I’m asking some of the people you might encounter on the UMBC campus, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, to answer a few questions about themselves and their experiences. These are their responses.
Name: Heather Kopf
Hometown: Mount Airy, Maryland
Q: How long have you been at UMBC?
A: This is my 10th and final semester at UMBC! I'm both scared and ridiculously excited.
Q: What is your current title (job or student organization position)?
A: The really cheesy and generally awesome Assistant to the President in the SGA, I'm the Vice President of Recruitment for our Panhellenic Association and member of my sorority (which shall remain nameless until the end of February... shhh, it's a secret!)
Q: In 12 words or less, what role(s) do you play on campus?
A: Helpful, enthusiastic and thoroughly hectic energized recruiter (didya get where that came from?) My alternate: Helping UMBC students find their home and niche at UMBC.
Q: What aspect of your UMBC role(s) do you enjoy most?
A: Oh my gosh, I love it all. Truly. And that sounds ridiculous, but I love these positions when it's fun and I love it when it's hard, because it provides a challenge for me, and I love challenges. I am such a people person, so I love getting to know so many people through these positions. I meet so many new girls who I think would be wonderful additions to our Greek community to expand our academics, community service, and leadership capabilities. Being our VP of Recruitment this year, I've been able to extend their invitations to them for Greek membership and seeing the looks on their faces when they receive these makes the hard work and stress worth it. It has been one thing I've found at UMBC that makes me totally and completely happy inside. I live to please, it's what I do. I also get to meet so many other students working with the SGA and love getting to hear how passionate they are about changing some injustices of our community. One of my favorite things is getting to see others grow in their roles. Being here for five years, I've gotten to see students come in as freshman, take on these opportunities and really flourish and grow into these amazing people, it's really exciting. And I love looking at things the SGA has done, that I've been blessed to be apart of and saying, "Wow, look, WE DID THAT! We made that happen!" All the positions I've had since my freshman year have really made me grow into the person I am today. I really enjoyed learning about myself, what I do well and what I don't, and finding new tools to use when I'm out in the real world. My friend Catie told me she has probably learned more from being a leader than in some of the classes she takes, and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with her.
Q: What is the most important or memorable thing you learned in college/have learned at UMBC?
A: I've learned A LOT being in college and I want to break this down by year, bear with me:
Freshman Year: Don't be afraid to speak up. I started out as a First Year Ambassador to our SGA Senate as a freshman and was generally very quiet (for those who know me, you know this seems impossible, but I was). But starting out in this role taught me to trust my instincts and speak up, because if you don't then who will?
Sophomore Year: Get involved and don't be afraid to try new things! I rushed my sorority the fall of this year and I never even considered Greek Life as an option for my college career. It has definitely been a growing experience and something I will cherish for the rest of my life, it was one of my best decisions in college!
Junior Year: Know your limits, don't try and take on the world. If you know me, you know I try to do about 10,000 things at once, I love to take on EVERYTHING I can muster. I just really like to be busy! But during this year I came under some hardships and learned that I really needed to step back from everything and take care of myself and my academics for a while. It was hard to do, hard to withdrawal a bit from the world, but it was something I needed to do in order for me to move forward. Another big learning experience.
Senior Year: Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and you come first so take care of YOURSELF. I can be very stubborn and feel that I can conquer anything (Junior year ring a bell?). But this year was very hard for me personally, mentally, physically, and socially. I realized I can't do everything on my own, and that is OK. I thought by asking for help that would make me seem weak and incompetent, but what I learned was that it just made me human. This was definitely a year I took to really learn about myself and try and better myself.
SUPER SENIOR Year: Make the most out of every experience and never give up! My very last year (at least my mother hopes so!) and I want it to be the most memorable one! I've learned that most experiences are what you make of it, so if you make it the best that you can, it will be positive, and visa versa. While keeping all of the above in mind, I've gotten back into being super involved and have learned my limits, learned my strengths, and have vowed to make this last semester my very best. It's my last chance, I can't slack now, not when I've worked so hard to get here!
Q: Complete this sentence: "I am a big fan of __________."
A: Coffee... lists... crafty things... old movies... friends and family: my support system... without it, I would NOT be standing right now.
Q: Do you have any UMBC stories, little-known facts about UMBC, favorite spots on campus, or anything else you’d like to share?
A: Honestly, I could probably write a book about my life at UMBC. Half the stuff that happened, you just could not make up, but that is what has made it interesting and I'll always remember my time here at UMBC.
Memories, hmmm... One birthday, my roommate and sorority sister filled our ENTIRE room with balloons, it was SO funny to come back to, there were balloons EVERYWHERE in our building for days! When the tragedy at Virginia Tech occurred, the whole UMBC community gathered and brought this amazing support to each other and the VT community. That day, the power went out at UMBC and no one really knew what was going on except for hear-say. But hearing the stories from other students and friends was something I will never forget. And well, lets not get me started on the snow storm last February... while it SUCKED because I broke my ankle and didn't get a chance to get to urgent care for a week and a half, some of those in SGA and I built this snow castle in the courtyard of Walker Building 2... mail boxes we used to build the bricks of snow remained in my apartment for weeks!
A place not many people remember (or were at UMBC for) was the Hillcrest building. I thought it was the coolest building and had SO much history. Of course, it had many tall tales to go along with it and embellishing those stories just made the thought of the building more fun. I remember freshman year, my friends and I walked up and sat in front of it after midnight breakfast and I offered up my orange juice to whatever ghost may still be lurking in the building. Reports were that it was haunted but I never got to investigate before they tore it down! (Yeah, I'm one of THOSE nerds) I was extremely sad to see the building go, especially because it housed SO much of our UMBC history and thought it deserved to be preserved. But I feel lucky to have experienced the building while it was here and be able to be a part of its history, even for that short amount of time.
Another place I love is the hill that overlooks the athletic field. My friend William showed it to me one day and it has remained one of my favorite places to go and just sit and think... and of course do silly photo-shoots with my friends. I also love the SGA office. I've had SO many fun experiences and moments in there that make me laugh every time I think of them!
All in all, my experience at UMBC has been an adventure! And as cliche as it sounds, it has definitely been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. But like I said, they have given me life lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life, and for that I am very grateful.
(Apologies for "War and Peace")