferson's mother's maiden name. By the end of the semester I was giving both Admissions and Historic tours to prospective students and other visitors. Because of Guides, I learned of this internship and I've been able to continue my tours throughout the summer before studying abroad.


After signing up for at least 20 student organizations at the Student Activities Fair my first year, I tried out many different activities and going into my third year at UVa, I have finally narrowed it down to a handful of activities.  I am a Support Officer for UVa's Honor Committee and spend my time advising, investigating, and representing both students who have been referred to the Honor Committee for an alleged Honor offense and those who have reported possible Honor offenses.  Because UVa's Honor Committee is entirely run and governed by students, Support Officers do the case processing and have a hands-on role in the Honor process.

In addition to Honor, I am in Aletheia Christian Fellowship Group here at the University.  Aletheia Christian Fellowship meets for worship once a week and then there are smaller Bible study groups that meet weekly as well. This fall I will begin leading on of the Bible study groups and am looking forward to meeting and leading incoming first years!

As a way to get involved with the Charlottesville community and see people outside of the age confines of 18-22 year olds, I volunteer through Madison House (UVa's umbrella volunteer organization) for Cavs in the Classroom where I go to a local elementary school once a week and volunteer as a teacher's aid for an hour.

Theses are just a few of the organizations I am involved in at UVa, but they give you a glimpse into the breadth of different organizations offered to students here at UVa!


Black Voices: This is the only gospel choir on Grounds. BV has been around for almost 40 years and has remained stronger than ever. I joined this group my 1st year here at UVa and they're like a second family to me. We sing at various churches in the Charlottesville community as well as hold concerts on Grounds. This group was created to sing about Christian love both within the choir and to everyone we encounter. Practice is every Thursday from 7-9pm during the school year.

Early Visions: This is a mentoring program that occurs every Spring. 1st through 4th year students can apply to be a Big Sister or Brother to children (around the ages of 5-11) from the local Charlottesville Boys' and Girls' Club. The UVa students take their Little Brothers and Sisters to the Fralin Museum of Art (a museum located on UVa grounds). We tour the museum together and meet in Fayerweather Hall (the Art History building) and create art imitating what we just saw in the gallery. It is a great program and so much fun!


Cavalier Marching Band: The Cavalier Marching Band (CMB) is one of the major musical ensembles you can choose to join here at UVA. We have over 300 students in the band, representing almost every major within the school (our biggest single major is actually engineering). Each week, we learn a new show that we perform at the football games—you can highlights from last season here. We play two shows at every home football game (the halftime show and a pregame show), and we also travel to one or two away games each year (but we normally don’t perform a field show there). This year, we will be traveling to New York City to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! The camaraderie that is built between the students during band camp (which takes place the week before classes start) is unparalleled—what other organization will allow you to enter college with over 300 new friends? The CMB has defined my college experience so far, and I look forward to continuing playing with them!

Engineering Students Without Borders: Engineering Students Without Borders (ESWB) is an organization dedicated to combining engineering skills with service-based projects. In prior years, ESWB projects have dealt with problems in all fields of engineering, from implementing a biogas digester in Charlottesville to working with the UVA Hospital to design medical equipment. There are also several projects that take place abroad, including an annual trip to Nicaragua. In keeping with student self-governance, ESWB encourages students to start their own project if they perceive an unsolved problem, be it in the community of Charlottesville or on a broader scale. Students can then form a team of fellow ESWB students and work towards solving this goal. ESWB also has several workshops and conferences throughout the year for students to observe other projects as well as learn about the importance of servitude in engineering.

Project DAEDALUS (formerly known as Xplore Engineering): Project DAEDALUS (Discovering All Engineering Disciplines And Learning Under Students) seeks to assist first year students in determining which engineering major is right for them. It is meant to supplement the ENGR 1620 courses already in place by allowing students to utilize the engineering design skills learned in the classroom on hands-on activities in the different majors. By experiencing broad-based, upperclassmen led seminars in the majors, students will have an easier time finding their passions for a major while invoking their inner creativity and curiosity. This club for me is especially close to home, since I am one of the founding members! It just goes to show that if you have an idea for a club or organization that doesn’t already exist yet, we encourage you to start it! It’s part of this concept of student self-governance that we value so highly here at UVA—the idea that you should take charge of your education and make it the most that it could possibly be!


