Involvement develops life-long relationships

By: Tommy Melis / Contributing Writer

In no way do I profess to be any smarter than I really am. Most of what I know today comes from a wealth of knowledge I have acquired through the mere act of getting involved.

In 2009, I volunteered as a photographer for SAVE Dade, a Miami-Dade County-based equal rights organization. Thanks to working with an accomplished photographer and his team, I learned about all the challenges Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens face. Later in 2010, they asked me to volunteer again helping with a fundraiser event, where I got to meet and talk with Ileana Ross Lehtinen.

The event proved satisfying as I got to express my concerns, and learn about changes taking place through conversations with other prominent Miami political figures. Students can benefit by building their social network now, through becoming engaged in civic life.

If you are like me, you probably get at least three different invitations to go out on the weekends with friends. Fantastic! Make lasting relationships now; you might not have as much free time when your in the work field. What you are doing with friends can make the difference between getting a mediocre job and a lasting difference in your community.

When I volunteered for Alternative Breaks-Environmental Causes in 2009-2010, I got to help out surveying fishermen in the Dominican Republic, and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of marine life in that specific region. A University of Miami researcher led the study in conjunction with Jennifer Grimn, an environmental science professor here at FIU.

On transferring, I became so obsessed with joining every club, and being sure everyone had to like me. In turn, I lost sight of pursuing the training I would really need for the career I wanted.

The Center for Academic Leadership helped me work on maintaining professional conversations with peers that helped me keep focused.

Attending some of the Career Centers workshop provided me with direct internet links I have used to apply for jobs. The transgender panel discussion at Biscayne Bay Campus gave me a different perspective about transgender life, and taught me the real tolerance I feel they deserve.

When students attend open SGA meetings, they have an opportunity to voice their opinions, and concerns.

Speaking up to an organization in charge of allocating funds to students organizations might help students get what they want out of FIU.

When you care about an issue enough to get involved with organizations and other groups that share a common interest, you begin to expand your lasting social network for life that you may later need in life to make a mark on your resume and in your career.

In no way does this mean that you are missing out on the fun. In fact, most places you volunteer for will give you incentives to take advantage of the service they provide.

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts gives four theatre and opera tickets to their volunteers for every 70 hours they put in as ushers. SAVE Dade lets you be part of their $100 a ticket infamous Halloween party after only four hours of helping out. Who knows, meeting your future spouse might only be one volunteer job away.

The probability of meeting quality people will most likely improve from anyone you might meet in a bar.

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