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A Chance to Make a Difference

Published: February 27, 2008
 She has been a mentor to freshman Gateways classes. She has served as a Resident Assistant. She is an active member of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority and Team CHAOS – UT’s health and peer education organization.

These are just a few of the many campus leadership activities that Beth Giddens ’09 has taken advantage of as a student at The University of Tampa. And according to her, student leadership was largely something that came about by chance.

“Opportunities just open up and I say, I guess I’ll join,” she said.

Such was the case last November when Giddens was chosen as the student advisory committee representative for “Area Nine” of the BACCHUS Network , the nation’s largest collegiate peer education organization.

Founded in 1975, BACCHUS (which stands for Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) is a national nonprofit organization whose stated purpose is to educate students about various issues having to do with health and safety. While the organization’s main focus is on alcohol use, other initiatives range from student mental health to drug prevention.

“I think it’s so important to have something like this on campus,” Giddens said. “It’s just an easy organization for students to be involved with.”

In her capacity within the organization, Giddens represents over 113 affiliate peer education organizations at colleges and universities in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico, serving as a resource to help improve education about student health and safety at each affiliate’s school. As such, she is responsible for maintaining communication between all of the area’s schools, helping individual affiliate groups plan events as well as recruit new affiliates at schools within region.

It is a prestigious position within the organization; Giddens is one of just 12 area representatives nationwide. And, like many of her other leadership activities, it is a position that she says she came upon by chance.

Before she became involved in BACCHUS, Giddens was actively involved in Team CHAOS (Creating Healthy Alternatives and Options for Students) – UT’s BACCHUS affiliate.

“I think it’s important to let students know about peer education,” Giddens said. “A lot of it is just making individual choices.”

“The reason I enjoy my position so much is because, although I think people are going to do what they want to do, it’s great to be a part of an organization that provides alternatives to students wanting to be around a different scene.”

Having assisted the group with events such as “Safe Spring Break” and other student health initiatives, Giddens was among several students who attended BACCHUS’ national conference in November. It was there that her fellow Team CHAOS members urged her to run for the open advisory council position.

In addition to her peer education activities, Giddens – a double-major in communication and government and world affairs – hosts a show on WUTT, UT’s campus radio station, and recently landed an internship with a local TV station in Macon, GA, where she plans to work this summer.

The internship will encompass all aspects of broadcast news production, including everything from writing and editing news stories to assisting the station’s general manager with advertising and marketing. All of it is preparation for a potential career in journalism, Giddens said.