Helping others has always been a focal point in my home. Both of my parents are medical professionals, so their day-to-day lives revolve around what they can do to support others. From an early age they taught me the value of caring for my community. As a young girl, I had an interest in nonprofit work because working, in whatever capacity, made me feel grown up, which I have always wanted to be. As I grow older, I now understand that I liked this kind of work because I felt fulfilled by helping others, not simply because I got to play “adult.”
My earliest philanthropic memories stem from my time spent with the National Charity League. Over a span of six years, I volunteered hundreds of hours in the Colorado Springs community through this mother-daughter community service organization. This exposed me to numerous ways that I could be actively involved in helping others. From donating and boxing food for Care and Share, to making meals for the Ronald McDonald House, to baking dog treats for the Humane Society, this organization taught me that philanthropic work is about community. Volunteering for local organizations has allowed me to see how I can make an impact. I can see smiles on families’ faces when we bring cookies to the John Zay House. I can see people dancing and laughing at the Best Buddies walk every August. The National Charity League gave me a passion for service work.
When I began looking for colleges, I prioritized schools that valued community and helping others. One of the key factors in my decision to attend Tulane University was the school’s service requirement. Every student must take at least two courses that are paired with a local organization. This has only further instilled in me the importance of community work. Over the past year, I spent time teaching classes to residents of the Greater New Orleans area who were applying to become citizens of the United States. Co-teaching classes was fun and engaging and I got to brush up on my United States history knowledge (fun fact: the two longest rivers in the US are the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers). Volunteering has allowed me to work with members of my new community and engage with a demographic different from where I grew up.
Philanthropic work has shaped my optimistic approach to life and allowed me to make small changes in a world that can seem nebulous and unforgiving. Everyday people face unique challenges and philanthropy focuses on giving back to those around you to lift the community up. I hope as I grow older and wiser, the lessons from my young work-driven heart will continue to shape and inspire me into someone who always values serving others.