UCF President Dale Whittaker (far left) eats Jimmy Johns with RSO leaders and volunteers before his speech. By: Rachel Stamford

The Office of Student Involvement hosted their first annual summit this Sunday to help student-run organizations collaborate and celebrate diversity.

The RSO Summit was held in the Pegasus Ballroom at the Student Union for 140 different Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). The 10-hour event run by 45 volunteers was part of UCF Student Body President Joshua Boloña and Vice President Jad Shalhoub’s campaign platform to inform student leaders of the resources available to their clubs on campus, as well as emphasize the diversity of UCF organizations.

Ashley Stewart, a junior biology major and Director of Empathy and Equality for the Student Government Association (SGA), said the event had been worked on since May 2018 to fully bring Boloña and Shalhoub’s vision to life.

“They [Boloña and Shalhoub] just wanted to do something that celebrated the unity and diversity with all the different RSOs on campus,” Stewart said. “Bring them to one place so they can talk about how similar and different they are but also build that connection to collaborate after the summit.”

The RSO Summit began at 9:30 a.m. with breakfast, followed by a welcome speech by Boloña and Shalhoub. The RSO leaders then broke in to five session groups to learn about marketing their organization, community outreach, funding through SGA, leadership training and campus resources.

The summit later had lunch with UCF President Dale Whittaker who gave a speech on the importance of RSOs in the rise of the university’s excellence.

Whittaker said that the best predictor of college success is an engagement that provides students with a sense of belonging and mattering to someone more than themselves.

“That’s what your organizations provide that we as administration, faculty and staff of the university don’t provide,” Whittaker said. “That is a sense of community, a sense of engagement and a place that really matters.”

Isabella Orlando is a UCF junior and Vice President of Fashion Society, which is a club that helps students start a career in the fashion industry. Orlando said that like many student leaders at the summit, she signed up for the chance to network and learn from other campus organizations.

“I’m really excited to meet people from different RSOs because we don’t really have a chance to really meet each other and collaborate,” Orlando said. “Getting to do that is going to be great.”

Other students like Tenesha Watson, president of the Association of Fraud Examiners UCF chapter, said she came because she was confused about modules her organization needed to complete for funding. Watson said the group session on funding was something SGA should have implemented before.

“The session’s presentation was really on point,” Watson said. “If we had those slides at the beginning of the semester that would have been better.”

Stewart said that this event will only stay annual if the next SGA president decides to continue it. However, she considered this first summit a success regarding leaders networking and learning about campus resources.

“It went so well. Of course, we’d love more people to come but for the people who came they loved every section of it,” Stewart said. “I could see them collaborating and celebrating that diversity which is why we did it.”