Featured picture: SPS/SEDS members in front of Launch Pad A at the Kennedy Space Center as a part of our Spring 2013 VIP tour.
I know trying to juggle classes, homework, labs and work can be extremely difficult. On top of all that, however, I would highly recommend testing out some of the clubs found here at Florida Tech. Either find something you already know you love, or take the opportunity to try something new. Clubs are a great way to meet people outside of a classroom or work setting, and also usually lead to some really fun activities. You can find all the clubs we have at this website. Here are some of the clubs I have participated in over the past years and why I consider them to be an important part of college life.
The first club I joined as a freshman was the sailing club. I thought it was great we were given the opportunity to learn how to sail, first with someone’s help, then by ourselves. My time spent on a boat has been sparse in my life, so it seemed like a great way to branch out. Then I took my first couple of boat outings. It didn’t take long for me to discover that sailing just is not my thing. Once we were out on the river, I got bored pretty quickly. Sailing and I weren’t meant to be, and I moved on.
STUDENT ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
The other club I tried out right from the beginning was the Student Astronomical Society (SAS). I was just starting out in my studies for space sciences and I thought this club sounded like a good way to get to know other people interested in my major. I attended some Astro Public Lectures, learned some things about telescopes, attended some observing nights and so forth. Some of my other school activities took time away from SAS my freshman year, but I ran for officer and got treasurer for the following year, so I was a lot more active my sophomore year. I learned all the behind-the-scenes stuff for requesting money from Student Activities, filling out reimbursement forms, renting the school vans and helping the club come up with fundraiser ideas. Being an officer is great, because you get a say in what activities the club does and you get to make things happen. It does require a bit more effort however, mostly in the form of attending a weekly officer meeting, on top of the weekly general meeting. After that year, I didn’t run for officer again, because of another officer position I got in another club (see below), and my attendance has been dwindling ever since as I get busier and busier. My discovery half-way through my junior year that I wanted to focus my career more on applied research rather than observing also changed my priorities. Again, trying out different things will help you choose what you really want to do with your life!
SOCIETY OF PHYSICS STUDENTS/STUDENTS FOR EXPLORATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF SPACE
About halfway through my first semester, my friend, future roommate, and now a Florida Tech alumna, Kim Walton, invited me to a SPS/SEDS meeting, which I had never heard of before, but it was physics and space related, so I decided to try it out. It wasn’t long before I realized I had found the right clubs for me. Since joining, we have done some pretty fun things:
- attending the 100-year Starship Symposium in Orlando, where I met my current mentor, Eric Davis, Ph.D.
- participating in community events such as Treat-or-Treat, the Homecoming Parade and Relay for Life
- attending the Kennedy Space Center, both the visitor’s center and VIP behind-the-scenes tours
- attending the annual SPS Zone 6 physics meetings, first in Orlando, then in Puerto Rico
- going to the Electrotherapy Museum
- hosting the physics department picnic every semester
- attending the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in Tallahassee last year and hopefully in Durham, North Carolina this upcoming year
and many other activities that have helped me make great friends and figure out what kind of career I would prefer to have. Trying out an academic club or two related to your major is always a good idea to have chances to learn more about what the field actually is like and to get advice from more experienced undergraduates. I am now in my second year as president of SPS, and I am trying my best to give my members as many opportunities as I can.
MARTIAL ARTS ASSOCIATION
I found this club through a self-defense class I took at the end of my freshman year. The instructor told me I should join his karate class the following year, and I was all for it. Before that, I hadn’t even known Florida Tech had a karate class! The Martial Arts Association (MAA) meets after every karate class for an extra hour of training, so I finally joined the spring semester of my sophomore year, and have been active ever since. In those two years, I have advanced to third belt (green, on a scale of white, blue, green, purple, brown, black), and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!
Don’t get the wrong idea; school always comes first, and if your club(s) are taking up too much time, you should definitely cut back a bit and focus on your studies. I tried joining the Swing Club and the Bowling Club, but I found I was trying to do too much and I never became a member. Clubs have made my college experience unique, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I challenge you to find at least one club you can be an active member in. Try something new, meet some new people, and have some wonderful experiences you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Get involved!