College is about exploring, learning and growing while finding the interests to which you want to dedicate your life.
I found all of these things through student involvement, but it was only after receiving multiple rejections from student organizations my freshman year.
I was eager to find my fit on campus in an organization, and this led me to interview for programs I had no real reason to get involved with. I was told “no” by many organizations, including the Student Government Association which has ultimately become one of my favorite parts of college.
I decided to come to Auburn from a small, rural high school for many reasons, but mainly because of the stories I heard from older friends about their experiences of finding their passions and leadership potential through campus involvement. I was also drawn by the beautiful, walkable campus and the supportive, empowering atmosphere.
Involvement at Auburn didn’t seem cheesy or just something to put on a resumé.
I could tell that the students who served in different organizations loved what they did and found a lot of joy in the friendships and projects they worked on.
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I look back through my catalog of AUinvolve submissions and remember the anxiety leading up to several freshman year interviews.
Even more significantly, I remember the disappointment I felt when I was not selected.
Three years later, however, I am more thankful for the noes that I received my freshman year than the yeses.
The disappointing rejections led me to rethink what I wanted my time at Auburn to look like and how I wanted to contribute to making Auburn a better place.
I had the free time to explore Auburn without commitments, and this had a bigger impact on my reason for wanting to serve than I could have predicted.
I was applying to find an organization I could call home — like I had heard stories about — but living, loving and investing in the moments around me is what ultimately made me love Auburn more than I could have ever expected.
I poured into relationships and realized that the people are truly what makes Auburn different. Peer friendships and support has been the cornerstone and definer of every moment of college.
I went to as many events as I could.
I learned about student initiatives and realized the impact that students were making on this campus.
Because of these realizations my freshman year, I was much better equipped to serve the student body through SGA in the following years.
My first role with SGA was Director of City Relations where I realized I cared deeply about this area. This took form through Impact Projects, one of the areas in which I invested my freshman year.
I am grateful for the ways involvement has given me opportunities to grow in addition to friends who challenge me to understand different perspectives.
I hope that every student finds a community that supports and encourages them, while also discovering opportunities to stretch their potential.
As you look for your place, remember that one door closing is equipping and enabling you to find your passion somewhere else that you might care about even more.
Don’t feel a pressure to apply to things that you don’t have a real desire to contribute to, and never forget the value of the relationships and the reason you want to serve: the people and those friendships.
“Wherever you are, be all there” is the best advice I have ever received, and I am confident this mentality will lead you to find joy in every experience at Auburn.
Being told no allowed me to realize what I was truly passionate about, rethink the way and reason I wanted to get involved, invest in the people around me and do what I really cared about.
Ultimately this led to the greatest honor and learning opportunity of my time at Auburn — serving as SGA President.
Mary Margaret Turton is a senior in business analytics and public relations.
The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors.
These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees.
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