Victoria Cornelius, a senior Psychology major and Sociology minor, is a desk manager and office assistant in UMBC’s Office of Residential Life.
This is the story of how I discovered I could make a difference. I participated in a weekend conference at the University of Hartford, in Connecticut. This conference brought together middle-school and high-school aged students along with college mentors. We were placed into “family” groups with approximately 2 mentors and 10-15 students. We worked together on team-building to create trust as a group. We created a fundraising plan under the leadership of Adolfo Perez (human rights activist) to raise money to assist the families in Haiti struggling after devastating weather. I made a difference by talking to my students and explaining where I came from, so that they could feel safe sharing where they came from. I empowered students to look beyond their own experiences to reach out to serve people that they didn’t know in Haiti, through empathy and imagining what those families were facing.
This experience energized my passion for service. Beyond this experience I have been able to impact my local community where I went to school in addition to the greater Baltimore area. Once I got involved in service learning I realized that this was a powerful need that I had to serve others that had been untapped in my prior experiences. My current volunteer activities include working with the youth at my church in Clarksville, MD and working for homeless shelters in that area especially around the holidays. I also provide mentoring for other students interested in getting involved in service learning at UMBC and in the surrounding area. I hope that I can be a champion for service and help others to see how service can be life-changing and ground breaking for those people and communities that are in need. I believe that even one person can make a huge difference when inspired by taking action to create change for others.
Contact the author, Victoria Cornelius, at firstname.lastname@example.org.