As my last year at Arcadia begins, I find myself settling into the quintessential role of a senior college student: three parts excited and one part frightened. Of course, I’m eager to see what is in store for me after graduation, but I’m starting to feel the doubt that accompanies any big transition. Is this really what I want?
If you would have asked me that question three years ago, I would have laughed in your face. A lot.
From my beginnings as a fall FYSAE (First-year Study Abroad Experience) student in the forensic science accelerated program, I have switched majors once and changed my post-graduation plans more times than I can count. With each experience I’ve had—as an Orientation Leader, a Resident Assistant, a student in the Honors Program—I was able to narrow my aspirations. And, here I am, nearly ready to make the next step beyond my alma mater. As you may have read in my bio, I’m leaning towards the Peace Corps as that next step.
Hold up. How did I go from forensic science to Peace Corps, you ask? Well, if you insist, I’ll regale with the tale.
It starts about two years ago, at the beginning of my sophomore year. I had just changed my major from chemistry to biology and was suffering from a lack of direction. I knew that I wanted to work directly with people, but I was having trouble linking my major to those needs. Thankfully, after a meeting with the Office of Career Education I made a game plan. One of the most important pieces of that plan was going on Arcadia University’s Alternative Spring Break Trip, coordinated by the Community Service Office (CSO). Every March, this largely student-organized trip takes about 40 people across the country for a weeklong service immersion experience. I was one of the 40 students and alumni that traveled to La Place, La., to demolish homes devastated by Hurricane Isaac.
As one of the younger students on the trip, I was nervous about not knowing the people I would be working with. But these worries were unfounded. After using power tools to disassemble a trailer with someone, you really start to bond. Beyond all of the new friends I made, I was able to see the impact of my actions before my eyes. Not only in the trailer, but the man who owned it. Marcus, who had lived in that neighborhood all his life, visited us one of the days we were working. His story and gratitude were some of the most powerful things I ever experienced. It lit a fire in me that rages to this day. I knew that I needed to help people like Marcus. Luckily, I found an opportunity to do just that.
After that life changing week, on our bus ride from the Philly airport back to Arcadia, the Community Service Coordinator, Cindy Rubino, said that she’d love to have any of us come to work in her office. That was all the invitation I needed. After I started at the CSO, I began to pursue my passion for service. I was able to coordinate several projects, including the 2013 Alternative Spring Break Trip to Florida.
So, fast-forward to the present day. I work in the office that acts as a liaison between Arcadia and the community, providing opportunities for students to build practical experience, whether that be in a classroom, a hospital, or a non-profit organization. We hire the largest amount of work study students of any office on campus, as well as provide one-time volunteer experiences. Although I might be a little biased, I think that any student (or faculty, staff, or alumnus) would benefit from finding their passion for service. For me, it provided clarity that I would not have found otherwise—so much so that I plan to make a career out of it. Fingers crossed.