By now, most students have made it to their first few days of class, received their syllabi that’s most likely packed with reading assignments, midterms, papers, finals and quizzes, and have been reunited or united with their new roommates and old friends.
The start of a new school year always brings a fresh excitement to the UC Irvine campus as students both new and old seek out opportunities to get involved with one or many organizations, clubs, groups and academic opportunities that UCI has to offer. With the number of campus organizations totaling more than 600, a staggering new number, ‘Eaters are presented with a huge array of student groups in which to get involved.
Dr. Rameen Talesh, the Dean of Students and the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, is a popular campus figure who tweets frequently and is often greeted by students with a fist bump. Talesh oversees many on-campus resources and organizations, such as the Cross-Cultural Center, the LGBT Resource Center, New Student Programs, the International Center, Veterans Services, Greek Life and Campus Organizations.
Even though his job mandates that he keep an eye on all of these programs, it’s clear that his role provides him with a lot of job satisfaction as Talesh exudes passion toward UCI’s campus life, including clubs that allow students to indulge in fun fantasies or help them move closer to their desired career goals.
A UC Irvine alumnus, Talesh fondly reminisced of his experiences here at UCI and how they helped to shape him into who he is today and ultimately pushed him to pursue a career path in higher education administration. During his time at UCI, Talesh was involved in a few clubs and organizations, such as the freshly founded Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity; served as a Resident Advisor; was an intern in Washington DC with the UCDC program; participated in the Housing Outreach Program, which gave tours of the housing communities; and worked for all four years and played intramural sports every quarter. Are you exhausted just from reading that?
A Balancing Act
The question of getting involved and how much, is something that frequently plagues students’ minds, mostly freshman. Welcome Week’s Anteater Involvement Fair always introduces students to most of the student organizations and clubs with its sea of tables, flyers being thrust into your face as you walk by, and sign-up sheets that get filled with email addresses and phone numbers. Sometimes students put their names on too many lists, which leads to an influx of emails and texts for events and meetings they end up not attending. Although we can’t all be like the Dean, he has seen students successfully juggle six or seven organizations and still be in control of various aspects of their student experience. How do they do it you ask? The key is balance.
The Dean himself had to fail before he learned to succeed by figuring out how to balance everything. His lesson arrived toward the end of his freshman year into the beginning of his sophomore year when he “was involved in too much stuff on the side. You have to learn how to balance and I learned that lesson. I realized that I had to get back on track and get more disciplined in terms of my time management, because I knew that I had to get it together so I wouldn’t lose this great opportunity of being here. I got a good planner, I got multiple colored pens and at the midpoint of sophomore year, my grades started getting better.”
The word “balance” and the act of achieving such a feat is often a daunting task for students, who juggle work, school, family life, relationships, friends, clubs and internships. The Dean’s idea of a well-rounded student was someone who could find that balance with self-discipline and good choices, take care of themselves and their wellness needs, but still challenged themselves and was still thirsty to learn and help their community.
But as much as most of us want to achieve in all of our pursuits, we will inevitably fail at something. But for those failures, Talesh gave a thoughtful piece of advice, which is to be persistent.
“You have to be able to bounce back, you have to be persistent,” he said.
Another word that Dr. Talesh used often: involvement. From our service organizations to our Greek life and our outreach organizations, our campus is a vibrant place in the eyes of Talesh.
“I know people say that there’s not much to do, but I see a lot of things going on. It’s vibrant that we have 600 plus clubs, more than we’ve ever had,” Talesh said. For him, getting involved adds a richness that students who don’t get involved, miss out on.
But he doesn’t encourage that freshmen join 12 different clubs in their first quarter. Rather than signing up for everything that sounds interesting to you, Talesh advocates that students be in a good place, in terms of their personal development and be ready to be involved and committed to what they sign up for and be ready to stretch themselves before they get involved.
For Talesh, the UC Irvine experience is chalked full of richness and is full of opportunities for students to grow, challenge themselves and become excellent leaders.
“Employers want to see that you can be strong in the classroom, but also that you’re able to translate that. Involvements are a way of translating that, whether it’s service, working, or labs, or research, those are ways of activating that,” he said.
Getting involved with on-campus organizations also makes students feel connected, feel like they belong, and feel like they have a support system with people who share a common interest with them as they work toward a common goal.
Some Parting Words
The ever approachable administrator whose passion for students and their well-being can’t be ignored, Dr. Talesh is proud of our student body and the sharp, independent and engaged leaders that come out of UCI. Anteaters should feel lucky to have Dr. Talesh, who is passionate about making our campus a place where we can thrive, achieve, grow and challenge ourselves, on their side.
For students who are hesitant, nervous, doubtful, or just too lazy to get involved, keep these words of Dr. Talesh in mind: “When you come in and when you leave UCI, you should grow in some fashion. Part of it is learning what you stand for, what your values are, how you make ethical decisions, how you learn from your mistakes, and if you’ve done all those things you’ll know what fits with your own value structure.”
So, readers, don’t be afraid to jump into something on campus. Just make sure that it feels right, make sure you feel ready, make sure that you’ll be able to handle it, and if you happen to run into Dean Rameen, give him a fist bump as a token of thanks.