Singing, gaming and everything in between: Student organizations lead to lifelong connections

More than 1,300 student organizations at Ohio State create skill-building opportunities

By: Chris Booker

Published on November 13, 2017

It’s not unusual for Ruba Elzein and JoJo Otseidu to break into song. They are members of the Ohio State of Mind, a co-ed a cappella group at The Ohio State University. It is unusual to serenade the University Board of Trustees and Ohio State’s top leadership – but sing they did.

“I think it was a really cool experience. I think being a part of the board of trustees meeting isn’t an opportunity that a lot of students get to have,” said Ruba Elzein, a fourth-year zoology major and the current president of the Ohio State of Mind. “I’m really glad that being a part of the group has allowed me to view how that process works a little bit and also allowed us to showcase what we do at Ohio State.”

The performance was part of a showcase of student organizations at the trustees’ November meeting. Student success was one of the themes the trustees focused on this month.

There are more than 1,300 student groups at Ohio State to help students make connections and achieve greater success through those connections.

“[Ohio State of Mind] is all about being able to come together as a smaller community of Ohio State and share our passion for music in a way that not a lot of students get to have during their class schedule,” Elzein said. “We're entirely student run, so we make all of our own music and arrange all of our own stuff.”

Senior Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston, whose office oversees student organizations, said these groups are a serious undertaking.

“It’s a pretty developed opportunity for them. They have to have a constitution, they have to have a faculty or staff mentor/adviser and they have to have five or six of their best friends who decide to start that organization with them,” Adams-Gaston said. “And then they can grow from there.”

And grow they do. Student organizations at Ohio State open doors and opportunities.

“Being in a student organization has definitely had a very positive impact on my life as a student,” said Otseidu, a third-year food science and technology major.

“I had the chance to do things like travel to New York City, perform on stages with a lot of different people, a lot of different diverse groups, and sort of just enrich myself in different cultures like a cappella culture,” he said.

The Ohio State of Mind has been a part of campus culture since 2010, and a cappella is a rich college tradition. The student organization devoted to eSports is a little newer – but continues to bloom on campus.

“We are both a social and competitive club in the sense that eSports is really whatever you want to make it. If you want to try really hard and strive to be the best, to be where we have professionals in the area, you can do that,” said Becca Danik, a third-year computer science and engineering major and the president of eSports Initiative. “But if you just want to hang around play the games with some friends and meet new people, we host events to facilitate that, too.”

They may be playing games, but the group is not joking around. They have teams that compete among the elite around the country.

“They’re really good,” Danik said. “Our Counter-Strike team two years ago was top four in the nation. And the League of Legends team is constantly finishing in the top. We do so many leagues and they're really good in all of them.”

Adams-Gaston said the networks students are building at Ohio State often continue throughout their lives.

“I would say for sure those connections tend to be lifelong relationships but the skills that the students are learning are also lifelong skills. They’re learning about being in organizations, learning how to speak out and write well, how to work in teams. They’re learning how to think critically and how to problem solve.”

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Chris Booker
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