Extracurricular Reflections: Election Season

While the United States picked its president on November 6, at Middlebury we’ll be choosing our next president of the Student Government Association on May 3. It’s an exciting time, with aspiring candidates putting up creative posters, accosting students outside the dining halls, and giving dramatic speeches in random locales in an attempt to woo the undecided masses.

For me, this year’s election season is bittersweet. For the last year I have served as president of the Student Government Association, which has been a unique and fantastic opportunity for me. In that role, I have sent thousands of emails, attended hundreds of meetings, and worked with fellow students, faculty, staff, and administrators across campus. It has been a wonderful learning experience for me, as I’ve had to engage with a variety of issues, learned to work more collaboratively and effectively, and to be a real leader. As I’m getting ready to transition out, I know I’ll miss having these opportunities.

In many ways, as you can see, I’ve learned as much in this extracurricular pursuit as in some of my classes. While my particular role is unique, the incredible learning value of extracurriculars for Midd students is not. Student athletes learn about the value of teamwork on and off the field. Members of performing groups, in addition to honing their various techniques, are also coordinators and leaders who work with others to accomplish shared goals. A major driver of what keeps Middkids busy day-to-day is our extracurricular involvements, and that is a key reason that student life here is so vibrant. We take these commitments seriously because they are as important as what we do in the classroom in driving student learning. But they’re also fun.

As I nostalgically watch underclassmen campaign for my job, it is hard not to think of the extent to which my non-academic commitments have shaped my time at Middlebury—my skill sets and schedule, to be sure—but far more importantly the friendships I have made and the ways in which I enjoy myself. The choices we make on that front sometimes may seem arbitrary when we make them, but ultimately have significantly consequences for how we spend our time. My involvement over the last four years in student government, Hillel, the College Democrats, College Choir, and other groups have fundamentally shaped my time at Middlebury. They’ve each been learning experiences, they’ve been places to make friends and enjoy myself, and the way it’s all shaken out, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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