CI Students Engage, Enrich and Excel

Co-curricular programs at CI provide learning opportunities that inspire personal and civic leadership growth in a diverse and complex world.

You certainly can’t say CSU Channel Islands Senior Tanya Yancheson isn’t busy. Yancheson earns top grades as a Communication major while managing multiple roles as the president of a community service organization, founder of a women’s leadership group, member of a student honor society, vice chair of the Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Board, and senior community advisor for CI’s largest student residence hall. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

LEAP students visit middle school

“These involvement opportunities saved my life,” Yancheson said. “Through the relationships I have formed, the people I have met, and the encouragement I have received, I have been able to grow and truly find the person I am and want to be.”

Yancheson is one of many CI students who found fulfillment and inspiration in student involvement outside the classroom. CI offers students more than 50 clubs and organizations, ranging from recreational and academic clubs to service, social and special-interest groups. Staying true to CI’s mission tenets, many student organizations have a community service, multicultural or civic engagement component. Students join together to sail, hike and surf, participate in intramural sports, volunteer in the community, improve the environment, or work to better student life on campus.

CI Lacrosse club

“We call it co-curricular programming rather than extracurricular,” said Dr. Wm. Gregory Sawyer, Vice President for Student Affairs. “That’s because our student programs and services are intentionally designed to support the curriculum and academic experiences outside the classroom. As a result, we have a student body that is well-informed, socially adaptive and politically and culturally astute. Through these cocurricular programs, our students have learned to become effective leaders and productive citizens.”

Yancheson works with a student volunteer program called “LEAP” (Leaders in Educational Awareness Program), which visits area schools and also hosts K-8th grade students on campus, exposing them to college life and inspiring them to pursue higher education. As president of the student service group Rotaract, she supports and raises money for local people in need.

“It is hard not to be inspired when you see 8th graders who arrived at CI thinking college was out of their reach light up with new confidence that they can do it,” Yancheson said. “It’s inspiring to put together an annual carnival for the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo and get hugs from third graders for donating money for needed supplies.”

CI intramural sports

The Division of Student Affairs, through various clubs and organizations, provides numerous student events throughout the year, ranging from luaus, formal dances, talent shows and karaoke nights to concerts, theatrical performances and camping excursions. Personal and professional development activities include leadership retreats and career, internship and graduate school fairs. Students can also find a variety of support services and groups to assist veterans, minorities, and individuals with disabilities or special needs.

Administrators like Sawyer know that an engaged student is more likely to succeed. He estimates that approximately 50 percent of students participate in some form of campus co-curricular activity, while roughly 12 percent participate regularly in leadership, service, sports clubs and organizations.

CI LEAP students

“Research shows that if students participate in meaningful and intentional co-curricular programs, they will earn better grades, continue to matriculate through the university, develop more meaningful relationships and graduate,” said Sawyer. “CI students have a unique sense of belonging and University pride that is uncommon in such a relatively young campus.”

He references CI’s status as the reigning recipient of the California Student University Spirit Award for the past two years at the California Higher Education Student Summit (CHESS) held annually in Sacramento. CI competed against students from other CSU campuses that are significantly larger than Channel Islands – and were voted the most spirited.

CI Sailing club

“We may be one of the smallest campuses in the CSU system, but we have a great deal of spirit and pride,” he said. “Our students are not only critical thinkers and outstanding scholars, but they are also excellent leaders and stewards of our University community and the community at large. After all, that’s the CI Way!”