Get involved at JCCC
JCCC student groups will run more smoothly, have better luck recruiting members and be more effective at fundraising if leaders of the school’s Inter-Club Council have their way.
Michael Duah and Erick Mbembati have targeted recruiting, fundraising and leadership skills for a semester’s worth of training for leaders of the school’s more than 45 active student clubs and organizations.
Both bring a wealth of background to the effort. Duah has worked for the JCCC Center for Student Involvement since June 2010 and is one of the first contacts students make when they stop by that office to learn about the clubs and groups that are available on campus. He also works with established clubs and organizations.
Mbembati is the consummate joiner. He came to the United States from Tanzania in 2009 to study at JCCC at the invitation of his uncle. With no friends and limited English, it could have been a disaster. But Mbembati said someone invited him to join the International Club at JCCC early on.
“That made me feel comfortable,” he said. “I realized I could have friends, could have someone to talk to, could have someone to have lunch with.”
Through his involvement in the club, he began giving presentations about Tanzania around campus and elsewhere. That led to his election first as the club’s vice president and then president, the post he holds now.
Mbembati also was elected vice president of the Student Senate for the 2011-2012 school year. One of his responsibilities in that post is the Inter-Club Council, which draws together leaders from all of the student groups for training and coordinating activities. He and Duah are working on an ambitious training schedule for student group leaders through the council.
Student groups are an important part of the college experience. Research shows that students who make connections with other students, faculty or staff are more likely to complete their studies rather than drop out. Student organizations are one of the most visible ways that JCCC helps students connect.
The college has more than 70 officially recognized student groups, with more being formed every week, Duah said.
He and Mbembati offered these three tips for getting involved at JCCC:
- Choose a group that matches your passion, Duah said. Some JCCC groups, like the Academic Excellence Challenge Team, Model UN and Debate Team, have an academic focus. Others are formed around common experiences, like the Veterans Club and Queers and Allies. Still others are groups with a common interest, such as the Capoeira Club or the Game Interest Group. Don’t see one that matches your interests? Do like Chess Club founder Frank Williams did, and start your own.
- Budget your time wisely. Being an active member or leader of a club means juggling multiple priorities. “Don’t volunteer for everything at once,” Mbembati said. And if you’re a club leader, he advises being willing to share the work with others.
- Get to know people. Chat with others at meetings and social events. Listen to what they have to say. And know that some of the relationships you form through the group could last long beyond the school year.