I am ashamed to admit that I have previously shied away from exercising my right to vote, citing my lack of political knowledge as an excuse- however invalid. We all benefit from a bit of hindsight perspective, so I’ve written a letter to my Freshman self, highlighting three key questions that post-secondary students may want to consider as they strive to not only be well-informed voters but active contributors to positive social change. If only time travel were possible. Dear Freshman self,Please do not take your recently acquired right to vote for granted. Take the time to become informed on social and political issues, advocate for those that matter to you, and give back to your community. Below are three questions I want you to ask yourself repeatedly over the next four years:
Are you repeatedly challenging your views and beliefs, while questioning their origins?University and college campuses serve as hubs for activism and advocacy. You will have plenty of opportunities to listen, learn, and participate, while discovering your own stances and opening your mind to alternative perspectives. Be sure to check out any information sessions, fundraising events, and demonstrations taking place, both on campus and via social media channels.
As you partake in all that your institution has to offer, are you turning around and giving back to the community, both on and off campus?There are so many worthy causes in need of extra support, and however many hours a day, week, or month, you are able to contribute, will ultimately make a difference in your own life as well as the community around you. Again, utilize technology to seek out opportunities and research organizations that you would like to devote your time to.
Are you fostering relationships and participating in initiatives that will support personal growth and skills development throughout and beyond your academic career?Upon graduating, you will want to feel prepared for what lies ahead, whether it be further education or a plunge into the workforce. Employers and academic programs alike, seek out candidates who exhibit strong leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as a desire to provoke change. A great way to cultivate and develop these traits is by immersing yourself in student governance at whatever capacity you can.
Sincerely,Your older, slightly wiser, self
Combining the physical convenience and visibility of campus spaces with the far-reaching capabilities of social media provides today’s post-secondary learners with numerous outlets and opportunities to embrace the words of Mahatma Gandhi and be the change they wish to see in the world.