Going to university is a life-changing experience for students. Most are young, and for many it’s the first time they’re living away from their parents. IE University strives to ensure students experience a life filled not just with learning possibilities—inside and outside the classroom—but, thanks to Campus Life, one where they can connect with one another, attend community and networking events, and find support if they need it.
Elisa Hicks is the senior associate director of IE University. In a recent podcast Campus Life: giving you roots, helping you soar, she shared how students are helped to overcome challenges and encouraged to become not just entrepreneurs, but leaders and better humans.
Doors always open
Campus Life, Elisa told us, serves as the “nexus for the student experience.” Born and raised in San Francisco, Elisa grew up in a multicultural household so feels quite at home at IE University, where diversity is a core value. Indeed she pointed out that the Campus Life staff are also drawn from many different countries: “That really factors into our ability as staff members to connect with students, because a lot of the people on our team are from different places in the world. We really try to embrace that global perspective, in everything we do with the students.” Staff members know what it’s like to leave your own home, she said, and that connection is essential to offer the help students need.
Campus Life actively encourages students to come to them. As Elisa said, “We have an open-door policy. On all campuses, we have an office where we have representatives available to discuss any ideas that students have.” She cited the Campus Life Tuesdays initiative, where students can network with their colleagues and meet new people. These are great opportunities to share ideas, cultivate friendships and spread the word about projects, clubs, events and other opportunities on offer at IE University.
Being part of something
Campus Life works closely with the many clubs, sports teams and other extracurricular organizations within IE University. When it comes to sports, an essential part of the IE University experience for many of our students, Elisa told us that Campus Life collaborates with the Athletic Center to “bring that experience to a whole new level.”
There are student-run clubs of every conceivable type at IE University, and the number is growing all the time; right now, there are close to 150 clubs that organize over 1,000 events every year. Elisa explained that students have the opportunity to really be a part of something: “We have new club proposals that come in all the time, and we’re constantly encouraging them to launch different activities by working with other clubs that have been around for much longer.
That expertise and best practices can be passed along to them, to make their club really successful.”
Elisa’s previous experience in event management has also come in handy in her work with Campus Life, organizing events that align with the entrepreneurial and tech-focused ethos of IE University, such as the annual TechIE conference. Such initiatives are part of their efforts to “bring to life” new initiatives and opportunities for our students, optimizing their IE University experience.
Indeed, Campus Life’s mission is for students to “own your experience,” collaborating across all departments to help our students maximize the countless opportunities available to them. And in chasing that vision—and again in line with the resilience that characterizes our community, Elisa was quick to praise everybody involved in the myriad events scheduled during the pandemic in particular. Not a single event, she said, was canceled as a consequence of COVID-19. Instead, showing adaptability and leveraging the possibilities of tech, events moved online, then evolved to hybrid when in-person gatherings became possible again.
Improving the whole IE University experience
Campus Life keeps in touch with students by WhatsApp, email, newsletters, on-campus screens, through IE Connects, and their Campus Life Tuesday get-togethers. However you want to engage with them, Elisa confirmed that they welcome new ideas and insights from students.
With so much going on in sports, arts, sustainability—including a new cross-community Sustainability Council, comprising students and representatives from the IE Foundation, the Gender Equality Office, the Social Innovation Center, IE Sustainability Office and Campus Life itself—they really are at the heart of the student experience. On top of all this, Campus Life also supports the Student Government team.
But there’s always room for more. Elisa still sees possibility, under a new umbrella structure being developed to support Campus Life initiatives, to develop more clubs, extracurricular activities and organizations that can offer even more support for students. She sees the drive, passion and innovative ideas among our community, and believes that engagement with all these initiatives helps students develop their leadership potential.
Let Campus Life help you to make the most of your IE University experience, she concluded, and you’ll have fun and gain non-academic skills to take with you into the “real world.”