Cassie Gross '21
In my sophomore year at BC, I and a group of other students, in conversation with Professor Owens, started working on forming a club focused on International Studies majors and minors. We put in a lot of work that first year, including engaging in many lively discussions between all of us on what we saw the future of the organization looking like. I found it exciting, it felt as if we had the opportunity to make an impact on BC’s community in a tangible, lasting way. It was also a lot of hard work, and there were many moments when I didn’t think we would actually end with a club, that we all might just walk away and give up. We had to write a constitution, apply to become an organization through OSI, plan what kind of organization we wanted to be, figure out the organizational structure, brainstorm event ideas, pick a name and decide how we would recruit members. We ended the year with the International Studies Student Association, ISSA for short, and with high hopes for what the next year would bring.
Fall of 2019 was the first time the club was really a club. We got our own booth at the Student Involvement Fair and started trying to recruit members. I went abroad in the spring, so I only had that first semester of working on it, but I felt that we accomplished a lot in that time. People seemed engaged in our events, we had decent turnout for an organization in its first year, and I felt that people were excited about the ways in which ISSA could benefit IS majors and minors. I was excited about the enthusiasm that we had received, and I was excited to return to it again for my senior year.
Obviously, this year has looked incredibly different in so many ways. None of us expected when we first started working on forming this club that it would be operating fully virtual in its second year. It has brought many new challenges, trying to figure out how to keep up engagement when everyone is Zoom fatigued. To be completely honest, we haven’t found a perfect formula for that yet, but our mentoring program has been a big help for many freshmen thinking about becoming IS majors and sophomores new to the IS program. Additionally, our events over the past two years have been well-attended; we have held student panels giving advice on summer internships, class registration workshops, and two movie nights. In the coming academic year, we plan to focus on expanding our career and alumni programming and our foreign affairs newsletter "The Global Eagle."
It’s important to be critical of mistakes that we make, especially so that we can learn from them. Looking back, there are things I would do differently in my time, both working on creating the organization and as Co-President for the past two years. Being a part of the E-Board was my first leadership role at BC, so naturally, it was a big learning experience. I had a lot of big ideas for what I wanted the organization to be, but part of leading is combining those expectations with the reality on the ground, which has proved to be even truer in this Covid world.
I will leave BC in three months (even if I like to ignore that fact), and I hope that this organization will continue to be a resource for BC students for years to come. Once things open back up again, once going to college feels like going to college again, I hope that there will be students willing to lead this organization and encourage it to grow. ISSA has the potential to be a terrific resource for students, to shape an already flexible major to include what they want to see outside of the classroom. This is not guaranteed though. Even without the difficulties brought on by this year, we are still faced with the reality that, this year, all except one of the founding members of the organization are graduating. This is the first period of significant transition for the organization, and I can only hope that there are other IS students that want to take what we started and run with it. ISSA needs students that feel inspired to lead and to be a resource for their peers.
Applications are open for the E-Board right now. If this sounds like something you would be interested in being a part of, fill out this form and help ISSA to continue as a resource for future students!
Cassie Gross ’21