From Bibles to baking, clubs connect students

Members of Half Baked Club, founded by Sarah Blackburn, enjoy cookies.

Sarah Blackburn | Courtesy

During college, finding a niche through organizations such as Greek life, athletics or student-run clubs is a common student experience.

Clubs are more than just extracurricular activities; they’re the heart and soul of campus life and provide students with opportunities to connect, grow and make a difference both on and off campus. Establishing and maintaining club communities isn’t easy, but institutions like VWU show students how effective student engagement through clubs can truly enhance the college experience.

If a student has an idea that may bring people together through shared interests, that student has the ability to begin a club. It all starts with a group of students who identify a need or passion within the campus community. From there, it’s all about navigating the administrative hoops, drafting a plan and finding advisors to help with the process. The hard work pays off when a club comes to life. 

Senior Sarah Blackburn can attest to the rewards of this process, as she organized the Half Baked Club in 2021.

“I’ve been with the club since I created it in 2021 as a freshman,” Blackburn said. “This club has been my little baby, and I’ve been running it for the last three years, but sadly I graduate this upcoming May.” Blackburn is the current student leader of Half Baked Club and is proud of the progress it has made since its creation.

First-year Mikayla Westra and junior Claudia Caruthers decorate personal cakes.

Sarah Blackburn | Courtesy 

“I noticed there was no existing baking club and decided ‘that’s a sin’ and made my own. Learning later that there’s simply no basic cooking/baking classes at all at VWU made me more determined to spread awareness regarding the club,” Blackburn said. “While we were small my first two years, this last year we’ve averaged 25-30 people per meeting.” Blackburn hopes the club can continue to grow through fun traditions and collaboration with other clubs after her departure from VWU in May.

Clubs offer a variety of experiences for students. Whether students are into academics, culture or community service, there’s something for everyone. From Half Baked Club to Black Student Union (BSU), students have endless opportunities to explore their interests and connect with like-minded peers. 

“Black Student Union is a space where I can express myself and be myself. I joined this club because I attend a PWI [Predominantly White Institution] and wanted to connect with other black students,” sophomore Madison Hayes said. “I made long-lasting friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

Although all student organizations are approved by the Office of Student Activities, some student-led groups are formed under the support of various offices. For example, Bible Community is a group supported by Campus Ministries, but isn’t considered a student organization.

Sophomore Breana Brooks has been a member of the rapidly growing Bible Community since last semester. Similarly to Blackburn, the group fulfills personal goals and passions for Brooks.

“I am passionate about [Bible Community] because Christianity is something I have and always will devote my life to, and it means a lot to me,” Brooks said. “I have been a part of this club for about four months now, and it originated from just casual Bible study with a few friends. We all then decided that we should invite more people and create a bigger community of other believers on campus.”

Despite the group’s large number of attendees now, it does not receive the benefits of being an approved student organization, such as funding or hosting a table at the Student Involvement Fair.  

With countless student-led clubs on campus, the Office of Student Engagement is a beneficial tool for students, as it helps students navigate the ins and outs of club creation, as well as innovate and grow clubs. Professors are always there to lend a helping hand and serve as advisors for various clubs. This supportive environment empowers students to take risks, pursue their passions and make an impact on campus. 

To start a student organization, clubs must first be approved by the Office of Student Engagement. In order to be approved, clubs should have five or more members, a mission statement, a faculty or staff advisor, an executive board and a constitution. If a student’s club meets these requirements, they are invited to fill out the student organization request form on the VWU website. A list of current organizations is available on the school website for students to explore groups.

Carey Seay | Marlin Chronicle

By Kylon Lewis