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Student clubs create a sense of belonging for Oregon State’s distance learners

Adrian Gonzalez is pursuing an online zoology degree with Oregon State and takes part in a student club from a distance.

Adrian Gonzalez is pursuing an online zoology degree with Oregon State Ecampus, and he’s a member of the student-run Wildlife Conservation Club.

Conservation club reminds online zoology student ‘that I am not alone’

April 28, 2021

One of the inherent challenges of learning at a distance is exactly that — the distance. Thankfully, Oregon State University specializes in making online students feel connected to the broader university community no matter where they live.

It starts in the online classroom in Oregon State Ecampus courses. And for those folks who want an enhanced “student life” experience, OSU offers nearly 100 student-led clubs and organizations that are open to distance learners.

The benefits of joining a club from afar are real. Just ask Adrian Gonzalez. He’s pursuing his online zoology bachelor’s degree with Ecampus, and within a month of starting his studies, he joined OSU’s Wildlife Conservation Club.

The club not only allows Gonzalez to build connections with other Oregon State students, but it also feeds into his long-term career goals.

“I really want to make an impact about wildlife conservation awareness in the community where I live,” he said.

To learn more about what it’s like to be in a student-led club from a distance, read this short Q&A with Gonzalez.

How did you learn about the Wildlife Conservation Club, and what made you want to join?

“I found out that online students could be members of OSU clubs and organizations when I was completing my online orientation with Ecampus. I am majoring in zoology and told myself that I should be active with similar types of organizations.”

What’s been the most engaging part of your experience?

“In general, the online Oregon State experience has been great because I get to connect with other students. In my club, we meet online and get to talk about wildlife conservation. Soon we’re having a guest speaker from the El Paso Zoo Society. We even have intentions, post-pandemic, of organizing an in-person conservation retreat so we can engage with each other in person.”

What’s your advice for Ecampus students who want to join a student organization?

“Do your research about the many clubs and organizations you can get involved in. It’s up to you how active you want to be, as some clubs meet once a week, one a month or even once a term. I told myself, if I am going to be an online student, I need to find a way to be more involved with the OSU community.

“And, sure enough, becoming a member of the Wildlife Conservation Club feels like I have found my perfect fit.”

How has your involvement in the club impacted you as a student?

“Being a member of the Wildlife Conservation Club has helped my academic work. Our club members connect and talk with each other often. We share about our OSU experiences, our classes, recent events, club meetings — or just share pictures of our pets! It helps so much to have other students to ask questions of who are navigating similar experiences as me.”

What has been most impactful about your online learning experience with Oregon State?

“I can honestly say that without the constant communication with other students, I may not have had the same motivation to keep persisting in my degree program than when I first started. Earning a degree online is different; you have to constantly apply pressure to yourself to stay on top of everything, and that can be challenging at times. But connecting with other students who are on campus and online not only keeps me going, but it reminds that I am not alone.”


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