Building Community on Campus
As an incoming student into the class of 2024, I started my first undergraduate year at Queen’s in my small childhood bedroom in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC. Being the only student from my graduating class that applied to Queen’s, I felt like going to an out-of-province university would give me a fresh start. However, this also meant that as I began my university experience from my bedroom at home, the closest connection I had to my peers were the silent Zoom icons during each tutorial.
I felt very isolated and began to fear that I was missing out on the friendships and memories that I was so eager to make. During this time, my upper-year mentor suggested I attend the virtual club fair where I could learn more about the different clubs and communities that Queen’s had to offer. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Jack.org Queen’s, a youth mental health organization that focuses on mental health education and breaking the stigma surrounding it. After speaking with the co-presidents and hearing their excitement and passion for the club, I applied to be one of the first-year interns and it was one of the best decisions I could have made. In addition to the events and campaigns that I helped organize, I found a community of like-minded peers who cared for each other and worked towards the same goal. Throughout a year of dreaded online university, this club made me feel a part of the Queen’s community and our weekly executive meetings became my highlight.
Entering second year, I was fortunate to join three clubs on campus and also be a volunteer for an AMS service. I decided to continue advocating for mental health through Jack.org Queen’s, while also joining two more clubs. The Canadian Undergraduate Conference on Healthcare (CUCOH), allowed me to explore my passion for healthcare and medicine, while Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis (QBACC) let me advocate for sustainable policies on campus. Finally, I volunteered for Studio Q, where I collaborated with my peers and improved my skills as an amateur photographer and videographer. Each of these opportunities allowed me to develop and grow as a teammate and leader. It also exposed me to individuals from a variety of programs and faculties that I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to meet. Many of these connections have transformed into close friendships that will remain with me throughout the rest of my undergraduate career and beyond.
There is truly a club and position for everyone. For fashion trendsetters, there is the Vogue Charity Fashion Show; and the tech geniuses can participate in QHacks, an annual hackathon organized at Queen’s. You can learn about all of the clubs and societies that Queen’s has to offer by browsing the AMS Club Directory. If you are also hoping to earn some money, applying to an AMS position can provide you with many of the same opportunities for personal growth and community involvement. For incoming students, I suggest attending the club open-house that happens during early September. Most clubs hire first-year interns, and this is a great way to get involved with the executive team, meet upper-year students, and learn valuable learnership skills. For upper year students, it’s never too late to explore a passion and get involved. However, if committing to an executive position may seem too overwhelming, there are still plenty of ways to get involved. Many clubs have lower-commitment member and volunteer positions, or you could participate in any events or campaigns that clubs host to show your support.
One of the most common regrets that graduating students have is not getting involved sooner. My suggestion is to not make the same mistake. So far, the clubs and organizations that I have had the privilege to be a part of have greatly enriched my experience at Queen’s and I am very grateful for all the new friends and memories I have made. When I look back in 10 years, it will be the club socials and events that I will remember, not the crammed lectures in the BioSci Complex. As a final word of advice, get involved, be curious, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.