It was my second day of freshman year. Classes had not yet begun and I ventured out of my dorm alone to attend Sunday Night Student Mass at St. Vincent DePaul Parish . I remember sitting in the pew by myself for the first time. I had always gone to church with my parents, but now it was time for me to independently live out my faith as an adult.
After mass ended, a student announced that any freshmen interested in attending a first-year student retreat should meet at the back of the church. I had attended a few retreats in high school and enjoyed them, so I decided to stay. And boy am I glad that I did! There was a small group of students gathered to learn more information and I introduced myself to one of the girls standing there.
“I’m Olivia,” I said nervously. “No way, I’m Olivia too!” she smiled. I laughed and I asked her if she was going to go on the retreat. She nodded and so we both signed up. We continued to talk as we walked out of church together, finding out that we both wanted to be high school English teachers too. A few weeks later we were reunited on the retreat and became inseparable ever since!
Flash-forward to today and we are still best friends. We lived together for two years (sophomore year in Centennial Hall and junior year in Sheffield Square ) and have more similarities than we can count. But we also have our differences and we use these to challenge each other to become even better people. The only thing better than being friends with Olivia is being able to introduce ourselves as “Olivia and Olivia” wherever we go because we are almost always together.
It’s crazy to think that I would have never met Olivia if I didn’t put myself out there in attending mass alone that second day of freshman year. Sometimes you want to do things that others you know may not want to do and in doing that you can meet new people that you have something (or in my case, almost everything) in common with. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things, alone or otherwise!
It's crazy to think it's college application season already, isn't it? I cannot believe that I applied to DePaul four years ago! So much has changed, but my love for DePaul has not.
Both my mom and my oldest sister graduated from DePaul, but that does not mean that it was the school that I always thought I would be attending. To be honest, I originally imagined myself at a school much further from my hometown of La Grange, IL. However, health complications that came up during my high school career made that choice a bit unrealistic, so I applied to a few universities much closer to home: Loyola, Marquette, Michigan State, Indiana, and of course DePaul.
After that visit, I started thinking more and more about DePaul. I knew that I wanted to major in Secondary English Education and DePaul would be the perfect link to Chicago Public Schools, giving me a much more diverse experience than my own high school gave me. That is the beauty of attending a city school—you are surrounded by amazing, worldly opportunities rather than being isolated in a small college town. There is absolutely never a dull moment! Whether you are interested in art, music, sports, comedy, or food, there is something for you to do each and every day with the U-Pass at your fingertips.
After my first quarter at DePaul, I knew I made the right decision. Not only was I living in one of the best cities in the world, but I was also surrounded by people who wanted to make a difference. If you don’t already know, DePaul is a Vincentian community that prides itself on its commitment to service and social justice by asking the question: “What Must Be Done? ” This was not something that swayed me in my decision to apply because I was not fully aware of its meaning, but it certainly made me feel a lot more fulfilled when I arrived and embraced the mission of the University.
So, what must be done? Your application to DePaul University of course! You’ll never know if you don’t apply!
Last week I wrote about getting involved, but this week I wanted to specifically dive into what it’s like to be an Eboard member. For those of you who don’t know, Eboard is short for Executive Board. This sounds super fancy, but basically, it just means that these members are elected to lead a campus organization.
In the spring of my sophomore year, I was elected to serve on Alpha Phi Omega ’s Eboard as the pledge educator. As the pledge educator, I led weekly pledge classes to help new members get to know the ins and outs of the fraternity. I really enjoyed this role because it allowed me to connect with our newest “bros” and get some practice leading a classroom, something I always appreciate as a future high school teacher.
But something I did not think about when I ran for the position was the other part of being on an Eboard—working as a group. I am not going to lie; being on Eboard was quite stressful at times. Trying to coordinate six different schedules to coordinate meeting times, plan events, and keep our 60+ members happy sometimes felt as painful as a group project (and who likes those!?).
But learning how to collaborate effectively with my peers in a new way was extremely beneficial in allowing me to learn more about myself and in preparing for the professional world. Here are three things I learned as an Eboard member:
1. Communication really is key: I know that is literally so cliché, but there were many times when our Eboard was a mess because people went totally MIA (including our VP of Communications ironically!). If you are having a busy week, that’s ok. Just let the rest of Eboard know so that they can cover for you.
