Hello Everyone! My name is Nicole Carter, and I took Zapoura’s Educational Equity Capstone back in Winter 2011.
In addition to the Capstone coursework, Zapoura had us volunteer with University Park Community Center, which was essentially my first volunteer experience. We helped in the tutoring center (I had a focus in literacy and reading comprehension) and oversaw recreational activities.
Since then, I have continued to volunteer in a variety of places. I worked as a Teacher Assistant and Bedside Tutor for children who required long-term hospitalization at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital (which was an amazing experience, I highly recommend checking out the volunteer positions available at Doernbecher); I assisted the Director of the Office of International Education at PSU; and I worked as a Teacher Assistant in an ESL classroom and Lead Tutor for the after school program at Parkrose High School.
I have to say, I am so grateful that Zapoura required volunteer work for the class, because it really opened up my eyes to the benefits of volunteering. Each of my volunteer positions was rewarding in so many different ways: I developed incredible and unforgettable relationships; I also developed insight into my own teaching style; I was able to refine and focus on what I really want to pursue professionally; and I gained professional skills that have made me a much more competitive applicant in the field I want to go into.
I make it a point to hold a consistent weekly volunteer job. It’s something that I have integrated into my schedule and, at this point, I can’t really imagine not volunteering. Of course, there are days and weeks that I really need to push myself to do it, but I feel like those are the most rewarding times because, in hindsight, it has allowed me to recognize my potential for commitment and responsibility.
For me, volunteering is a win-win: I do what I love to do, and it reflects positively in my professional life. Hopefully you can get out there and find an organization that really reflects and inspires your goals and passions!