A Group for Everyone

Organization of African and Caribbean Students’ Heritage Night event and Sorority Bid Day at Penn State Behrend.

Organization of African and Caribbean Students’ Heritage Night event and Sorority Bid Day at Penn State Behrend.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Clubs extend learning beyond curriculum

In college, learning is hardly confined to the classroom. Students acquire valuable life skills by living with others in residence halls, working on group projects, juggling responsibilities, managing finances, and simply taking care of their own needs.

These softer skills are essential for self-sufficiency and personal success. At Penn State Behrend, students have the opportunity to hone these talents in more than 120 recognized clubs and organizations.

“Clubs complement what our students are learning by offering opportunities to practice problem-solving, project and event planning, teamwork, and so much more,” said Jaime McCaslin, coordinator of student organizations and program development. “The events and activities that our clubs coordinate are completely student run. They do it all themselves, though the Office of Student Activities is here to offer advice, guidance, and assistance, if needed.”

Clubs are as varied as the student body, covering nearly every area of interest or study, including athletics, academics, political affiliation, philanthropy, and international and ethnic clubs. Special interest groups focus on topics ranging from chess to animal rescue and gaming to agriculture.

Megan Stetz, a senior Interdisciplinary major, is a member of Alpha Sigma Tau, Panhellenic Council, Student Government Association, Soccer Club, and Project Paws, an animal-related service club.

“Many students think it’s too much to be involved in clubs while taking classes,” she said. “But, honestly, I think it has kept me on track by helping me to be more efficient and organized. I’ve learned time management, leadership skills, conflict management, and more. Clubs will give back much more than you can imagine if you put some time and energy into them.”

Stetz says Project Paws has given her memorable volunteer experiences at area animal shelters. “All the animals are so excited! They just want love and attention, so it’s nice to give them that for a few hours.”

McCaslin said one thing every club can offer students is a community. “Clubs and organizations give students a sense of belonging, a connection to campus, and a lot of opportunity to make new friends and try new things.”

Because they are student run, many clubs, especially special interest groups, come and go. Recently, McCaslin has seen an increase in service-related clubs. “This generation really seems to want to make a difference,” she said. “They want to do something that matters.”

Also increasing are the number of active members in the college’s fourteenplus cultural and ethnic clubs. “The International Student Organization, Multi-Cultural Council, and Association of Black Collegians have always been strong clubs at Behrend, but we’re now seeing increases in other ethnic clubs, too. The Chinese Cultural Advancement Club has really grown, and it’s doing some great things on campus.”