As far back as I can remember, my parents have always encouraged me to give back to my community.
Before college, this included service days with my co-op, playing piano at a nursing home with my 4-H group, and working with students and horses at my favorite organization - Agape Therapeutic Riding Center.
Because of this influence, I knew I wanted to attend a university with a similar commitment to community engagement and service. Within days of stepping foot on IUPUI’s campus during Summer Bridge 2016, I started my four-year-long journey of giving back in various ways to the Indianapolis community by working at the Center for Young Children and Wheeler Mission.
Each year I also participate in the IUPUI United Way Day of Caring with a class, a student organization, or some friends. But for me, just being a participant wasn't sufficient. That’s why, during my sophomore year, I applied for and received the position of Service Chair for ALD/PES, two National Honor Societies that operate as one at IUPUI, where I worked with my committee to prepare several monthly service events for our members. Through this, I developed more connections in the community with organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and met similar civic-minded students from every field of study imaginable.
Fueled by these experiences, I stepped further out of my comfort zone in the fall of my junior year when I applied to be a Trip Leader with the Division of Student Affairs Alternative Break (AB) Program.
The Kelley Honors Social Entrepreneurship and Immigration Trip was looking for a Kelley Honors student to step in halfway through the semester and help take students to Atlanta, Georgia, for spring break to work in the community and learn about those topics. This experience allowed me to couple my learning in my business classes with my passion for service learning, and I grew so much professionally and personally.
My involvement in the AB program also introduced me to a wide variety of social justice issues in today’s society, and I engaged in conversations with peers, listened to guest lecturers, and delved into research on my own to broaden my knowledge. My love for the AB program encouraged me to apply to be a Co-coordinator this year, where I have the opportunity to prepare and lead both a fall and spring break trip focused on different topics with different partners in different cities.
One of my favorite parts of the program is we always work to bring it back to the Indianapolis community through service, education, and discussion. Our scholars and participants continually strive to become active citizens in the community, and I love working with them to give back any chance I get!