Isabelle Hirschy
Isabelle Hirschy, MPP Class of 2022

Isabelle Hirschy, MPP Class of 2022, writes about how she built and strengthened her community after moving from North Carolina to Chicago.

I was admittedly apprehensive about my social life when I first started at Harris. I was moving to a new city and starting a new program without knowing a single person. This would be a challenge under normal circumstances, even without factoring for a global pandemic. Fortunately, the Harris Student Organizations (HSOs) stepped up to help students build community from day one.

I had always intended to join at least one HSO, but this year my extracurriculars have been my gateway to most of my newly formed social circle. For example, the Urban Policy Student Association rolled out its new Policy Cohort program, where you can meet in small groups to discuss common interests. I have gotten to meet lots of new people who all share my passion for housing and urban equity. I’ve also gotten several book recommendations from this group that I look forward to reading.

I am also super impressed with my classmates’ initiative in creating informal ways to gather. It feels like once a week someone invites me to join a new Slack channel or WhatsApp group. We have groups for language learners to practice with native speakers, student-led Indian Classical Music classes, and multiple levels of board game tournaments. Truly there is a way for anyone to find their niche or try something completely brand new. For example, my friend invited me to a Zoom magic show before the quarter even started. It was my first chance to really connect with my peers on a social level, and it was something I never would have experienced otherwise.

I am grateful to be studying in a place rich with community builders.

Isabelle comes from a service background, and we also recommend that you read her blog post on Getting Involved in Hyde Park.