It’s amazing how empowering social acceptance really is. Once you feel like you fit in somewhere, boundaries begin to fall and your potential seems limitless. Many of us went through high school without really finding our crowd or just couldn’t find people with shared interests (ok, so maybe you didn’t have those problems, but I was a bona-fide geek :-)). However, when I got to RIT there were a gazillion (read: 130 at the time)student organizations to help me find my niché. And once I did, I had a much better idea of who I want to be and what I can really do.
The best thing any freshman can do is to join as many clubs as they can. The first year isn’t nearly as busy as later years and the time period is good to figure out which clubs you don’t want to be in.
With anime and video games being my big interests when I started school, the Anime Club and the Electronic Gaming Society (EGS) were obvious choices. After years of being made fun of for my interests, it was great to finally be surrounded with people I could have serious discussion with about our hobbies. Anime Club had showings every week that I would go to with friends after class, and EGS exposed me to the first group of people that didn’t ridicule my dream career path as a game programmer and designer. Both clubs helped me open up as a person because I didn’t fear revealing or talking about the things I liked to do.
However, I also wanted to try some new things. My high school taught me the value and joy of community service, so I joined RIT’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. Being shy and unassertive always bothered me -- which is why I sought out LEAD (now the RIT Leadership Institute or RLI). Since I spent so much time on my computer for classes, it was clear that I needed to get out. The Outing Club provided the perfect escape. All of these clubs helped realize that I could fit in with other groups, learn to do some really neat things, and meet lots of amazing people.
Over the years, the only club I really stuck with was the Outing Club (at varying points in time I was the treasurer, secretary, and president of the club), but each organization gave me a unique take on life, different types of people, and fun ways to be a part of the world.