Her Campus Changed My Life: Alexandra's Final Goodbye

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to write my final Her Campus article, but here I am. It took me forever to write this article because as soon as I would write something, I’d stop because I didn’t want it to be over.

I don’t want to be cliche, but Her Campus changed my life. 

A lot of people credit me for creating Millersville’s Her Campus chapter. I’m here to say that it wasn’t me, but I essentially re-launched the chapter and got it to where it is today. So here’s my story all about how my life got twist-turned upside-down.

When I began my freshman year at Millersville, I stumbled upon Her Campus. I emailed the Campus Correspondent for the Millersville chapter and asked her how I could get involved, but she didn’t respond. I emailed her a few months later and asked her again. She responded back and I started to write for the blog section. I wasn’t asked to write often, maybe once every few weeks or so. The only people writing for the site was me and two other girls—seniors—whom I barely knew. To be honest, the site was rarely updated at all. 

So among the three of us, two were about to graduate. That left me as the sole person who was left with the chapter. I was given two options, take over Her Campus Millersville (HCM) by myself with no experience and little idea what on earth I was doing, or let the chapter die. I was too passionate about Her Campus that I didn’t want to let it go. Going into college, I told myself that I was tired of being the shy girl and wanted to make a name for myself on campus. And this was my chance.

You can see which option I took.

So I was left with the daunting task of running this website by myself. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to get into contact with the previous president to figure out the passwords for the social media channels and get directions about what I was supposed to do, but with no avail. And with no idea that Her Campus National was planning to contact me, I went ahead and did everything on my own. 

To prepare, I spent my summer writing articles for the blog section for hours so they would be ready to go live when I needed them to be. I’m pretty sure I wrote almost a semesters' worth of blog articles. Little did I know that there were seven sections on the website. 

I also created a Her Campus Millersville Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest account since I didn’t have access to the old accounts. Little did I know that Her Campus National had the passwords to the proper accounts. And I wasn’t supposed to create new ones. 

Once National finally contacted me in the beginning of August, they gave me with the information I needed. They told me that each section (there were seven at the time) had to be updated once a week to meet requirements and there were social media requirements as well. This was news to me since HCM obviously didn’t meet those requirements at all. 

You can tell I still feel slightly angry that I was completely out of the loop and blind-sided by the expectations and requirements I wasn’t told about by the previous Campus Correspondents.

So I told myself that this time, it’s going to be different. 

I knew I couldn’t run this alone. I needed help. So I designed a flyer to hang around campus. As a sophomore and still knowing very little about how things worked, I taped flyers all over my dorm building (Lenhardt, when it still existed). Little did I know that they were immediately torn down because A) there are only specific designated spaces to hang up flyers and B) the flyers had to be approved by the SMC before they were hung up.

So once again I hung up flyers. 

I got a few emails from girls who were interested. I had an informal meeting with them in The Galley to give them information about what they were supposed to do. Back then there were only a few of us, so I had them write one article per week and I would do the rest since I already had a plethora of articles. I also handled the social media outlets and conversed with National once a week. As a sophomore, I wasn’t that busy so I took it upon myself to do as much as I could.

Within one semester, I brought our chapter to Bronze level. Her Campus National gives chapters rankings at the end of each semester based on requirements met, team members and website and social media traffic. Although Bronze is the lowest ranking, some chapters didn’t have rankings at all. I was so happy that my writers and I were dedicated enough to bring our chapter to this level. 

The next semester I realized it was necessary to establish meetings every other week. This meant I had to give up dance (I discovered my love of hip-hop dancing with Expressions, but had to quit once Her Campus started to take off). I had no idea how to even lead a meeting. I was never a leader. I was a follower. And those who have known me since elementary school can vouch for me. I was shy. I never wanted to draw attention to myself. I didn’t have confidence. I was nervous just talking in front of more than five people because I didn’t want to draw so much attention to myself.

I had to quickly muster up confidence and leadership to know how to lead a meeting. So I came up with agendas before the meetings and rolled with it. Back in the old days of HCM, we held our meetings in the library basement since we couldn’t claim a space of our own. We weren’t an organization on campus, so we couldn’t reserve space.

I also began to realize that I couldn’t do everything. With PR2 that semester (all my PR majors KNOW the excruciating pain of that class), I knew I couldn’t handle doing the social media. So I implemented a social media person to help me out. 

By the end of the Spring 2014 semester, HCM was awarded the Gold level. We had moved up two levels! I thought this was one of the greatest things I ever accomplished. Within one year of leadership, I had managed to bring HCM from having no ranking at all to receiving a gold level. Of course I couldn’t have done it without the growing team.

The next two goals were bringing the chapter to Platinum level and getting HCM to become a recognized organization on campus. The platinum ranking didn’t seem so hard to achieve. However, becoming a recognized student organization on campus was another story.

I had wanted to get the process started earlier than the beginning of my junior year. But there were many issues that I didn't see. The main one was the struggle of figuring out how to start an organization. I didn’t know how. None of my friends knew. I went to Student Senate since they seemed like they were in charge of the administrative side of student organizations. They sent me to the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL) since they are in charge of student organizations. CSIL sent me to Student Senate. Student Senate sent me to CSIL. Again and again and again.

