By Marie Clark
For the past year and a half, I’ve been getting that question weekly from people who see I’m geeked up about a cool community event or hear me say “I live in Bailey, the dorm with the greenhouse next to it.” That’s the statement that makes everyone stop in their tracks. Without even describing what RISE stands for, they are put into awe because we have a greenhouse just 17 steps (or 9 leaps if that’s your style) outside our door and we get to tend to it. Yeah, the students run this house! No, we aren’t some exclusive group. Heck, if we were- meaning we only accepted those with environmentally focused majors- we would only have about half of the amazing people that are in the community here. I know if that were the case, I wouldn’t be here nor have found some of my best friends.
While becoming a sophomore meant more work, I came back to school beyond excited to come home to my RISE family. The fact that I was itching all summer to see my friends that lived just down the hall from me, I knew that it was a sign I was in the right place.
I think the mass email blast about RISE happened to show up in my inbox at the right time because this environmental studies residential program is HOME. I remember thinking, “Sounds cool, I’ll apply. I want to live in Brody.” And while RISE on the outside looks like just another dorm, it’s the teams, collaborations, diverse people, and chances to learn more about the environment that make it so special.
I know that if I had chosen to live in Wilson where all the engineers are encouraged to live as freshmen, I probably wouldn’t have found the friends who took an honest look at me and ask “Why are you doing that major?”. The fact that I was surrounded daily by people in all different colleges, it made me question if engineering was really right, while also giving me the exploration space to rethink about what I actually cared about. Heather, Laurie, and all the upperclassmen here really helped me discover Kinesiology and how it fit my career goals.
I know I wouldn’t have gotten involved in volunteering in the greenhouse, making Zingy blend tea, or learning how female bees do all the work in the hive if I didn’t live here. And my biggest highlight to this day is the amazing space that is the Fishbowl on the second floor.
I remember within the first few weeks of freshman year, a random group of us came up with the idea that we would get out to free bowling on Wednesdays and call ourselves “The Fishbowlers”. HAH. As expected, we never actually made that happen, but it was then that I realized how cool the Fishbowl was. It was a collaborative space for us to have study sessions coupled with late night dance parties. It was the theater for so many awful movies as well as ones that made us cry. It was a space I could come when I wanted to turn around an awful day or the place I could share exciting news. We’ve held worm bin workshops, student success sessions, tutoring help, button making, Crafternoons, and mentor meetings.
This oddly shaped glass room may not be as big a part of my life anymore because I’m a sophomore and my class has agreed that “the Fishbowl is for the freshmen.” I still am a big supporter of this rad space that helps foster new friendships and allows collaboration. The Fishbowl has taught me that if you see something that you want to be a part of, you got to be the one to take the initiative and get inside of the action. You can walk by and wonder what is going on, but all you need to do is open that door and jump in. So, for all the freshmen, take care of the Fishbowl and use it wisely. Oh, and don’t be afraid throw up a random ten person tent in there just to talk in because this is YOUR HOME? The space is yours. Use it right.