Reach Out to Your Campus Community

Taking initiative can be rewarding for students who want to get the most of their university experience

A student in the Cedar building of the Surrey campus pondering an activities board. (Kristen Frier)

My journey to engaging with KPU’s on-campus community was not an easy one. I was filled with anxiety about meeting new people and always worried about how I would look to others if I reached out.

Would they accept me? Would someone tell me that I didn’t belong there? Maybe it was better if I just kept my head down, went to class, and then back home.

I had family and work responsibilities and figured that I just didn’t have the time for extracurriculars. I knew that I wanted more out of my education, and I knew that I wasn’t the only one to feel that way, but I wasn’t sure how to get more engaged at KPU.

I started out slowly, by attending the events held in the courtyard on the Surrey campus. Always full of students coming and going from class, these events were a great opportunity to get involved without committing to a specific group or timeframe.

The Kwantlen Student Association and its clubs regularly provide food, access to volunteer opportunities, and activities to students, especially during Welcome Week. I would take flyers and sign up for email blasts at events like this to stay in touch with what was going on.

From there, I began to recognize faces. Other students started to recognize me. I read message boards for on-campus activities that took place between my morning and evening classes. I was already on campus and had paid for parking, so I started attending free lectures from guest speakers that gave me extra credit for class. I was able to use these lectures in my own presentations and essays, allowing me to conduct research in a way that was more meaningful to me.

University engagement is important for your resume, scholarship or grad school applications, mental health, and sense of belonging. You can use the experience of joining a club or a team, participating in field school, or actively working to improve student life in other aspects of your life as well.

It was important for me to find out where I fit in and to help others who were struggling to find their place. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who had difficulty navigating some of KPU’s systems or didn’t know where to go to get help. Engaging with others allowed me to not only learn where to go for support, but also to pass that information on to the other students I met.  

Getting more involved on campus helped me build a solid network that I still use to this day. I know that networking and engagement can seem overwhelming, so start out where you are comfortable and go from there. It really can make for a better university experience and set you up for success after you graduate.  

Most academic circles are small. The professionals you are quoting in your essays may one day be your peers, so start interacting with them now by volunteering and speaking at conferences or working in your department as an assistant. Someone that you meet there could help you get a job, be your reference, or point you in the right direction for your research. You never know who you will meet, so show up and be kind!