UMBC’s 50th anniversary celebrates not only a long record of higher learning, but also an environment that allows students to get involved in new hobbies and give back to their community. Kicking off the semester as well as anniversary festivities, the semiannual Involvement Fest was held Wednesday.
In spite of the 90 degree heat, the quad was packed with hundreds of students looking to join one of over 200 clubs and organizations at UMBC. Acapella groups took turns singing at the bottom of the hill in front of the commons. People handed out freebies like pens and popsicles to attract students to their booth. The organizations represented were as diverse as the student body.
The student groups were separated by type. Greek life and service-oriented organizations were closer to The Commons, cultural organizations were near the pool and recreation and hobby groups were closer to the math and psychology building.
The students were incredibly enthusiastic about greeting passersby and inviting people to give their organization a try. Many of them found their groups through Involvement Fest and were happy to share the experience with their fellow students, such as Maya Hale.
Hale, a Junior biology and psychology double major, is the president of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed, service-oriented fraternity. Hale found APO her freshman year at Involvement Fest.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do.” Hale said. “APO handed me a card. I liked the group, I liked what they were doing.”
Volunteering in service was important to Hale, but she did not know what opportunities were available to her until she visited her first Involvement Fest. She believes many other students share the same problem.
“I think that people don’t realize what the school has to offer. Having events like this, we get to get our name out and we connect with people who also love service. They get to find an outlet on campus,” Hale said.
Finding a place to connect on campus is good not just for the community, but for students’ well being as well. Breana Echols, a senior political science major, found a great support group in her student organizations. Echols is the president of UMBC’s Panhellenic Association which oversees five sororities that are focused on leadership, service and personal development.
“Involvement Fest is a great way to find your place at UMBC,” Echols said. “It’s all about your experience based on what you get involved in.”
Echols has seen a positive effect on the community through student involvement as well as a positive effect on the students.
“It’s about having that common bond and those people to turn to when you’re stressed. I’ve never been in an organization that hasn’t supported me,” she said.