Early in the morning, student Genesis Barwick wakes up at her place out in the country, gets ready, gets in the car with her roommate, and begins the long drive to the college.
“I live out in the country, so I drive an hour and a half here three days a week” Barwick said. “Take K-10 [to] I-435. I carpool with my roommate … I go to chemistry, and then anatomy. On Tuesdays I have public speaking.”
After class, she walks down the hallway straight to her car. Although she passes club advertisements all over the wall, she knows she doesn’t have time for them. She was more involved in high school.
“I was a huge band nerd,” Barwick said. “I was a drum major of my band for three years. I was very involved with the choir as well.”
Barwick also works at a restaurant over in Lawrence, taking up even more of her time. Student Des Horner has a similar experience as she works at Target 20 to 30 hours a week. Horner described her typical day at the college.
“I get up. I drive here. I go to class, then leave,” Horner said.
This is the type of situation Paul Kyle, dean of Student Services and Success, said he believes is the reason certain students do not get more involved on campus.
“I think the person that doesn’t get involved are those who are already involved elsewhere,” Kyle said. “They may already be engaged with clubs, or work. They just don’t have any time. They’re already committed to other organizations in the community, which is a good thing.”
As opposed to this kind of student, Kyle also outlined why he believes some students go to great lengths to become involved.
“I think really it depends on, sometimes, their background,” Kyle said. “Generally, what you see is people who were involved in high school tend to do that forward. But I think you also see a lot of individuals that really may have been somewhat not as involved in high school and now that they don’t have to mess with the cliques and things of high school, they kind of be their own, so sometimes they have the opportunity to kind of explore and pursue their interests.”
Lauren Stephenson is that student.
“My whole life I’ve had a lot of social anxiety, and I was really shy and didn’t really get involved at all in anything,” Stephenson said. “I realized I had been missing out on a lot of opportunities. It was hard to make friends because [I was] so shy and afraid of people.”
Stephenson is a member of three student programs at the college, including the Honors Student Association, has leadership positions in four clubs, including the Founder and President of the Computer Club, and she also works as a Support Specialist in the CoLab.
At Cav Craze last year, she was walking around with a list of clubs she was interested in and decided to make the move to join them.
“I started out just being a regular member in all of them,” Stephenson said, “but as I became more confident, my social anxiety started to become less severe. So, I started taking leadership positions because I was really passionate about the stuff [I] was involved in.”
On a typical day for her, she’ll be at the college for almost 14 hours. After making the 30 minute commute from Edgerton, she’ll go to class, then a meeting, then a class, and then something else, and so on.
Some students are simply looking to check off general education classes, but others want to be here as much as they can, and there are plenty of opportunities for them. Kyle described what he thinks is the benefit of getting involved with the clubs and programs on campus.
“In a sense, we’re kind of like a mini-city with 20,000 students,” Kyle said. “We’re kind of a model of that, and I think we’re a safe model in that. There are mistakes that might be made, but it’s ok. You can kind of explore who you are. That’s what we’re trying to do, build and have that atmosphere where you can explore who you are and get some identity without the context of society.”