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Involvement Equals Success

January 8, 2020
three woman sitting outside under a tree
Student volunteers from the Big Event, an annual event organized by the office of Service, Leadership and Community Engagement (SLCE). The Big Event encourages students to give back to the local community through service.

The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership creates a one-stop shop for student engagement. 

By Micaela Myers 

Without student involvement, business management senior Makenna Shaw might have just shown up for classes and missed out on friends, fun and important skills that helped her determine what she wants to do with her life.

“I’ve learned a lot about what I think I want to do once I graduate,” says Shaw, who works as a coordinator for UW’s student-driven 7220 Entertainment and came to UW from the Denver area. “It’s helped me to stay involved on campus, and it’s taught me a lot of skills I think will be applicable in the real world, such as my time management.”

Studies show that actively engaged students lead to increased retention and graduation rates. That research prompted the creation of the UW Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL), which provides inclusive student-centered programs, communities, services and experiential learning opportunities to complement the academic experience.

 

One-Stop Shop

“Previous to this center’s creation, we used to have a lot of different opportunities existing in many different pockets of the university,” says CSIL Director Jeremy Davis. “Through the creation of the center, it brings them all together organizationally as one. It’s also seamless for the student experience as well.”

Under the CSIL umbrella, you’ll find 7220 Entertainment, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs), Studio Wyo, Alternative Breaks, SLCE (Service, Leadership and Community Engagement Office) and a variety of community service and community engagement offerings, plus Associated Students of UW, Multicultural Affairs, resource centers (multicultural, rainbow, veterans’ and women’s) and more.

CSIL created efficiencies such as streamlined communication and ensuring multiple events don’t take place on one night. “It makes us more efficient with resources as well, so we can make events bigger, better and more meaningful for the students,” Davis says.

Now, students interested in getting involved can head to CSIL in person on the third floor of the Wyoming Union, or they can go on the website and view options thematically by activities and involvement, community engagement and service, diversity and inclusion, leadership, or services and facilities.

“It provides a one-stop shop so you can go to one organization in one place and find all the options that you have,” Shaw says. “That provides students with a great way to ease into getting involved, because it’s right in front of you.”

CSIL takes its direction from students. “We have a student involvement and leadership council,” Davis says. “It’s a group that provides input and feedback, and works to collaborate and network as student leaders. We have membership at the table that represents each area.”

From big music acts to bingo and silent disco, CSIL oversees a wide variety of student events. In addition, UW offers an unprecedented number of RSOs for a school this size—currently more than 270.

 

small group of people celebrating outside
Students from fraternities Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Phi Epsilon celebrate after winning a kickball tournament during Greek Week, an annual competition that promotes positive interaction between the Fraternity and Sorority Life community and UW.

Benefits of Involvement

Computer science sophomore Simon Beer of Cheyenne also serves as a coordinator with 7220 Entertainment, tasked with bringing in concerts and comedians.

“A big part of my involvement with CSIL has been meeting new people and talking with them. This has helped me make a lot of new friends,” he says. “Getting involved helped me feel comfortable at the university. It has really made my college experience more enjoyable.”

He also learned communication and leadership via his involvement. “Through being a coordinator, a lot of communication is required, whether it be with our middle agent, to help book new artists, or with my club members I lead,” Beer says. “This is also why I would say leadership is a big takeaway—because I have to lead people at my events and guide them on what to do to make the event work.” 

Beer advises new students to branch out. “Find something you are interested in or passionate about, and do it. If it doesn’t end up working out, then move on to the next thing. Getting involved has improved my college transition, and I want everyone to have that experience.”

Shaw agrees. She joined eight RSOs her first year. She also recommends trying as many things as possible and then narrowing down from there.

You don’t need a big time commitment to see big benefits, Davis says. “There are decades of research that show getting involved your first semester has tangible benefits such as a higher GPA, persisting from year to year and having strong support networks, which means you’re more likely to come back to campus, resulting in graduation at higher rates. Even after graduation, there are benefits in that you are more likely to find a job or get into graduate school if that’s your goal.”

 

What Student Involvement Means to Me ...

 

Hayley Stromberg, Nursing

“Each day and each year brings new challenges and opportunities for growth, and I want to be able to leave my mark knowing I did what I could to become the best version of myself. UW in itself is a hidden gem, and I fully believe my experience wouldn’t be the same if I was somewhere else.”

 

Dalton Blasé, Management and Marketing

“The Big Event is one of my favorites! Seeing such a large diverse group of our student body get together to help strangers was eye opening. It made me proud to be involved at the university and has further developed my sense of purpose among myself and my peers. Through this experience, I’ve truly made lifelong friendships and developed my roots with this university.”

 

Alex Jacobson, Psychology and Honors

“I have met some of my closest friends and colleagues through working in SLCE and with other offices in CSIL. The people and the programs offered through SLCE have pushed me to become a better person and a better leader. After I graduate, I will remember what it feels like to be part of a team that values each member and works with their strengths.”

 

Makenna Shaw, Business Management

“I will remember all of the incredible skills that I have learned through my involvement, and I will be able to take these skills post-graduation to excel in my career. My involvement while at the university has helped to shape me and my abilities, and without these involvements, I would not be who I am—and for that I am thankful!”

 

Simon Beer, Computer Science

“I have met some of the coolest people from working in 7220 Entertainment! Not celebrities, but the people in the club itself. The coordinators and members of the organizations are excellent, and everyone involved has been nothing but great to me. This is something I will not forget and something that has made college easier and more enjoyable.”

 

Mia Holt, Physiology & Native American and Indigenous Studies

“Becoming more involved helped me establish self-confidence and implemented new leadership strategies. I am able to connect with who I am and what I stand for. I am able to bring these qualities with me back to my family, my child, and my reservation and reflect on everything that I have experienced here at the University of Wyoming.”

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