A personal story: Journey program help students realize their potential

Katie Dugan

In the past few months, more than 700,000 students had submitted their applications to universities of their choice. In a cluster of recommendation letters, SAT scores and academic transcripts, admissions offices are starting to look more heavily on one other aspect of a prospective student- leadership and involvement. Universities are starting to look for the personality warmth, energy, and character that SAT scores and high grades can’t always reflect. Colleges, much like future employers, are putting a larger emphasis on what the student can bring to their institution or business based off of background experience instead of just a GPA number. Leadership alone can now make or break an application.

Suffolk University is certainly not the “traditional” college. Instead of a peaceful, quiet campus with rolling hills of green grass, we have a campus of skyscrapers and the sounds of honking horns and construction. For me, Suffolk University has redefined the stereotypical college experience.

Suffolk’s multitude of extracurricular programs made available to students are what shape the university. From greek life to religious organizations, the vegetarian society, radio show and the Student Government Association, there is something here at Suffolk for everyone.  If you want to leave college with more than a piece of paper, get involved in something. You will get more out of your college experience and major with hands-on practice than just sitting in a classroom. The rewarding experiences you will gain from participating will stay with you long after graduation day and trickle into your professional future.

One club I always push to incoming freshmen is the Journey Leadership Program. Journey is an organization on campus whose mission is to instill leadership qualities into its participants. The very first program I participated in was a three-day retreat in New Hampshire for level one Journey students. Up until this trip, I hadn’t known what it meant to be a leader. A leader in my mind was confident, extroverted, and capable of anything.

I was mistaken.

One thing from this trip that I will never forget was when one of the leaders told us about a woman named Kitty Genovese, who was raped and stabbed to death in 1964 outside of her apartment in Queens. Dozens of people claimed they heard Kitty’s cries for help, but no one tried to save her. Our leader wanted us to realize that being a leader meant speaking up and being proactive in situations outside your comfort zone. I left this retreat with a completely new outlook on life. I remember feeling an insurmountable amount of hope and positivity about the next four years. As someone who struggles with anxiety, one of the most crippling aspects is constantly feeling incapable. The idea that I was in control of my own success and happiness was infinitely healing.

That trip was the catalyst to dozens of remarkable experiences I had with Journey.  Being involved with this program continues to change my life and my outlook. This program has made me more confident, generous, and open-minded than I was when I started college. My advice to incoming freshmen would be to mold your college experience into something that will make you a better version of yourself for you and your future employer. Don’t let your insecurities prevent you from the person you’ve always wanted to be. Whether it’s the Journey Program, a sorority or debate team, do yourself a favor a get involved on campus.