I used to have a narrow-minded understanding of service. I was fixated on the idea that service meant volunteering time at a community center or donating money with the intent to better the lives of a few individuals. Although this definition is not wrong, it doesn’t encompass all of the unique acts of kindness the term truly reflects.
As a student at Bucknell University, I research the use of Fiber-Reinforced Elastomeric Enclosures (FREEs), a flexible tubular alternative to the traditionally rigid robotic arm. I analyze the effects pressure and winding angle have on the extension and rotation of the FREEs, and use this information to determine what the optimal FREE should look like. The tests and data analysis feed into the larger project goal of building a soft, pneumatically-driven robotic arm that assists those with disabilities in completing simple tasks, such as using a spoon to eat. Although my work may sound complicated, the mission behind it is simple: to serve others.
It is this research that has allowed my definition of “service” to evolve. For me, engaging in service means knowing what you do is intended to help anyone but yourself. In my life, I do not want my career to be separate from my service work; I want service to be my profession. Whether I build and research robotic arms or work for a nonprofit foundation, I strive to serve others just as I have witnessed those at El Pomar Foundation serve the state of Colorado.
To say my time at El Pomar was eye-opening would be an understatement. I felt privileged to work alongside an accomplished group that encouraged me to view the world differently. The people I met and grew close to showed me that you don’t achieve happiness because of what you do on your own, but that it comes from what you do with and for others. I am excited to take this service and team orientation into my future work.
Amanda grew up in Southborough, Massachusetts and currently attends Bucknell University, where she serves on the steering committee of Presidential Fellows and plans events to help integrate incoming fellows into the community. In addition to her academic work, she is involved in club tennis and loves hitting around with friends when the weather is warm. While at El Pomar, Amanda worked in the CEO's Office and with IT Specialist Dave Miller.