In this week’s Community Chest, City on a Hill Press spoke with Sayo Fujioka, director of Student Organization Advising & Resources. SOAR supports over 180 different student organizations, including those within Student Media and Cultural Arts and Diversity.

CHP: So how did you get involved with SOAR? What’s it like?

Fujioka: I got involved in the work of student organizations first at UCSC and then at San Francisco State University. Being active in student organizations changed my life and gave me the motivation and ability to excel academically. I feel very fortunate to work with new generations of students as they engage in the opportunities offered by student organizations.

CHP: How has the year been for those organizations and SOAR?

Fujioka: SOAR supports the projects of organizations that produce over 200 campus-wide events each year, an average of 6,800 free publications each week and countless radio and television productions. Student groups and leaders had many successes this year, including the hosting of Dr. Cornel West, raising over $20,000 for cancer research and KZSC being named one of the top college radio stations in the country.

CHP: What was it like bringing Cornel West to UCSC?

Photo Courtesy of Sayo Fujioka

Fujioka: It was so inspiring to have Dr. West speak at UCSC — such an honor. The SUA and e2 [Engaging Education]students who organized the event worked hard to give the student body the experience of hearing Dr. West in person. He is indeed an icon, yet he was down-to-earth and connected with students by speaking to their experiences. I hope there will be more programs like this.

CHP: So, you’re essentially the head of a lot of student organizations and groups that all work extremely hard. Does it ever get stressful?

Fujioka: It is stressful, with the budget crisis looming over all of

us. But I love my job. UCSC student organizations are inspiring. Their leaders and members work hard to make a difference, whether through producing events, lobbying in Sacramento, or producing journals, newspapers or shows. These students gain and share an incredible spirit of generosity and love of learning. Working with them and seeing them continue on as alumni gives me hope for the future.

CHP: Where do you see the future of SOAR going?  Is there a lot of cooperation among the various student organizations, from what you’ve seen?

Fujioka: This is a very exciting time. UCSC’s student organizations are growing organizationally and developing more and more sophisticated programs — they are becoming crucibles of learning where students learn to work in teams, to listen to new perspectives, to collaborate effectively and be more self-directed and successful. And, yes, there is more cooperation between groups, which only adds to the breadth of experience available to those involved.

CHP: And do you have any advice for graduating students who aren’t quite sure where to go next?

Fujioka: Uncertainty can be uncomfortable, but give yourself time to explore. Talk with your faculty, staff, family and community mentors. Try things out and find what truly motivates you.