USD Rotaract club hosts Big West Conference


USD Rotaract club hosted the Big West Conference at the IPJ.

USD Rotaract club hosted the Big West Conference at the IPJ.

The Big West Conference, which consists of 40 different Rotaract clubs representing the entire West Coast of the United States, joined together on Oct. 11 and 12 in the Peace and Justice building at the University of San Diego. The USD Rotaract Club led the event that allowed students to enhance their relationships with other Rotaractors around the world.

Rotaract is a service and business club for young women and men ages 18 to 30 and is part of the larger Rotary International family. The motto of the organization is “service above self,” which is often reflected in the various projects done by Rotary and Rotaract members throughout the world.

that exchanges ideas, plans activities and projects, and socializes with various companies. Rotaractors are in charge of organizing the events and are sponsored by Rotary clubs. The motto of the organization is “service above self” which is often reflected in the various projects done by Rotary and Rotaract members throughout the world.

The Rotaract International service club was established in 1968. It has continued to spread with the help of sponsors from the Rotary club, which consists of older adults who take the time to donate and participate in the various activities. This service organization now consists of over 7,600 clubs in 158 countries, with an estimated membership of 176,000 Rotaractors. The Rotaract club is an organization of businesses and professionals united worldwide to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace around the world.

Sophomore Rachael Beyer, the marketing chair of USD Rotaract club, reflected on her experience during the Big West Conference.

“I got the opportunity to host two students from Australia, and I was able to show them around San Diego since this was their first visit,” Beyer said. “We got to share many ideas and service projects that hopefully we will be able to accomplish this year.“

Beyer felt the experience connected her with other like-minded students.

“It’s just great being a part of this huge event,” Beyer said. “We are all from different places, but we all share the same ideals and goals for the future of Rotary.”

The conference began with a motivational speech from Thomas R. Williams, a published author and former linebacker for the University of Southern California Trojans. Williams emphasized the importance of teamwork and mastering a goal through perseverance and leadership. His speech focused on Rotary as a national club where students’ experience and knowledge should be used to give back to the world. Rotaract is a business opportunity, but is also viewed as a family that strives to help the environment and society.

Since 1985, Rotary has joined in the battle against polio, and has kept pressure on worldwide cases, which plummeted from 350,000 per year to several hundred. Now in 2014, there are only three endemic countries left, and that is due in part to Rotary clubs around the world and their perseverance.

As the conference continued, students were led into various rooms where lectures were held on networking, social media, the guide to happiness and the importance of being “confident, but not cocky.” Accomplished speakers such as Jen Weissman, president and creative director of San Diego based business Project X Brand Lab, and psychotherapist Dr. Kakaiya took time to teach Rotaractors skills that would benefit them in the future.

In the lecture led by Dr. Kakaiya, students learned the importance of leadership and how to take suggestions from fellow associates in the workforce. Dr. Kakaiya emphasized the difference between taking charge of a situation by acting overly confident and not allowing other opinions to enter a conversation. Students then shared problems in their own personal workforce and as a team, while they discussed ways to improve each situation.

Lara Rocchi, the 2014 Big West Conference chairperson, thought the event was very informative.

“This [was] the best opportunity to learn about leadership, commitment, service, fellowship and passion for the Rotary way of giving,” Rocchi said.

Along with USD, University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University also participated in this event by inviting financial and marketing coordinators to speak to the crowd. At the end of the day, Rotaractors took part in free tours of sites throughout the San Diego.

The closing speech was given by Jeremy Poincenot, who shared his own dramatic experience of losing his eyesight in college. While initially feeling depressed, Poincenot eventually came to focus on what remained possible rather than dwelling on what he had lost. His message was to give Rotaractors the capability to believe in themselves and to never give up on a seemingly impossible goal.

Throughout the conference, Rotaractors united for the same cause, which centered around working to improve the world around with teamwork and dedication.

Daisy Zaragoza, a sophomore and a member of the USD Rotaract Club, thought the event helped her better understand what being a member of the club meant.

“This conference helped me realize what Rotary was all about,” Zaragoza said. “Being put in a room with so many people that are passionate about the same cause is inspiring and makes you want to make a difference.”

Students visiting the campus left Sunday afternoon with projects, new relationships and ideas to take back with them to their global clubs.