At Chestnut Hill College you might learn to shoot a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen or produce your own newscast like Ron Burgundy (albeit with a greater sense of professionalism and without the salon-quality hair). You can explore other cultures — France, China, Germany and others — all while promoting unity and acceptance on campus. Or you may choose to be a part of something bigger than yourself by sponsoring children to go to school in Uganda, raising money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals or even ending world hunger one grilled cheese at a time.
Okay, maybe you won’t do all of these things, but you can if you want because of the 30-plus diverse selection of clubs and activities available to CHC students.
“Clubs and organizations are the heart and soul of student activities, as they allow students to explore their own interests, learn about something new, and get to know each other by building community,” says Emily Schademan, director of student activities.
Adding that the goal is to offer “something for everyone,” Schademan, and the rest of the Student Activities staff, believe it is important to allow students who share a certain interest to start a new club on campus, and then give them the freedom to do so.
Black Student Union and Culture Club Promote Diversity and Acceptance
In the fall of 2014, Brenda Ho ’17, president of the Culture Club, was one of these students. Ho wanted to create a club that actively embraced the global world and to provide her fellow students with the opportunity to learn about these international cultures through various forms including film, art, food and games.
Last semester, the club held an event called “The French Experience,” designed to introduce students to the French culture through music, games and food. The event coincided with National French Week and, according to Ho, was a huge success. It is her hope that the club can host a similar event in the future.
“My wish for this club is to make a difference in at least one student’s life by giving them a glimpse of the beautiful and unique world that exists outside of our campus walls.” says Ho. “I want them to learn about themselves and about others as all of us together find our identities in our college careers.”
Another student who founded a new club on campus is Kaileik Asbury ’17, president of the Black Student Union (BSU). Like Ho, Asbury wanted to bring more of a cultural diversity and acceptance to campus, especially regarding issues faced around the world and within the African American community.
The club is still in its infancy, having just had its first meeting last October, but Asbury says the organization has had a positive effect on campus, with about 58 students supporting their past events including film screenings and lectures.
While the club is called the Black Student Union, Asbury stresses that it is important that everyone be involved. She notes that meetings and functions are open to everyone.
“My goal is to promote unity, cultural diversity, acceptance and comfortability through education and social awareness here in the Chestnut Hill community,” she says. “My hope is that we all, together, will grow in this regard.”
Unified for Uganda and Feel Good Change Lives Across the Globe
While still in high school, Kelly Dennis ’14, had a life-changing experience when watching the film “Invisible Children” and then became a founding member of the Unified for Uganda (U4U) organization. Dennis later visited Uganda and some of the children sponsored by U4U.
The experience touched Dennis, so much so that when she began her studies at CHC, she met with Marie Conn, Ph.D., professor of religious studies, and began the College’s own U4U chapter.
Dennis has since graduated, but the club remains, largely due to co-presidents, Krystyna Stopyra ’17 and LeAnn Burke ’17 who share that same mission and passion for the cause.
“Helping underprivileged children in Uganda get an education has always been a dream of mine since I first met a group of Ugandan orphans in high school who were a part of a children’s choir,” says Stopyra.
Currently, the club has close to 20 regular members, all of whom help out with the various initiatives, including co-sponsoring the College’s annual Fair Trade event and hosting Midnight Munchies at least once a semester. Their goal this year is to sponsor two children to go to school in Uganda, one the club is confident it will meet.
Two years after Dennis began U4U, two other students, Becky Bond ’12 and Liz Campbell ’12 embarked on a similar globally inspired venture, starting a club with the goal of ending world hunger by raising money by selling grilled cheese sandwiches at deli nights.
Now, nearly four years later, their club, Feel Good, continues to thrive on campus. It still hosts deli nights at Fitzsimmons Perk, as well as other events where club members sell their unique creations such as the Gooey Griffin, Cinnamon Apple Twist and the Lone Star Griffin, among other delicious sandwiches. And they even deliver.
While coming up with sandwich possibilities is part of the fun, current club co-president Sarah Ganassa ’16, knows that Feel Good’s mission is at the heart of everything the organization does.
“Ending world hunger by 2030, that’s the goal,” she says. “And every sandwich we sell gets us one step closer to achieving that.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14
This story originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Connections.