2. Some things are just out of your control: Our Eboard had a lot of lofty goals at the beginning of our term, but some of them were just impossible to achieve due to things outside of our control. Planning takes time and we often were running out of it due to the speed of the quarter system. We also struggled with the commitment and energy level of our members at times. We could only control what we put in, not necessarily what they chose to take out, which is important to remember when leading a group.
3. No matter what, leadership is truly rewarding: Whether things were running smoothly or there were many bumps along the way, knowing that I was leading an organization in achieving their goals was exciting! I loved leading the class, chapter meetings, and events because it allowed me to appreciate the Eboard before us and after us as well as all the leaders in my life.
As a first-year student, you will hear over and over again about the importance of getting involved on campus. For me, this was a lot of pressure. I was just getting adjusted to living on my own (with a randomly assigned roommate) and excelling in college courses. How could I possibly add anything else into my busy schedule? Looking back, I laugh at the thought of me thinking my life was busy at this point…just you wait freshman year self! But in all seriousness, the first year of college is crazy and it can feel stressful to think about how you want to get involved.
With that being said, what I wish someone would have told me then is that getting involved does not necessarily mean joining a billion clubs. Yes, when you go to the Involvement Fair on the Quad you will probably feel pressured into putting your email on at least 20 different pieces of paper, especially if you want free things. But that isn’t necessarily the key to getting involved.
Being a part of the campus comes in a variety of different forms and can take part at different stages of your college career. This how “getting involved” went down for me:
Freshman Year: I chose not to join any clubs or organizations. But despite what some of you may think after reading that sentence, I was still involved on campus. I attended events sponsored by DePaul Activities Board, I participated in group fitness classes at the Ray, and I embraced the activities within the residence hall.
Sophomore Year: I worked in the New Student and Family Engagement program as a Chicago Quarter Mentor (CQM), leading a class of first-year students in discussion about campus resources at DePaul. I also joined Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a co-ed service fraternity that volunteers with organizations throughout Chicago.
Junior Year: I continued working as a CQM, became an Executive Board member of APO, and began tutoring at the University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL).
Senior Year: I am enjoying my third year as a CQM and member of APO and my second year as a tutor at the UCWbL. I also started writing for DeBlogs! Originally, I was hesitant to apply for DeBlogs because of my status as a senior. I felt like I may be joining too late.
But I soon realized that it is never too late to find something you are interested in and getting involved isn’t something only freshmen do. I speak from experience when I say you can always find new ways to get involved at DePaul. Being a member of the campus community is an ongoing process and it is important to keep your eyes open for fresh opportunities!
Hi! My name is Olivia and I am a senior majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in English. I love to read, write, and spend all my free time working with kids, so it’s a pretty fitting major for me.
I grew up in La Grange, a western suburb and have been a lifelong fan of all things Chicago. I am a huge Bulls fan, despite the fact that their management has made quite a few poor choices recently (cough cough the Jimmy Butler trade cough). But I continue to watch and Bull-ieve that we can soon return to the glory of the 90s.
I am one of the few bloggers on DeBlogs that won’t mention their love for food in their introductory blog because I am an incredibly picky eater with food allergies. So if you are looking to hear about Chicago style pizza hot spots, look to someone else. But if you’re sick of hearing the debate between Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s, read on!
Though I can’t speak much about Chicago restaurants, I can certainly make up for it by sharing my Intel on Chicago’s music venues. A few of my favorites are Northerly Island and Aragon Ballroom, but I’ll save those details for a future blog. I absolutely love going to concerts and that is where I spend most of my money.
Luckily, I have money to spend thanks to my many on-campus jobs as a Chicago Quarter Mentor, writing tutor at the UCWbL, and of course blogger with DeBlogs. I also work at the local shop, Monograms on Webster and as a Lincoln Park nanny (I told you I like to spend a lot of time with kids!).
Well, that’s me! I hope you continue to follow my posts to learn more about me, Chicago, and of course DePaul!