Lessening Social Separation Through Career & Volunteer (by Guest Blogger Angel Lightner)

My name is Angel Lightner, and I am a 23 year old student, finishing my bachelors degree in Micro/Molecular Biology at Portland State University this Spring. In August, I will be starting my first year of medical school at Pacific Northwest University. PNWU is a school for Osteopathic Medicine, where I will be training to become a physician, but in an environment emphasizing the importance of holistic care, and primary care, especially in rural areas of the Northwest.

I started volunteering regularly 3 years ago. These are a few of my longer-term, or unique experiences that I’d like to share:

Doernbechers Pediatric Oncology/Hematology & Intermediate Care

I volunteered at OHSU Doernbechers Children’s Hospital with infants/children suffering from cancer, blood disorders, or other infections/diseases that kept them in the hospital for periods of time.


Clinical Research Investigative Studies Program

OHSU has one of the two level-1 trauma centers in Oregon. I helped collect data for research studies regarding patients chief complaints for OHSU and the CDC. Working in the ER opened my eyes to the importance of primary care as preventative medicine.


Global Brigades

I travelled to Panama with other PSU students for a medical and environmental sustainability brigade, where we treated and educated 500 villagers. GB is a world-wide, non-secular, student run organization, established in Panama, Ghana, and Honduras, providing 9 different services in these countries (architecture, business, dental, environmental, human rights, medical, micro finance, public health, and water). While in Panama, our PSU brigade worked alongside brigades from Canada, UCSF, UCIrvine, and England.

As a volunteer, you can go on brigades, or obtain a job with GB in the US or in the three countries, helping to mentor brigades that come in-and-out of the community all year.


Parkrose High School

Besides medicine, another passion of mine is working with teens. Being a teenager is such a vulnerable time in life, and I found that mentoring students about their educational or personal lives was very rewarding. I worked with PHS for 2 Springs, the first where I worked in classrooms and tutored students, and conducted a survey about the tutoring center, and ways to enhance it for student use. The second year, I helped chaperone weekend field trips of students in the AVID program (students who are first generation college bound students), worked in the classrooms and in the tutor center, and also spoke to 4 classrooms of AVID students about my more ‘rough’ experiences as a teenager and how I came to be where I am today.

http://web.multco.us/sun/sun-community-schoolsAngel Picture

My goal in life is to help others live life to their full potential. In my future career as a physician, I hope to be a role-model and educator in the community about health, and lifestyle. I’d like to also continue serving abroad, as going to Panama taught me a lot about the beauties of living in simplicity. Along the way, I hope to continue integrating serving the under-served populations, both in healthcare, but also in other social aspects. Life has a way of getting busy, but just like anything important, appropriate commitments will be made! I sincerely believe that if more individuals in the community worked closer together, there would be less social separation. For me, helping others, no matter how big or how small, cultivates a feeling of purpose and appreciation of life that is truly priceless. I could see this enhancing society as a whole, if everyone had the time or opportunity to serve others. I will always make time for others, and it is a life-changing and learning experience.


“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and passion come together.”

I hope you all find and pursue your passions, regardless if they are related to or completely separate from your careers. Always remember that your work is extremely appreciated.

Question: How do we encourage others to become more active in the community?


4 thoughts on “Lessening Social Separation Through Career & Volunteer (by Guest Blogger Angel Lightner)

  1. Angel, the medical field needs more inspired professionals with the mind set of being a role-model and educators in the community about health. I feel that colleges have high potential of working with the surrounding community and give volunteers to the organizations that need it. As a PSU senior, I have to log 240 hrs of internship and from my experience the school that I am at could use many more volunteers. I have witnessed the elderly come in and do a reading program with the 1-3 graders, PSU students volunteering in the special education classroom, and many parents in the school doing various task. For this school (Creston K-8 school), it seems the community is supporting the school by getting involved (volunteering).

    It is a hard task on the other hand to get people to volunteer, who have a career, kids, and are married (even single individuals). I did some looking into another non-profit that would have been a great experience, but do to the demand they had from their volunteers seemed like another full-time job. It seems that high school students aw well as college students would be a targeted group by non-profits who need volunteers. This would at least, bring some more people into the volunteer field and may even provide future employment or careers for the volunteers by the non-profits.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. You already sound like an excellent role model. You value education and take the time to help others. I have been wondering how to best encourage others to volunteer. I used to keep my volunteering as a reading tutor hush-hush because I thought that was what volunteers did. I’d always assumed that great volunteers were the ones who did their work silently and without any real recognition. Yet on the few occasions I’ve mentioned my volunteer work at an elementary school, people seem to think it’s a good thing. I’ve changed my mind about what a great volunteer is. A great volunteer can be one who works quietly, but can also be one who goes out spreading the word and recruiting. Since I’ve received decent responses from the few in my personal life that I’ve told about my volunteering, I’m wondering if I should just tell them to volunteer. Instead of mentioning what I do I think I’ll make it my mission to recruit a volunteer for the next school year. Everyone benefits from good volunteering. The volunteer and those affected by the work being done can learn so much from one another. Knowing what it feels like to witness a child come into a reading tutoring sessions in the beginning of the year struggling, then by the end of the year see them develop a love of reading and finally be able to read either closer to, or at the appropriate reading level is amazing. This is all possible tutors are able to provide the one-on-one help a teacher or parent may not always be able to provide. If I can help one other person be able to experience the joy it brings, I’ll be happy. Volunteers are always needed.

    • I felt the same as you for a long time: Volunteer quietly, because volunteering is its own reward.

      But then the librarians I work with at the Belmont branch nominated me for a Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Award, and I realized how huge a contribution we volunteers make to our communities.

      IT’S HUGE! Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of time is offset by the work we all do.

      We don’t need to be reticent; we need to do exactly what you’re suggesting: “make it my mission to recruit a volunteer for the next school year.”

  3. Thank you for sharing your story, Hearing about your major efforts and serious activity in the community while still enrolled as a student is inspiring for me. You lead by example and show that there is no schedule too jam packed not to fit in some volunteer time, especially if the work can also better your personal career path and future learning’s for exposure. I like that you gave informative resources that are not only local but also abroad, shedding light on different and more unique volunteer experiences, way to think big and go big!
    We have mostly touched on local activism and community integration in our class and have come up with various and creative ways to get involved and stay involved locally. The main ways we encouraged the idea of getting involved were through avenues of natural interest and careers paths, as it is important that the level of involvement is also of great interest to the volunteer to ensure their longevity and commitment. W came up with examples of local schools, libraries, Hospitals, food banks, and shelters, finding out about where people are needed through community conversations as it shows time and time again that one involvement can lead to another type of involvement or opportunity, etc.. The most valid and agreeable point that you make is “If more individuals in the community worked closer together, there would be less social separation”. This too is true for me as helping others is contagious and is exponentially inspiring and also cultivates a feeling of greater purpose and involvement, allowing you to appreciate privilege, partnerships, and the members in your community that much more. I would encourage people to seek avenues that are related to their interests but more importantly areas of volunteering that are in highest demand of helpers. If volunteers keep it convenient and local they are more likely to follow through with their commitment and may get just as much out of it as those who they are helping.

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