During my time at the University, extracurricular activities have played a large role in my development, providing me with countless social opportunities, valuable experience, and numerous skills. 

My primary involvement at UVa is with Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity (APO).  Predicated on the principles of leadership, friendship, and service, together we perform over 2000 hours of service every semester in the Charlottesville community, and have opportunities for service every day of the week. Our largest, typically construction-based projects take place on Saturday mornings and can be anything from building a chicken coop, a boardwalk, or a greenhouse. Additionally, we put on a large, semester-long projects twice a year that require extensive planning and fundraising. APO has provided me with the sense of community I was searching for at UVa; in addition to service work, we also have a variety of social events a strong sense of community. 

Additionally, I serve on the executive board of UVa’s College Council, the governing body of the College of Arts and Sciences. With a budget of over $80,000 the council allocates funding for various student groups and events around Grounds, as well as planning and executing our own events with the intention of representing the needs and interests of College students.

Finally, I have served as a site leader with the Alternative Spring Break organization (ASB). Run entirely by students, ASB plans and executes 30-40 service trips throughout the United States and beyond for University students each March. As I participant my first year, I spent a week volunteering at Mammoth Cave National Park (in Kentucky), ultimately deciding to plan and lead my own trip to Pt. Reyes, CA the following year. Not only has ASB taught me valuable leadership and planning skills, but it’s also a blast and has afforded me long lasting friendships (camping without showering for a week will do that.) 


Over the course of my time at UVA, I’ve become involved in three main organizations. Firstly, I am a Program Director for Madison House, a student-volunteering organization with sites and programs all throughout Charlottesville and the surrounding area, working with the program at the Boys and Girls Club. I work on organizing volunteers and assisting the Boys and Girls Club with their after-school programs. 

I am also involved in One in Four, which is an all-male peer advocacy group dealing with sexual assault prevention, bystander intervention, and how to help survivors. We present to students in halls, groups, and teams at UVA and we have also presented to high schools around the country in combination with working with various organizations with similar causes.

Finally, I am also a member of a fraternity in the UVA Greek System. About 30% of the UVA student body is affiliated with a Greek organization. UVA also operates on a system of Deferred Recruitment, which means that students cannot rush until their second semester at UVA. This method of “rush” helps students become involved in the UVA and Charlottesville community outside of the Greek system, while also providing time to figure out if “rush” is something in which they would like to participate. 


Here at UVA, I have two passions that I have been able to easily express in the Contracted Independent Organizations (CIOs) that I am involved in. 

The first passion that I have is working with first-generation/low-income/minority high school students and encouraging them to apply and attend premier universities, like UVA. I am a first-generation college student and a QuestBridge College Match Scholarship recipient and I work closely with various low-income high schools giving presentations showing my encouragement and support. I am also expressing this passion through my internship with the Department of Admissions by working in the Outreach Office. In this office, I work closely with Dean Gregory and Miss Cathy Ames on special projects, mailings, internet chats, and various other programs to make UVA a more inclusive and diverse institution of higher education.

My second passion that I am able to express here at UVA is bridging the gap between the LGBTQ+ and the  Christian communities. I am a gay Christian and I am advocate for inclusion, equality, and anti-discrimination in both communities. I am a member of Chi Alpha Christian Ministry and express my religious beliefs through study, worship, and service and I am also a member of the Queer Student Union here at UVA. Through QSU, I helped organize the spring Drag Bingo event which was very exciting and it was amazing to see the large LGBTQ+ community here at UVA and its allies. 

Whatever your passions are, YOU can express them through the activities that you participate in. We have over 850 different ones, so there is definitely a place for you here at UVA! 

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