Top Hat

GM encourages freshmen to get involved

Hello everyone! Summer is at its peak, and for many of us, our research, internships, and summer courses are at full swing. As the return to Rensselaer approaches, I’d like to extend a heartfelt welcome not only to our returning students, but to the incoming first years of the Class of 2018 as well! You are about to embark on a new chapter in your life, an experience that will allow you to grow as a student, a professional, and a leader; a journey that will connect you with lifelong friends along the way.

For those of you coming to campus for the first time, get ready for Student Orientation and Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond! SO and NRB offer a fantastic first look at all the Rensselaer experience has to offer, and NRB in particular offers a memorable experience for the rest of your time here. Personally, I’m excited meet you all myself in the Union After Dark event on Wednesday, August 20, and for Welcome Fest on Friday, August 22, where you’ll get a free meal and an evening of entertainment by the renovated Troy waterfront.

Of course, the start of the semester also means the start for classes. College work is certainly at a higher level than what you may have experienced in high school, but you’re never alone—there are others going through the exact same experience. Reaching out to professors and forming study groups are excellent ways to help you gain support that will allow you to tackle those first exams with confidence. By connecting with your peers and your teachers, you’ll create friendships and professional connections that may carry well beyond your time at RPI.

NRB week is only the beginning: take the initiative, and you’ll be able to find there are plenty of things to do outside the classroom. And if your academic life can support it, it is an incredibly rewarding experience to take it a step further; be a part of the planning of those events, those games, competitions and shows.

I joined Student Government as a freshman, and it’s been an amazing experience. This year’s Student Senate is led by a highly motivated group. Already, each committee chair has been working hard over the summer to prepare for the fall. We’re working on projects ranging from campus prescription delivery and residence hall feedback, to a public listing of research positions, to collaboration with Sodexo for student input and ideas, to assessments of classrooms that commonly receive feedback and scrutiny. These are all projects and initiatives you can become involved in—our committees are open to membership, and four voting Senate seats will be available for election in the fall.

If Student Government isn’t your thing, there are many other opportunities. You can pledge a Greek house, of which we have over 30 active on campus. You may want to play a sport—RPI has many opportunities available, and a strong athletic community between intramural sports and casual clubs to varsity teams. We also have other clubs ranging from Chess to League of Legends, to the RPI Players, Sheer Idiocy, and other performing groups, to community and humanitarian groups such as Engineers Without Borders and the Relay for Life Committee. With over 200 student organizations on campus, it won’t be hard to engage your interests.

Finally, the greatest advice I can give you is to embrace change. As you’re exploring your studies, and as you join clubs and groups, it’s easy to avoid the unknown and the uncertain, but there’s so much you can learn by trying new things. Reach out to that club you’re interested in and know nothing about, run for a student position, try a new sport. Follow your instincts, learn from your mistakes, and know that your path is never set in stone. College is about challenging yourself and figuring out what you’re passionate about. This experience is yours, and these years at Rensselaer are your years; with the right initiative you can make them some of the best of your life.

If you have any questions about RPI, about student government, or want to know other things to do on campus, feel free to email me at gm@rpi.edu. Good luck with the start of your semester and the end of your summer!