It feels like just yesterday that I was laying on the floor of my Freshman year dorm, drinking an iced coffee and filling out the job application for the Center for Community Engagement’s open student assistant position. It was the first job application I had ever filled out. And I remember reviewing it ten times over before submitting it because I wanted the job so badly. I also remember very clearly the interview I had with Merith, the Director of the CCE. I was late to my ultimate frisbee practice that followed the interview because I was so happy about how the interview went that I completely forget I even had practice. After that day, I never would have guessed that I would be working in the CCE practically every weekday for the next three years.
My job duties began with writing the weekly emails that we send to over 700 community partners, 460 faculty members, and 450 students. This task was challenging at first, but I soon got the hang of it. Writing these emails so frequently has made me a strong writer, and taught me how to target my writing to a specific audience. A few months in, I took on the responsibility of posting on our Twitter multiple times a day and draft a lot of our Facebook posts. I’ve written 16 blog posts, many spotlight articles that are featured in our twice annual newsletters (which I also create), and attended lots of community events. Most importantly, I have learned so much about myself along the way.
Throughout the years I have participated in many community events such as Social Media Roundtables at the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, a Rohnert Park Town Hall meeting, too many Shadow Days and Discovery Days to count, and the CCE’s Strategic Planning and Civic Action Planning meeting. All of these events were great and taught me a lot about our community. However, my favorite event was Trunk-Or-Treat, a Halloween event that allowed children affected by the North Bay Wildfires to dress up, trick-or-treat, and play games in a safe environment. It was hosted in a parking lot at Sonoma State. It was one of the busiest days for me, I had a morning shift in the CCE followed by class, the CCE’s 10th Anniversary Party, another class, Trunk-Or-Treat, and then Vagina Monologues practice. I knew from the moment I arrived to help set up the event, that it was going to be special. The looks on the children’s faces when they saw the many car trunks decorated in all different themes, the carnival-style games, and the dance floor complete with a bubble machine made me completely forget about how tired I was from my busy schedule. It was an amazing reminder of why I enjoy working in the CCE. The work I do every day behind the scenes allows people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with the Sonoma State and Sonoma County communities in a helpful and meaningful way.
In September 2015, about 2 months after I started working for the CCE, I contracted a foodborne illness and was hospitalized for a little over a month. All of my fellow co-workers and my supervisor Merith, were so welcoming and more than understanding when I returned. And they continued to make sure I was alright in the months following. I will always cherish this lesson they taught me and will never forget their care and generosity.
The CCE and civic engagement at Sonoma State has changed dramatically, for the better, over the past 3 years. I’ve seen first-hand a shift in making civic engagement a priority. This includes the integration of our VISTA program and the creation of the new strategic action plan for the CCE and SSU. I hope every student considers civic engagement a valuable experience while in college.
The CCE taught me countless professional skills, that I value greatly. However, I think the most important lessons I learned were the life lessons. I learned how to manage my time, network, think critically, collaborate, and take pride in my work. My past 3 years in the CCE showed me that I have a passion for connecting and engaging with my local community and I hope to have a long career doing so.