Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding Your Niche

As a first year student, I did not know what to expect coming to CSU, Chico. Some of the things that did come to mind though were, how diverse the campus would be? What kind of people would I meet? How would I make friends? My first day of school was definitely a culture shock and made me feel very alone. I walked through campus feeling like the only Mexican on the whole campus. I felt so alone and with no diversity. I started to become really homesick, but made an effort in talking to strangers in hopes of creating friendships. I would eat at Whitney Hall alone listening to my music and knew right away that it this was not who I was. The next couple of days that week I would ask other students, who were eating alone, if I could join them.  Soon I came across other students who were in the same boat as me and felt homesick. 

Coming to Chico, I knew that I wanted to be involved and remembered that there was an organization, MEChA, which I was in during high school that was also on Chico State Campus. I found out that they were located in a place called the Cross Cultural Leadership Center. One day after class, I walked over to the center and as soon as I stepped foot inside, I was welcomed with open arms and a sense of relief came over me. I asked the front desk attendant if there was someone I could talk to about MEChA at Chico State. Fortunately, one of their para-professionals was actually the president of the organization and was happy to talk to me. We talked about our backgrounds and found out the we lived 30 minutes away from each other back in southern California. He also talked to me about programs that MEChA would do around the community and on campus.  He then gave me a tour of the CCLC and let me know that I could come and do homework, use the computer, and even sleep there. I finally felt at home and a sense of belonging at the center. I found that it was the most diverse part of campus and I met people from all over the state, the country, and even the world.

I recommend that if you are one of those students who are in the similar situation that I was in, go to the Cross Cultural Leadership Center in the Meriam Library. All of the staff make you feel at home and you will meet some of the most amazing people at Chico State. The CCLC also provides diversity events like the Diversity Summit, Blueprint for Success Conference, and the ILead conference to help students create greater bonds with other students and faculty on campus. These conferences will not only help you succeed during your college years, but creates you into a more well rounded person. 

By Andrea Hernandez 

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