SENIOR COLUMN: Do it for love, not for the resume


Helmi Henkin, Photo submitted

Helmi Henkin

“Do you ever sleep?” is the most common reaction I get when people find out how many organizations I am involved in and how many leadership roles I juggle. I have a note on my phone that lists everything I do because it’s difficult for me to explain without forgetting something.

Throughout the past four years, I have been able to use my diverse range of interests and fervent passions for leadership and helping others to better my community, and I can say without a doubt that my extracurricular activities have by far been the most rewarding experiences that I have had at The University of Alabama. Everything I have done was because I enjoyed it, not because I thought it was something that would impress other people, and I believe I got more out of it because of that attitude.

It is easy to describe how my advocacy work has shaped my college experience and my personal growth. Being a founding member of Not On My Campus, UA’s first student sexual assault awareness organization, gave me the chance to be a part of creating a space for important change to happen. I raised awareness about mental health on campus through countless hours tabling and presenting to student groups of all types.

Soon, I sought out opportunities to promote mental health off campus as well, and have been able to lobby for mental health at the state capitol, host a weekly support group, serve on NAMI Alabama’s board of directors and various youth advisory councils for non-profits nationwide, volunteer at walks across the state and raise over $5000 for suicide prevention research and programming. Volunteering as a clinic escort blossomed my passion for reproductive justice and led to me becoming the founding treasurer of an abortion fund and the president of a club that promotes related causes such as comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives.

The experiential learning opportunities I have had over the past four years have enriched my life more than I could have originally imagined. My research labs let me interact with people across the lifespan, from persons with dementia participating in art therapy to fifth-graders participating in a behavioral intervention. Studying abroad brought me to France and summer internships brought me to Bali and London, where I made amazing friends and memories and immersed myself in the cultures of places far from home. From teaching French to local elementary schoolers to hanging out with children at Brewer Porch, I have gotten to interact with people from varied backgrounds and apply first-hand what I learn in class to create a positive impact on the world around me.

Many of my extracurricular activities do not fit neatly in a certain category, but they are all united by my love for making friends and making lives better. As an officer in Crimson Kindness, I played a role in facilitating our initiatives meant to brighten people’s days. Being the chief of Her Campus let me give our writers an outlet for self-expression. I cannot quite explain how I ended up becoming this year’s Marketing Director for CrimsonHacks, but I appreciated the chance to organize an event dedicated to 24 hours of creating something meaningful. Even the more random experiences I have had in college, like acting in a show for the engineering theatre group, auditioning for College Jeopardy in Los Angeles and visiting Antarctica, have all been invaluable and have given me more smiles to remember when I think about my undergraduate career.

The best part of the past four years was everything I did outside of class, and I made sure that I did not take a single moment for granted. Extracurricular activities are the best way to personalize your campus experience and find your home at Alabama, no matter where you are from.

When considering what organizations to join or positions to apply for, think about whether you have the right motive for doing so. It is not worth participating in something just because you think it would be a good resume builder. Being a member or an officer in an organization takes time and energy, and you will benefit so much more from your involvement if you have a vested interest in the work you do and the skills you build.

As I look back on my college experience, I realize it is true that you regret the things you did not do more than the ones you did, and I am grateful that I said yes to new opportunities whenever possible.

Helmi Henkin is a senior majoring in psychology.