Welcomania: Durham Tech students get involved in campus groups

Sep. 04, 2013 @ 05:05 PM

As snow cones melted in the summer heat and Robin Thicke tunes blasted from loudspeakers, Durham Tech students visited the main campus plaza Wednesday to sign up for student organizations and learn how to get involved.

Casey VanAlstyne, the 23-year-old president of Durham Tech’s Student Senate, tried to save his melting grape snow cone that afternoon while explaining that there are 12 active clubs at Durham Tech, and the Senate alone is full of different ages, ethnicities and majors.

Fueling campus involvement may not be easy for a commuter campus, some DTCC student organization members said, but dozens of students showed up Wednesday to find their niche.

This is VanAlstyne’s first full semester at Durham Tech, but he’s already student president. His eight Senate members are looking to tackle campus-wide issues this fall, such as finding volunteers and donations for the campus food pantry and maintaining the tobacco-free mantra of Durham Tech.

“I’d like to think of us as the voice of the students,” he said.

Tents lined the plaza, and students grabbed pamphlets or cooled off in the shade.

To the hip-hop bass of Missy Elliott, members of Unleashed, the dance organization on campus, jumped and rolled their hips as they showed off their moves along the sidewalk.

At the Unleashed booth, Shayla Kilpatrick sat in the shade and pointed to the list of sign-ups they’d gathered after only a few hours. She’s a 25-year-old associate in arts student at DTCC looking to transfer to a state university to study marketing.

But this group of dancers, despite busy class schedules, manages to practice three times a week.

“The group is very energetic,” Kilpatrick said. “For me, it’s to stay in shape because I am getting older…it also builds confidence.”

Rachel Boushell, president of the Amigos Unidos Spanish Club this year, sat among flags of Hispanic countries. She has studied Spanish throughout high school and now at DTCC, and she said she’s going to become fluent for her future career.

Boushell is part of the DTCC pre-nursing program, and she said knowing Spanish will allow her to communicate with Hispanic patients. During the club’s meetups, they practice speaking back-and-forth.

“Just taking classes doesn’t really cut it,” she said.

Beneath another tent, stacks of The Final Draft, DTCC’s annual literary publication jam-packed with poetry and prose, lined one of the tables.

After many of The Final Draft’s organizers transferred to another school, The Final Draft was reenergized in 2011 at the hands of dedicated students.

The 80-page book full of literary pieces that they published in 2012 grew to more than 100 pages in 2013.

“It’s an expression of the spirit of the campus,” said Andrew McCrae, a 20-year-old DTCC associate in arts student and The Final Draft’s fiction editor. He said this serves as an outlet for Durham Tech’s creativity, and students and faculty both have submitted their works.

“That’s an opportunity that people don’t get, especially if they’ve been out of college for a few years,” McCrae added. “… We get to express a little piece of our souls that isn’t crushed by homework.”