Students gain experience and insight through university service

Kara Krnacik, Ethan Shafer and Chloe Pimentel

Students who serve on university committees or advisory boards often see it as another piece to their resume, but students currently serving on committees would point to a different reason: gaining experience and perspective connected to their studies.

As part of the university’s shared governance, various departments and offices use committees and advisory boards to provide additional insight and address particular topics or issues facing the university. The committees and boards regularly have dedicated positions for undergraduate and graduate students to ensure student perspectives are part of discussions and decision-making.

Many of the committee positions are filled through appointments made by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, the student government organization, but some are filled through appointments by particular offices or an application process. Information about the committee and the appointment process is available on the University Senate’s website and various department websites.

Kara Krnacik, a master’s student in economics, currently serves on the UOPD Complaint Review Committee. The committee’s work and its processes and policies have given her a more informed perspective as she looks to start a career in public policy and health care.

“It's really interesting to see the inner workings of how policy is made and seeing all the work in the background that goes into making changes,” she said. “It has to take time and there's a lot of work that has to go into making changes to make sure they're fair to everyone involved. I think it's been a really important perspective to have wanting to go into policy.”

Ethan Shafer, a senior studying planning, public policy and management, has found his experience on various committees similarly insightful. As one of two students who served on the Hamilton and Walton Rebuild Committee, he got a behind-the-scenes look at what went into the planning for the new halls.

“I was like, ‘This is so cool.’ I’m working with architects and planners,” he said. “In my major, especially when I was early on and I was like, if I wanted to go into city and regional planning, now have exposure to that.”

Shafer currently serves on the citation appeals board for Transportation Services. In addition to building professional connections, he has found the committee to be a great way to help advocate for students.

“I was able to really talk about bringing an equity lens of what students are going through,” he said. “Having a very direct impact is what I really enjoyed.”

For some students, learning about their area of study and advocating for students goes hand in hand. Chloe Pimentel, a junior studying psychology and Spanish, has found her work on University Counseling Services’ Student Advisory Board aligns with her passion for helping others and her career goal of becoming a therapist.

“I wanted a career where I could make people's lives easier and so that's kind of why I got interested in the advisory board,” she said. “My goal was always to help people.”

Pimentel is the current chair of the student board and does a variety of outreach with campus partners to help connect students with various resources available through University Counseling Services. In addition to the professional experience, she has gained insight into how a counseling center operates.

“I've gotten a lot of mentorship from people who are on staff at UCS,” she said. “I've learned a lot about the process behind counseling centers like how does that function and what are the different roles.”

The time commitments for committees vary, but most require only a few hours per term for the committee to meet. Krnacik and Shafer both said their committee responsibilities only required a few hours a term. However, Pimentel’s role as chair of the student board required a larger number of hours per term.

“I just thought it was a good way to give back to the U of O community,” Krnacik said.

—By Jesse Summers, University Communications