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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 16, 2024

‘Your identity cannot exist on titles and organizations alone’

Dear Applicant,

Congratulations on submitting an application to a student organization! Now you begin the exciting — and intimidating — interview and decision-awaiting process. To the novice and experienced applicant alike, I share with you this modest thought: your student organizations are not your identity.  

It’s a simple statement really, yet an all too common trap for students at our University. Often, we let the organizations we join influence our values and shape our character, or we attempt to absorb an identity an organization already portrays. Texas A&M is a unique institution for a variety of reasons, but the caliber of students this school attracts and builds is arguably our most distinguishing quality. It is only natural that such an ambitious and competitive student body would have a numerous selection of high-quality student organizations. Nothing said here is intended to diminish the value of these groups but rather challenge you to ask yourself — why are you joining?

If your desire stems from a genuine passion to connect with like-minded students and serve a mission, vision and set of values you believe in, then I support you and wish you the best of luck. But if you are pursuing membership in an organization to find self-worth, identity, or an increased social value, then I challenge you to reassess the decision. Your identity cannot exist on titles and organizations alone. 

Through my time at A&M, I had many friends who earned membership in organizations when I did not, and I had opportunities which my friends were not given. After receiving a rejection from an organization, the blatant, insecure, feelings of failure begin to creep up. I would look at those who were accepted and compare resumes, personalities, connections — anything that I could — to discover what separated us. What made that applicant better? Why was I not good enough? I found one rejection could weigh as much as a dozen successes. 

Upon reflection, I felt ashamed — not because of the failure to make it into said organization, but because there was too much personal value placed in letting that organization define who I was. I felt ashamed that I was looking to a social club to validate my worth. 

Over my eight semesters at this University, I had the opportunity to be a part of many incredible student organizations. In each of these, I attempted to be continually conscientious of my motivations for joining and serving. It is from the perspective of these organizations — the ones where I joined to follow a passion and selflessly serve — that I hope to share with you a modicum of wisdom. For it was from these that truly defined my own college experience.

As Aggies, we have certain expectations established by the generations before us. We are expected to develop integrity, build leadership, and strive for excellence. I am a believer in — and product of — the reality that organizations help us grow and achieve those qualities. The things we can gain from our involvement do not end at the core values.  Being an active member of extracurricular activities build traits that a productive career in any field demands: communication, teamwork, organization. However, you must be careful to ensure that these organizations empower you, instead of take power over you.

Whichever way the decision letter sways, I humbly ask you to remember that your identity does not lie in an organization alone. 

 

 Jamie Bennett ’15

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