What I Learned as a CUSERT Volunteer


Quote the Raven: Sarah
Public Affairs and Policy Management


I applied to CUSERT on a whim going into my second year at Carleton. It was summer and I was looking to make some new friends and give back to the Carleton community. Cliche? Maybe. True? Definitely.

CUSERT has been one of the most unique experiences of my university career. CUSERT has allowed me to meet and work with some of the most dedicated people I know, while learning and developing new skills in an enjoyable and rewarding environment. What I truly believes makes CUSERT great is the lessons you learn along the way: from every call, every training session, every competition, and every minute spent with my teammates I’ve grown and learned more than I ever expected. Here are three lessons I’ve been able to apply across my life as a student and as a responder.

Be confident in your abilities, but never stop learning:
Part of being on CUSERT is training. You need to maintain your first response skills to a high standard, which means attending weekly trainings, bi-semester evaluations, and taking your own time to ensure you’re always prepared to respond. Through all this training, my depth of knowledge has grown exponentially over the past year. I also quickly learned that you need to be confident in your abilities. This means not being afraid to make those tough decisions, but also knowing when to ask questions. It also means taking the chance, and not letting your self doubt hold you back. At the same time, while it’s impossible to know everything, so it’s important to never stop learning.

Finding balance leads to wellness:
CUSERT combines my passion for community service, first response, and emergency management. With my vested interest, I’ve found, it is easy to get wrapped up in my CUSERT duties and forget to find time for the other aspects of my life. This is how I learned balance is key. This is true across the various facets of one’s life. I’ve learned that it is important to make time for your passions, your work, your school, your friends, your family, and most importantly yourself. Finding balance, especially when scheduling can get hectic, can be a challenge, but I’ve found that balance can make all the difference.

The value of community:
Being on call 24/7 means hours spent with your teammates. This means they’re the ones who are around after you get a failing grade, they’re there to celebrate when you finally finish that essay, and they are the ones who are there to debrief the tough calls. Each tragedy and triumph brings you closer to your teammates and build community. It is important to have a strong support network in your life, and I have found mine in CUSERT. We are there to support one another and there really is value in knowing that those people will be there for you, just like you’re there for them through it all. Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without the overwhelming support found within this team.

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