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Institutionalized activities don’t define Rice experience

By Tina Nazerian     11/5/14 5:49am

I remember the first time I got rejected from co-advising. Having just left my FWIS class, I was on the steps of Fondren Library, heading toward the quad, when I got the email informing me I had not been selected. I slumped my way back to McMurtry College; I had really wanted to advise. This was not the first, nor last, rejection I received. Advising is one of the institutionalized experiences that Rice students apply for, and get disappointed if they are rejected.

Alternative Spring Break and IMPACT Rice applications have now passed us, and before we know it, advisor selection applications will re-emerge. People want to participate in these types of institutionalized experiences, as I call them, for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include students hearing about them from friends and peers, social media rendering these activities fairytale-esque, students feeling that these opportunities will help them build their Rice careers and, of course, genuine interest. However, as Rice students, we must understand that these activities — while they do have positive aspects — are not the ultimate markers of the Rice experience.

Maybe you’re thinking I’m one to talk because I did an ASB my freshman year and IMPACT as a sophomore, and to some extent, you’re right. I would be a hypocrite if I did not acknowledge that those were good experiences for me, and I would not take them back.

I have felt the sting of rejection with advising. I have been rejected from six different colleges, one of them my own, over the past two years. Looking at those rejections, stepping back and thinking about my own ASB and IMPACT experiences have led to me conclude that nobody needs these institutionalized experiences to make the most out of their time at Rice.

Realistically speaking, ASB started my interest in volunteering during college (not to mention instantly giving me the chance to be productive over spring break) and IMPACT introduced me to a lot of people and helped me better understand my goals and leadership style. I could have become interested in volunteering in a different way, and I could have developed an understanding of my goals and leadership style without IMPACT. As for advising, I can give advice and be there for each new class without the label of “advisor.”

A decade from now, I will not remember my ASB and IMPACT as being the top influential things that happened to me at Rice, although I did have great moments being involved with them. I will remember the long nights at the Thresher, spontaneously driving to Galveston at 2 a.m. with my best friend and getting an essay score back and realizing that my determination to not bomb it had paid off.

You do not need to do an ASB to get thrown into the world of volunteering. There’s RSVP, PAIR and a plethora of other options — you can even create your own opportunities. You do not need IMPACT to make a difference on campus and beyond — if you see something you want to change positively, do it. With or without an official title, it does not matter. You do not need to advise to help new students have a great and fulfilling first year.

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