Significant Experiences


"When I came here I was a member of fusion because there was a bunch of beautiful women on that team. I was a member of humans vs zombies. I was a member of the martial arts club, I was a member of the fencing guild, I was part of a cycling club for a little bit. I ran the nine. There was also the bio club, the chem club, the psych club. I wanted to get a feel for the campus that I was about to be on for like the next four or five years."(1) - Terrence Pearson


Significant experiences for the narrators included a variety of groups and departmental programs. Most were primarily associated with students of color, such as Kappa Alpha Psi, Black Student Union, and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Others included organizations for religion or for civic engagementlike CSIL and COURAGE. Faith-based groups included Young Sisters in Christ, Gospel Choir, and Bible Campus Ministries. Different academic courses, class trips, and the PSSI program also positively impacted some individuals.

Involvement on campus served a variety of purposes for the narrators. The majority joined groups that focused on finding solutions to major issues prevalent at the university. This included problems like retention, financial stability, and the uncomfortability to speak up in a predominantly white class about challenging topics like racism, affirmative action, and sexism. Surrounded by like-minded people with similar goals and concerns, narrators found a platform to talk about their experiences and voice their distress over continuing problems that constantly remained overlooked. At the same time, they found an environment where they felt comfortable, that eased their anxieties, and that fostered friendships.

Leah Ferguson.jpg

"My first semester, I. . . If I didn’t dancebecause I love dancingbut if I didn’t dance my first semester. . .if I didn’t dance and step my first semester I wouldn’t be the person that I am because I just would’ve been, really, really, really sad because loneliness when you’re 18 and in high school and at home is such a big different from loneliness when you’re in college. Like, it’s completely different."(2) - Leah Fergusen


A few narrators noted that joining specific clubs and organizations presented opportunities for them to gain valuable experiences in their majors and to grow as leaders in their community. With a declared minor in entrepreneurship, Taylor Muse worked at the entrepreneurial leadership center helping other students get involved in the minor by providing valuable resources like advice for business writing and expanding their connections with companies in the Lancaster area.(3) Her involvement increased her understanding of her field of interest, as well as for fellow students on campus.

In general, these experiences helped students make personal, professional, and academic connections to help ease the overwhelming effects of culture shock and to generate feelings of inclusivity and belonging.

Diavian Gunner.jpg

"So, coming through the PSSI program I felt really comfortable cause it was like people knew, like, knew the real me off the bat. Like, instead of, like, trying to figure me out, they knew me from day one. I was like this is who I am; like it or love it. You don’t have no option to like it or love it."(4) - Diavian Gunner

1. Terrence Pearson, interview by Basil Wright, May 1st, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

2. Leah Fergusen, interview by Rebecca Rubina, December 6th, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

3. Taylor Muse, interview by Kial Maynard, April 5th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

4. Diavian Gunner, interview by Julia Pavlow, November 14th, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA