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Communication Student Starts NC State Chapter of HerCampus

Isabella Castineyra while on study abroad

Many of us vividly remember March of 2020 and what we were doing before the COVID-19 pandemic put everything on hold. The isolating months to follow impacted many of our college experiences and traditions.

Communication major Isabella Castineyra, a sophomore at the time, faced the monotony of waking up, turning her computer on and doing her best to focus on virtual lectures. The routine left her and many others desiring a sense of community lost to the virus.

To help fill the void, Castineyra used her time to create a new way to connect – HerCampus.

Run by college students in more than 360 universities, HerCampus is a digital magazine with feature articles about style, beauty, health, love, entertainment and more. As of 2022, the NC State chapter has brought more than 60 members together to write, plan events and run social media.

Castineyra took a break from her busy days studying abroad in Prague to chat with us about her experiences with HerCampus and at NC State.

What inspired you to start the NC State HerCampus chapter?

Basically, it happened in March 2020 in the midst of COVID. I felt like I wasn’t doing much, but I wanted to feel like I was doing something. I saw one of my friends at a different college post about an article she was writing for HerCampus at her school; I swiped up and asked about the magazine and did some of my own research. Afterward, I texted my best friend from NC State, Hannah Moxey, who also became the vice-president of the NC State chapter and suggested we start our own chapter. She’s also a communication major so she agreed.

What was the process like for starting your own chapter?

First, we had to apply to have a chapter through HerCampus. They have more than 300 different chapters worldwide that make up this online magazine where girls can write about whatever topics they want. Within a week, we had filled out the application, and they had gotten back to us. From there, we had to do a lot of editing tests, interviews and writing tests until we were finally approved.

Isabella Castineyra while on study abroad

How did you get the club up and running after being approved?

Over the summer, we began contacting girls in our major who we thought might be interested in being on the executive board. Then, we started posting on social media, which was definitely the best way for us to be able to get the word out there. Over that summer, we also applied through NC State to be qualified as a club; that was a really good move for us because people would be able to find us on the official website.

Did the pandemic affect or alter your experience with the club?

Yes, it was definitely the reason for starting but beyond that, I wish we could have done more in-person events. Even when COVID was in that weird stage where we could kind of meet but also not (restrictions, etc.), people just preferred to meet online. That was if they even wanted to meet because we were used to being at home and it just made it difficult to get that camaraderie, but we have other girls taking over as president and vice president right now and they’re trying to do more in-person events, which is good.

Cameron Crews is the new President and Ava Stewart is VP and they’re doing a great job with the transition! I think in the future as the club continues, they’ll be able to have more in-person events. But in my time, there wasn’t much face-to-face time.

You’re currently abroad in Prague. Can you tell me a little bit about your program?

I am doing a program through an outside group called CEA – Cultural Experiences Abroad. It’s been really awesome. I’m in a group with girls in my apartment from all over the place. My roommates are from Ohio, California, Massachusetts and New York so that’s been really awesome because I’m getting to meet people from all over the U.S. In addition to that, the program is at a university here, so I get to take classes with people that are all international. It’s in English, though, and I absolutely love it.

Classes are held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so I have four days a week that I’ve been able to travel and have really good experiences. I’ve been taking communication and journalism classes while I’m here, which is great because I’m a senior so it’s kind of hard to find classes that meet graduation requirements.

Isabella Castineyra while on study abroad

You’re also involved on campus as a student ambassador – what does that experience entail?

I love being a student ambassador! It’s been so much fun. We tour about once a week and it’s been an absolute blast. I love my tour group since we’ve gotten into a routine. A benefit is getting involved in public speaking, too, because it’s not something I necessarily thought I was bad at but now I feel more confident; it’s a great life skill and it’s fun to do. 

It also led to other opportunities like networking and acquiring contacts with people who work at the program. They were able to get me paid desk jobs – you’re not paid as a student ambassador since it’s volunteer-based but there were other opportunities that came with participating which was useful. I would recommend everyone to do it and I can’t wait to return in the spring. This experience was really impacted by covid; I applied in January 2020 and didn’t get to do my first tour until a year later.

As an involved student with plenty of extracurriculars, what advice would you give to a freshman?

Ease into it a little bit because there’s a lot of fun that happens at NC State. You can meet tons of new people and you don’t want to fill your time simply with strenuous jobs and internships right away. That first semester is when I really met a lot of my close friends.