I Found My Passion for Community Service Through My Own Experience
Do you remember the first time you sat behind the wheel of a car to drive? Most people sat beside an anxious but reassuring family member that was readily available to answer any question or concern related to the operation of the vehicle. However, some of us were not fortunate. The lack of support motivated me to seek other resources to obtain information and experience. Non-traditional students face this obstacle when they decide to return to college after several years of being in the workforce. I began asking my peers if they would benefit from a student volunteering their time to be a coach and personal advocate. The demand was high, and I decided to start a community club for students. I established the Arklatex Nontraditional Student Alliance, a sub-affiliate organization of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF). The club would allow me to volunteer my time to assist students in navigating academia, coaching on scholarships, and raising awareness to volunteerism.
Once upon a time, you would go to the campus to register. From the admission process to walking into your first class, you had someone there to walk you through every step of the way. The college catalog was how you searched for degrees, and your advisor knew exactly what was best for you regarding classes. This process has changed drastically with the internet gaining its public face in the 1990’s. Students are now instructed to go online to apply for admission, apply for financial aid, and register for classes. The middleman has been cut out unless a student reaches out for further instruction. Many students, like myself, find it frustrating to navigate in a virtual world that is unfamiliar. I felt compelled to address this issue and offer a solution.
I spent hundreds of hours researching scholarships to find the ones that were legitimate. My first award came from the non-profit organization, ASPSF. After being in the program a semester, I met with the board of directors and requested support and grant money to fund a student alliance in my area. They willingly supported my vision, and we reach students within a 150-mile radius of Texarkana, Arkansas. We reach out to single parents to provide community resources, training, and scholarships. This club has gained recognition throughout four states in the last year.
Volunteering is important to students because it teaches valuable lessons that are not taught in the classroom. For example, I have learned how to chair meetings, speak to a broad audience and problem-solving within the alliance. The experience is fulfilling and challenging. I demonstrate to others how much selfless service can impact the world around you. Volunteering is contagious.
Taking my experiences and transforming them into a tool to assist other students has given me a purpose. A chance to make an impact on the world around me. The Alliance continues to grow and offer students assistance in navigating academia, scholarship support, and opportunities to serve the community. I will help any student that’s motivated.