The ideas expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The New Courier.

Becoming Your Best Self

by Anna Kubiak
February 26, 2021

As COVID-19 swept away normal life under a haze of health restrictions, I was only one of many people who began to restructure their approach to the world around them. Being an online student who lives an hour away from campus, I was able to adjust quickly to the changes issued by GCC, however, all of the other outlets of self-expression I enjoyed pre-pandemic were closed due to safety concerns. Surprisingly, this opened doors that I never expected. The shift in perspective came about as the world seemed to implode on itself while at the same time sheltering each of us in place. I felt like I was bubbling over with things I was going to do when we “got back to normal”, but GCC offered the unique opportunity to push towards my goals despite the growing challenges outside my door. The activities they offer span from painting to cooking to joining a variety of clubs to 24-hour challenges to informative virtual major exploration days. Each engagement had different goals at their heart.

My journey towards student engagement began at the New Courier newspaper which opened my eyes to the value of community in college. I began reading the G-DUB Chronicles emailed each week, looking for where I fit in instead of where I didn’t. While not all of the activities offered piqued my interest, I pushed myself to do things I never would have before and ended up enjoying myself. My misconceptions about how student engagement would affect me melted away as I came to understand how welcoming the community at GCC really is. Each person I met, from teachers to tutors to department directors to mentors, were all so kind and helpful. They introduced me to a community of people with the best interests of students at heart. It was a realization that I could have had when I first enrolled in the ACE program if I hadn’t been so busy avoiding student engagement. I had to be prompted by a global pandemic to realize that GCC offered personal growth as well as a good education.

Due to COVID I had the opportunity to participate in virtual engagement, which allowed me to be more present, whereas before an hour drive was just too far for student engagement. From virtual painting to cooking contests to club meetings I have been able to achieve a level of personal growth that I had given up on when the pandemic hit, and I have learned life lessons of dedication, community, and fun that I will carry with me for a long time. With places to express my ideas and goals, I was able to grow myself towards tangible outcomes that are benefiting both my resume and my overall experience.

My personal experience with student engagement reflects a culture within the college that I hope others will find as well. One that brings out the best in each of us despite the obstacles we face. GCC offers opportunities for each of its students that cover a wide range of interests, from photography to sports to games and much more. I encourage students to utilize the resources that are available to them by becoming engaged in their college community. You really don’t know what’s out there until you give it a try and while it may be uncomfortable to reach out or awkward to try something new, GCC will be there to help you on the road towards being your best self.