Commencement 2014: For Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Senior, Extracurricular Activities Made The College Experience

May 20, 2014


The courses senior Elizabeth Plowman has taken while at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have, of course, been important. She’s set to graduate on May 24 with dual bachelor’s degrees in business management and economics and a minor in psychology, and she’s already accepted a fellowship and scholarship to attend William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia.

But there’s another side to Plowman’s resume from the past four years that has had at least as much impact on her future as her course work: her affiliation with numerous philanthropic, service, and academic groups on campus.

Plowman, of Gorham, Maine, is a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, the Women’s Mentor Program, the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society, the Epsilon Delta Sigma management honor society, and two leadership honor societies, Phalanx and White Key. She’s also held down several jobs in the Rensselaer Union including a management position in which she oversaw other student workers.  

“Going into college, I never expected to be part of a service fraternity, but Alpha Phi Omega (APO) has been my favorite part of RPI,” she said. “They are the closest group of friends I’ve ever had, and they really are the reason I loved going to school here. I almost always have enjoyed my classes, but I didn’t feel like I really belonged anywhere until I joined APO. I do not think I would have done as well as I did here without APO, and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have given me.”

Alpha Phi Omega is a service fraternity that runs services on campus like a lost and found and a book exchange and also holds fundraisers for charity. Plowman held the roles of president and service vice president for a year. While she was a junior she ran a date auction that raised $1,200 for the charity Clothe-A-Child, APO’s largest single fundraising event.   

Plowman says the skills she’s developed at Rensselaer, both in and outside of class, will help her find success as she continues on to another rigorous academic program and a future career in the legal field. “I think my classes were challenging and taught me the skills that will help me succeed in law school and a legal career,” she said. Citing the “work-intensive” nature of her undergraduate studies, Plowman said she feels ready to tackle law school: “I think I now have better time management and study skills than my soon-to-be peers.”

She also gained valuable experience through her extracurricular activities. “My work outside of class, most importantly with Alpha Phi Omega, gave me the leadership experience I needed to get into and hopefully do well in law school.”

Plowman advises incoming freshmen to be open to change and new experiences. “Don’t be afraid to change your major. You should enjoy what you’re working on; it’s preparing you for your future.”

She adds: “Don’t be scared to try out a bunch of different clubs and activities until you find what really suits you.  As a freshman you’ll meet a group of friends almost instantly; that’s great and you should enjoy it, but don’t be afraid to break off and try your own thing, too.”

Press Contact Emily Donohue
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