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Davis, California

Monday, March 4, 2024

Getting involved


UC Davis offers interest-based clubs for students.

Whether students are incoming freshmen or aging fifth-years, beginning artists or experienced athletes, UC Davis organizations give students of all grades, skill levels and interests the opportunity to choose from over 700 clubs and programs.

For the aspiring Hollywood stars on campus, the Davis Filmmaking Society (DFS) is a place for students to hone their creative filmmaking talents through group productions that are made over the course of three to four weeks.

“When [my co-founders and I] arrived as freshmen, we realized there was a filmmaking void [at UC Davis], and we wanted to fill that void,” said Martin Yao, the DFS president and a third-year mathematics major. “It comforts me knowing that people [can now] come together through film appreciation.”

The club meets every Tuesday to organize and screen productions. DFS also hosts various socials, including movie nights and dinners.

“We just want to be a community that lets anyone come in and share ideas,” Yao said.

For some, freshman year is the perfect opportunity to discover the communities the campus offers, many of which are unique to UC Davis.

“Freshman year […] I had a rough fall quarter,” said Ishita Singh, the Davis Sailing Team vice president and a third-year international relations and economics double major. “I had a tough time making friends and I was just trying to get involved. One of my friends [asked if I wanted] to go sailing, so I show[ed] up, and I end[ed] up capsizing three times, […] and I fell in love.”

The Davis Sailing Team participates in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference, the largest sailing conference in the country. The self-coached team practices on the weekends outside the port of Sacramento and races in locations up and down the West Coast, from San Diego to Canada.

“The team has become my family — I do everything with them,” Singh said. “[The sport] is very unique. For people who have never been, it’s definitely something I would say to come and try out.”

Other freshmen also turn to clubs as a way of making new friends on campus.

“I’m in the Nintendo Club, so we discuss […] and play a lot of video games,” said first-year cognitive science major Christina Boyar. “We connect video games to real life lessons. It’s a nice way to meet people with common interests.”

For Boyar, the club has a different social environment that brings together people of all experience levels.

“It’s been nice to go to the meetings and just […] relax, kick back and talk about something I love,” Boyar said. “There’s definitely some hardcore people, but I’m a very casual player and it’s still a fun environment.”

While some clubs, such as the Nintendo Club, are centered around personal interests, others have more of a career-based focus. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is a national organization that provides members with various opportunities in the engineering department, including job offers, scholarships and interview practice.

“One of the things that benefited me […] was the mentorship program,” said Laila Hassen, the SWE vice president and a third-year civil and environmental engineering major. “You get [advice] from someone who’s sort of like a peer and is different from […] an adult. [They’re] someone who’s been in your shoes, just two or three years ago.”

SWE also hosts events such as sit-down dinners with company representatives for both networking and social purposes.

“[SWE] is a way to either meet similar women in your position or branch out of your comfort zone and get to know other people,” Hassen said.

Despite the different focuses of each club, UC Davis organizations tend to share the common theme of building strong relationships amongst members. Recent first-place winner of Picnic Day’s Davis Dance Revolution showcase, MK Modern, fuses various styles of modern dance to create a unified team spirit.

“A lot of the practices go really late, until 4 [a.m.] sometimes,” said Calvin Leung, the MK Modern co-director and a fourth-year pharmaceutical chemistry major. “Those are often some of the best memories I have in college — hanging out [and] messing around […] late at night, but also getting stuff done.”

Through the late-night practices, MK Modern members blend various modern dance styles to create sets that are showcased at various events and fundraisers for the club.

“It takes a lot of time out of our day, but in the end it’s worth it,” Leung said. “It’s definitely something I recommend people look into if they want to dance.”

Similar to MK Modern, the Davis Hiking Club fosters a sense of community in its members. The club was founded in 2015 by Hyder Shuja, the club director and a fourth-year international relations and economics double major, and Nick Jensen, the hike director and a fourth-year political science and philosophy double major, as a way to give students the opportunity to sight-see nearby nature.

“Almost on every hike we have a good number of international students who want to see America more and don’t really have the opportunity to,” Shuja said. “People speak to each other on the hikes and get to know each other, and it’s really cool because there’s this common shared interest.”

Run entirely on donations and fundraisers, the club holds general meetings every other Tuesday to plan for hikes that take place in nearby mountainous and coastal locations.

“By the end of the hike, it usually feels like a community of people,” Jensen said. “You wouldn’t really expect it, but it happens all the time.”

Written by: Allyson Tsuji – features@theaggie.org


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