You can see the problem here.

And I know I wasn’t the only one who wanted to start an organization who had problems.

I was sick and tired of the constant run-around of no one giving me the information I needed. I wanted to give up. 

I tried one last time to talk to someone from CSIL and explained my frustration. She understood my concerns and said that CSIL and Student Senate had a huge disconnect and didn’t communicate enough with each other and it needed to be improved. 

Well duh.

All I wanted to do was make HCM a permanent organization so aspiring magazine writers like me could have a place to create and post their work— with the added perks of the ability to advertise for our organization on campus and book rooms for meetings. 

EVENTUALLY I got ahold of the right paperwork. Time to start the process. 

Only I didn’t know the process took a minimum of a year of probationary status as a temporary organization before we could become a permanent organization. That would mean that we couldn’t become a permanent organization until the beginning of my senior year. Just in time for me to almost be leaving.

I also had to implement executive board members for the organization. Thankfully, some members stepped up to take the positions. We all didn’t really know what we were doing, but we wanted to make sure HCM was here to stay.

Since we were a temporary organization, we had the ability to reserve space! So (finally) we started to hold meetings in an actual classroom. It felt so official! Fast-forward to the recruitment meeting for the next semester. We had about 35 people at the meeting. 35! All the current members were so astonished that we couldn’t believe it. 

To be honest, we were also quite nervous because it was overwhelming and we didn’t expect a turnout no where near that great. I was overwhelmed. It also didn’t help that as the semester progressed, about half of those 35 “members” who had deadlines were unreliable. Cue frustration. 

In the end, we still had a great school year and came out on top. I was thrilled to know that HCM reached Pink level, the highest achievement a chapter can earn!

From there everything started to fall into place. We became a permanent organization. Our chapter has been growing with reliable members, we’re planning more events and overall, we’re having more fun. Although we haven’t been on our A-game with deadlines this year, we’re making sure our organization grows internally and our writers genuinely want to come to meetings. 

Most importantly we’ve been focused on sustainability, as my Co-CC and I are about to graduate.

I feel ecstatic that after all this time of creating executive board positions, composing how-to guides, giving advice, building up responsibilities then dispersing them among members, I can step back and watch them all do their thing without any guidance. I know I have done my job when I can see my team members go about their business without help from me. 

I have never been so proud of anything more in my life than with HCM. It has been the most beneficial, life-changing and amazing experience. Looking back, I can’t believe I almost didn’t take the opportunity to grow it. Had I not done what I did, none of the current writers would be where they are now. And that saddens me. Hearing what my writers were saying about HCM—that it’s a place for them to express themselves, that it’s fun, that’s it’s the only thing they’re involved in on campus and they feel like they truly found their place… one writer even got an internship from this—none of them would be touched the way they have had I not made that decision to take on HCM.

And I feel so satisfied knowing I was the one who created this haven for them to go to.

At first, growing HCM was just something that I could add on my résumé. But as time went on, I really wanted to help others with the amount of writing experience I gained. And because I helped others improve their writing and blogging skills, I know I am leaving behind enough strong writers to carry the team and help less experienced writers as well.

People have always asked me if I wanted to go into writing for magazines. At first my answer was yes and my dream job was to work for SeventeenMarie Claire or BuzzFeed in New York City. But I realized that life wasn’t for me. I didn’t want the fast-paced life. Sure, the job would have been awesome with the ability to meet famous people and go to cool after-parties and wear designer clothes. It fulfilled my career aspirations but not my personal aspirations.

I want a life where I can live comfortably in a suburban neighborhood with my fiancé and our family. I want the ability to come home from work everyday to see them and be happy. I want to go through the joys of parenting and attend weekend soccer games or dance recitals. I want to watch my kids (and dog and cat) play around in a grassy backyard, not the concrete jungle of the city. I want to continuously date my husband and go on spontaneous adventures while we keep the flame alive.

I want to love my job, but my home life as well. A job like that wouldn’t leave room for those types of things.

So although a magazine job is no longer my direction, Her Campus still gave me valuable skill sets. Skills that were so valuable that a job recruiter who I talked to said Her Campus is the most valuable thing I have on my résumé. 

I learned how to be a leader. I gained confidence. I’m a more open person. I feel more free to express myself. I refined my writing and editing skills. I understand how SEO (search engine optimization), content marketing and analytics works. I learned to never give up on something you’re passionate about, no matter how many obstacles that are in the way. I learned how to stick to deadlines and be more organized. I built lifelong relationships with the writers who have passed through. I even met the current editor-in-chief of Seventeen.

But mainly I learned how to create something sustainable, which is never a bad thing to learn in this crazy, ever-changing world. 

Thank you to my friends, family, professors, bosses, colleagues, students and everyone who believed in me throughout these three life-changing years of holding this position. It has really been one hell of a ride. 

But more importantly, I couldn’t have done this without everyone who has ever been on the HCM team with me. None of this could have been accomplished without a team. I fully believe HCM will thrive without me there, and I can’t wait to see what you all accomplish within the organization as well as in the real world when you all graduate. Thank you for everything.

Now it's time for me to graduate and enter the real world. 

HCXO, Alexandra N. Blessing