I have arrived at a time of renewal.
After a long summer in the sun–trainings, retreats, orientation, lunch dates–the fall semester brings a long awaited jolt to the system. As much as I appreciate the break from less structure, I know I must return to abiding by my class and work schedule. I feel very motivated to accomplish more than I have before in my last fall semester of undergrad.
In addition to this public relations writing class, I am enrolled in courses on photojournalism, global challenges, and a public relations agency practicum, called TALK. I believe I will learn valuable skills from each course, but I definitely will need to put forth great effort.
I will serve on a brand new committee within the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning called service-learning coaches. Myself and six student leaders will facilitate six workshops for students enrolled in multiple service-learning courses, with a focus on reflection. I am passionate about service-learning because the service (the action) and the learning (the reaction) have equal importance, hence the hyphen.
This week, I will begin my new role as a student coordinator for Dog Days: New Student Orientation. Our core staff is made up of two student coordinators, an assistant coordinator and our main coordinator. During the fall, we are responsible for organizing Family Weekend, an event for new students and their families to gather for a tailgate, football game, campus facility tours and more. We also interview and hire staff for the following summer. This will be my third year with the program after two summers as an orientation leader.
I am also preparing to co-lead the next international service-learning trip to the beautiful islands of Fiji. I am excited to collaborate with a new group of students from a wide variety of majors, and to plan the project under the guide of Dr. Martin Shapiro of the psychology department and Dr. Lisa Anderson of the anthropology department. It will be great fun, but I know it will also take some effort to build rapport as a team and make sure we extract meaning from our service. Additionally, I will be working on my honors research essay involving this trip, with a focus on technology and globalization.
Outside of Fresno State, I am highly involved at my church as a college ministry servant leader and soon to be junior high ministry volunteer staff. This is a weekly commitment on Wednesday and Thursday nights, as well as Sunday mornings with junior high. I am really excited to be involved with students, and walk alongside them as they encounter the highs and lows of life as a young person. I also help out as a barista in our cafe services on Sunday, something different to keep me sane.
To me, balance is extremely important this semester. I will try to devote 5-7 hours every week to enjoyable activities, whether that’s spent exercising, reading, journaling, listening to music, cooking, watching TV, meditating or just rest. I also will ask my fellow leaders at school and at church hold me accountable, to let me know if I am taking on too much, or to just lean on for support. I will use two planners/calendars–soft and hard copy–to keep myself organized. I really like Google calendars, and the Passion Planner downloadable PDFs. I also plan to lessen the time spent on my phone or tablet for personal use. I will take into consideration Professor Betsy Hays’s lesson on ‘Managing Social Media in 21 Minutes Per Day.’ I will remind myself to simplify in moments of overload.
-Erika D. Castañon