The History of QSO
Article by Russell Lyons (Q16)
Community is one of the most important aspects of QUEST. The close relationships that are created within the program can be difficult to find elsewhere at the University of Maryland. The faculty are very open to input from students about how the program should be run. One of the ways that the students in QUEST have their voice heard is through the QUEST Student Organization (QSO).
QSO has not always existed, though. It originated from a group of Cohort 9 students as a project in their mentor class. The class was faced with the task: how to keep the small community cohesion while the program was growing. At the time, the cohorts had about 40 students in them. After some brainstorming, they decided to begin the process of creating an official student organization for QUEST students. Chris Troilo, from Cohort 9, had experience starting up another student club and stepped forward to guide the progression and ended up becoming the first QSO president.
Initially, it was mostly a way of getting more funding for activities for QUEST students. But, it also started the development of many of the social community events that continue to this day. One of the first events was a small barbeque on La Plata beach that included a competitive game of Frisbee. The next year, the annual bowling tournament took place for the first time. Events like these have not only allowed for students to become more connected with their own cohort, but to also create more interactions and community between cohorts of students.
However, it was not all burgers and bowling. There were other events that focused on some of the more academic and learning aspects of QUEST. The first learning type event was a “How to Survive 190” panel. During one of the first couple weeks of the semester, a panel of older cohort students was put together and the 190 students were able to ask them any questions about the course and dealing with the professors.
QSO has evolved over the years and keeps pushing to bring new ideas to the table. Recently, it helped organize the first alumni dinner, where alumni and current students ate together and were able to network. There was also a Relay for Life team organized this semester. QSO provides students with a great opportunity to take on a leadership role within QUEST and to work with others to help build the community. I hope they continue to bring fun and interesting activities to the program in the years to come.