"To Those Considering SSU" by Luke Gover
With the end of the semester quickly approaching, the sudden realization that I will be a graduate lurks right around the corner. Unlike most of my peers, I decided to add some extra courses to my fall semester in order to graduate in the fall instead of the spring. Without the pandemic, I would likely have extended my under-graduate education one more semester, something I’m sure is hurting the university’s budget along with a decline in freshman applicants. I have also had multiple high school graduates ask for my opinion on not just SSU, but whether going to a university would seem worth-while. My answer as of today would be conditional upon whether the campus opens up or not, something that will not be decided until much further down the road. If the university remains closed such as it is currently, I would not find the investment in the university experience (or lack thereof) worth it all. Earning some credits at a local community college, or even taking a gap year if you know you have the dedication to return to your education are wiser decisions for incoming freshmen. I figured all I could do for these youths is tell them about my experiences at SSU, and hope they glean an understanding from that. So, if you fit the bill and are out there or if you enjoy long stories, here ya go:
I entered SSU as a first generation political-science major in August of 2017. Emphasis on the first generation part because even though my two oldest siblings are college graduates, I was one of the first people in my family to enter a university as a true freshman. I felt like I was living the life that only existed on television, with the dorms and the cafeteria and the shenanigans. Truly, my freshman year was my favorite year of them all (this is the part where I shamelessly dote over how I met my girlfriend of over three years now). With all that good-natured fun mentioned, I made sure to put in the effort on my end. During freshman orientation I walked right into the recreation center and asked for a job application, to which I was blessed to have received a position in the fitness center. This was just the start of a long string of on-campus jobs that I had. As a political science major I naturally had an interest in student government, so I went to their first information meeting. Later I decided to leave my position at the recreation center to pursue a position with student government. I ran unopposed for the seat as the Senator of Social Sciences, an easy win. The summer before I entered SSU I was a mover at Two Men and Truck, where I worked long hours for little pay but (as we have all said at one point) I needed the money for college! I had no desire to return there so I put my foot in every door regardless of whether it was open (yes, it hurts sometimes) and snagged a much better internship. To the university’s credit, I got the position by going to their job fair and approaching the loneliest table I could find, just to ask for a position in my hometown of Sacramento. Also in a strange turn of events I got another job at the recreation center as a Low Ropes Course Facilitator.
Sophomore year I came back with great excitement to put in some real progress on my degree. As a student senator I received priority registration meaning I could basically get any class I wanted. I started knocking out upper-division Political Science courses, where I met a core group of friends that I keep in close contact with presently. Perhaps my busiest year, I felt as if I was always in and out of my dorm. On top of my duties as a senator, my shifts at the recreation center, and my classes, I decided to join the Model United Nations Club on campus. I had hardly any idea what I was getting myself into, but I did not regret my decision. In the spring we flew to New York city to compete internationally as a team. Prior to that I did not once get near an aircraft, so this experience was very new for me. Our team took home the highest honor in the competition, the outstanding delegation award! While I had enjoyed my time as a student senator, I really wanted something more personable. Not to mention the difficulties of being a student senator, such as fighting for budget cuts on lavish get-togethers funded by student fees. I can distinctly remember being told “the funds are already allocated Luke, just enjoy it”. I didn’t enjoy it, and my efforts for change proved futile, so I picked up my marbles and left. I decided to apply for a Residential Advisor position in hopes I could use my experience on campus to help others. While the application process was rigorous, I was lucky enough to be offered a position. I had finished my sophomore year with most of my degree finished and I still felt hungry, so I went for seconds. I declared a double major in Economics with hardly any knowledge of what would be required of me.
Junior year I got my own dorm to myself, something I again could only dream of having. I spent more time that year in the residential halls than I did any other year due to being an RA, but I was so happy to help out students whenever possible. I typed up my Political Science senior thesis in the fall and began to cut my teeth on Economics in the Spring. I can still remember reading about COVID-19 over winter break, obviously without any knowledge of how it would affect the world we live in today. Economics was difficult, far more difficult than Political Science (at least for myself) although it felt more rewarding. I still spent time with my Political Science friends as I was a member of MUN, and later was elected president of the club. That became almost meaningless and classes became even more challenging when the campus finally moved to an online format in March. The chancellor cancelled all non-essential travel for CSU’s, so the competition our club worked so hard for was scrapped. I finished out the year with some difficult decisions to make.
Sonoma State University has some of the best on campus housing a public university can offer, and I spent my first three years living there. Although without an RA position to return to, and no real reason to live close to campus as classes were online, I decided to live at home for my final semester as a Senior. I figured with an average amount of units and no extracurricular activities that it would be nearly a semester off for me, but I was wrong. After submitting my graduation application my advisor asked me to become a tutor for the Economics department, and I happily accepted. While few students showed up to my office hours, I was always extremely happy to assist them. With the semester ending, I can say, without a doubt, I owe a big thanks to SSU for nearly every experience I had over the past three and a half years. Of course, the experience is only what you make of it. The opportunities do not always come to you, and you have to put yourself out of your comfort zone to take full advantage of what the campus has to offer.