I was an average college freshman. I went to class, made friends, and explored the new town that I had moved to for college. Outside of that, I wasn’t involved in anything. During my high school years, I was involved in every imaginable group and I wanted a break to get my bearings on college life. One day mid-sophomore year I realized that if I wanted my resume’ to have any extracurricular activities on it, I had better start participating in groups on campus.
I competed in Miss Tennessee pageants (although I went to college in Kentucky) and did philanthropy work through being Miss Germantown; I became an ambassador for the College of Business; I joined Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional business fraternity. Between those three activities, the rest of my sophomore year consisted of food-drive, after blood-drive, after clothing-drive, after packing up boxes for the troops, after face painting underprivileged children, etc. During my junior year, I found myself spending all of my spare time researching which local charities needed gloves for the winter, and which elderly people didn’t have anyone to visit them for the holidays.
By the time my senior year came around I had organized a weekly shuttle service for foreign exchange students to take in the winter to the grocery store (since in my small college town those without cars walked). Next I moved on to writing one letter every week to Kroger at the corporate level asking them to donate their “outdated” bread to a local soup kitchen. After I sent 49 letters Kroger agreed. I organized Murray State University’s first annual Professional Day where the members of Alpha Kappa Psi conducted mock interviews for other college students and helped tweak student’s resumes.
In April 2005, a month before I graduated, I was asked by the dean of the College of Business to speak to the student body about what had made me want to accomplish so much during my college career. Although I felt that I could make a difference in the lives of those around me, I laughed and thought about my original intentions: to make sure my resume’ had extracurricular activities on it.
My college experience was much like Adam Smith’s invisible hand game in which the pursuit of selfish interests ultimately leads to a greater collective good. In the same way, my pursuit of doing the greatest good for myself lead to the greater good for the community. No one has ever been looked down upon for wanting to have an impressive resume, yet if I hadn’t needed to fill mine, I wouldn’t have done the majority of the activities I was involved in.
- Emma Wall is an MBA student at the University of Memphis.