Why joining a volunteer organization at UNC was a 10/10 decision

Universities are hubs of diverse opinions and open debates, but I think there’s one thing most (if not all) college students can agree on at one time or another: college is stressful y’all.

There can be so much pressure on classes, GPAs and the ever so elusive ~future~ that you often lose sight of what college really is: an opportunity for growth.

For many people, college is the first time you’re truly on your own. You’re faux-adulting and everything is new. If you leave a project at home, there’s no getting dad to bring it to the front office for you. If you lock you car door with your keys in the ignition, your mom can’t go get your spare key and drop it off while you cry in the student parking lot (yes, that actually happened).

Coming to UNC, I knew I couldn’t be one of those college students who is stuck in a never ending cycle of class, study, sleep, repeat. I wanted to be involved and actually have an experience that wasn’t just glorified high school.

So the best way I could think to do this to join some sort of organization or club. But it couldn’t just be any organization, I wanted to have purpose outside of just being a student, so I turned to a service club.

Throughout high school, I was involved with my local Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society. (Disclaimer: Relay for Life is NOT a race. If it were a race, yours truly would certainly not be involved.)

When I got to UNC, I saw that there was a Relay here, and immediately signed up to join the committee at Fall Fest. Fall Fest was arguably the most terrifying and hectic experience I had as a first-year, but seeing the familiarity of Relay, something I’d been involved in at home, was oddly comforting. Fast forward to three years later, I’ve moved up the ranks in Relay and I’m now one of the co-presidents.

And honestly, joining Relay for Life of UNC was probably one of the best choices I’ve made in college. Not only has Relay allowed me to form an extremely close friend group (I’d say 70% of my friends are involved in Relay one way or another — whether they volunteer or I force them to come to our events), but it’s afforded me so many professional development opportunities as well, which I certainly didn’t expect.

I was able to attend a national Relay for Life conference in Atlanta last summer, and I’ve built many professional relationships within Relay and with outside vendors as well. I’ve also grown in my personal life while trying to navigate the balance between being a friend and being a leader, which is not an easy task, especially in an entirely student-run organization like Relay for Life.

Also, the true pride and joy of my time in Relay, being the brain child behind Pin the Tears on Grayson Allen. I will talk about this until I die.

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Anyway, I don’t think I could recommend getting involved with a service org enough — it’s really been the highlight my college career. Yes, it’s definitely been stressful at times. I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears (quite literally — last April I fell off the stage at a Relay event and almost had to get stitches) into my work, but the good outweighs the bad by at least 30 times.

I could honestly go on and on about everything I’ve learned from Relay and all the tangible skills I’ve gained, but I’ll save that for a different post. This post is just to offer a little piece of advice that literally no one asked for: If you’re thinking about joining a club in school or even volunteering post-grad, go for it.

(And in true Relay/volunteer/fundraising fashion, I couldn’t end this post without a shameless plug. UNC is competing in a 3-point fundraising challenge — all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society — to prove that we’re the best on and off the court. Check it out.)


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