Involvement Fair creates connections

Involvement Fair; student organizations

Students explore campus groups at the Involvement Fair Aug. 31. (Photo: Vibhu S. Rangavasan)

The Involvement Fair featured an array of student organizations, campus departments and oddities that were just strange enough to pique any passerby’s interest, such as a mechanic bull ride and a life-sized cutout of Pope Francis.

The Aug. 31 event gave students a break between classes, a chance to explore on-campus opportunities that they could use as the first step toward a career, and a way to connect with a smaller community amongst the university’s 29,000 students.

For students studying public policy or pursuing careers as public servants, Undergraduate Student Government is a great way to get comfortable participating in board meetings and representing a large, diverse population.

“We’re the bridge between students and administrators, and we’re also the students’ voice, so any concerns, issues or suggestions, you guys make through us,” said David Lin, a senior studying management. The group’s latest achievement was helping to bring Panda Express and Chick-fil-A to Student Center East.

Regardless of religious beliefs or ethnic background, students can find a place for themselves within the Muslim Student Association, whose mission is to create a safe environment for all students. The group’s meetings alternate between recreational, educational and service-oriented initiatives, such as Project Downtown — where members serve food and provide clothes and activities for people who live near the Garfield Park mosque.

“I feel comfortable because I found a place for myself in this organization,” said public outreach chair Sarra Wahdan, a math major graduating next spring.  “When you see people who look like you and who you identify with, you feel like you’re not alone.”

Friends of InTouch is UIC’s crisis hotline organization, which students can join after taking a prerequisite course, PYSCH 386: Crisis Counseling Techniques. The organization describes the group as a gateway to a career in counseling, psychiatric therapy or another job in the health care field.

“After you get trained, you have an eight-month commitment to volunteer at the hotline,” said Monique Ortiz, a senior in psychology. The hotline is available to students who are dealing with anxiety, depression, family issues, domestic violence or other concerns.

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