I am from Toledo, Ohio (... and if you were wondering, no I have never liked Ohio State Football & yes, I get the question all the time - haha!). When entering the University of Michigan my freshman year, I didn’t know anyone. With this, I knew I wanted to get involved on campus with organizations and clubs that interested me and to interact with people from a similar community and background as myself. 

Being African American and given the University of Michigan has a small percentage of black students, I wanted to make sure I connected with my community as much as I could. This caused me to get involved with the Black Student Union, SIBS (Support for Incoming Black Students), and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). I heard of these organizations primarily through Festifall, which is a large outdoor fest where 500+ University of Michigan organizations and student orgs have information and recruiting tables lining the sidewalks. Before attending meetings for these orgs, I was extremely nervous, but after attending I felt extremely accepted.

Centraya posing from her front row season tickets spot at a Michigan Football Game!

I enjoy community engagement, criminal justice reform, community service, and much more! Given this, I joined organizations that catered to my academic needs as well as interest like Telling-IT, NSCS, and WCJ community interaction. I heard about these groups through courses that I took as well as networking and doing my own research, which is really important. NSCS (National Society of Collegiate Scholars) is an organization that impacts campus and local communities through leadership, scholarship, and service. Telling-It (which is part of the RC) is a trauma-informed, resilience-building program that supports the healing and learning needs of school-age youth through the expressive arts. With WCJ, we go into Washtenaw Community Jail and interact with the individuals housed there to inform ourselves with the problems of the criminal justice system and assist them with resources. 

These involvements have also shaped my academic and future goals by allowing me to network and meet people that have careers in fields that I am potentially interested in, which is also a part of finding my place on campus. The University of Michigan and the Residential College offer many opportunities to get involved on campus and find your place and community! No matter where you’re from, your background, your interest, or who you choose to associate yourself and interact with, there are clubs and organizations for you! Here are a few: maizepages.umich.edu/organizations!!

About the author

Centraya Forbes is a sophomore at the University of Michigan, majoring in Psychology with minors in Crime & Justice and Community Action & Social Change. She works as an Admissions Assistant in the Residential College where she is also a student and her language focus is Spanish. She loves to get involved on campus and in the community, as well as interacting with her peers.