@ Home @ Carlson: Finding Community Outside of Class
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Sabel Peterson has made some of her best friends in some of the worst of times.
These “shared hardships,” as she calls them, have been numerous throughout her time in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Minnesota. In those difficult situations, you need to have a community that you can rely on and people who can help push you the extra mile, she says.
“The community aspect of ROTC is really important,” Peterson explains. “You’re not always doing the most enjoyable things, such as 12-mile marches with 35 pounds on your back. But you need the people on your left and right to care about you and reassure you throughout the march.”
Peterson enlisted in the Army as a senior in high school because she both wanted to serve her country and utilize the military benefits to help pay for school. Throughout her time in the service, she’s developed deep relationships with her peers that has made her college experience more enjoyable.
It took time to find that community, however. When she arrived at the University, Peterson says she was down on herself. She didn’t have many friends on campus and needed a way to find “her people” in such a large place. First, she joined a lacrosse team, then ROTC.
“Extracurricular activities really helped me develop strong relationships that I hope to have for the rest of my life,” she says. “It was important for me to find people who are interested in the same things I am.”
In a virtual world, it can be challenging to find that community, Peterson admits. There’s no running into people on campus or walking past a table for a student organization to join. She encourages her fellow students to make the effort to find a community.
“It can be hard if you move away without many friends, but joining extracurriculars is a great way to make campus feel smaller,” she says. “If you find those people that you can really create a bond with and have fun around something you enjoy, that goes a long way.”
The skills she developed in those activities, plus during internships, have translated to her future career as well. After completing an internship last summer, she accepted a full-time position after graduation with LOOP, a digital agency that works with Queens Gaming Collective, a women-led gaming lifestyle company that challenges the diversity and gender equity issues currently facing the industry.
“I find myself drawing a lot of parallels between the skills I used in the military and the ones I used at my internships,” she says. “You need those leadership skills and the ability to develop interpersonal relationships in both ROTC and in business.”