Service to Career: Welcoming Refugees

Delana Gregg is the  Associate Director for the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program at UMBC.

20130827_170142I was thrilled to see UMBC junior and Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar Christie Smith profiled in the Owings Mills Patch earlier this month. The article and accompanying video describe Christie’s work this summer with the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore, assisting caseworkers in providing all basic needs and support to newly arrived refugees and ensuring their transition into life in the United States is as smooth as possible. Christie was placed in the internship through the Walter Sondheim Jr. Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program.

What I appreciate is that Christie has so clearly moved beyond thinking of service as an occasional commitment, or as something she would do while in school butChristie Smith then leave behind. For Christie, work with refugees is a way of building her passion for helping international populations through education into a plan for a career full of contributions to her communities.  A Global Studies and Modern Languages, Linguistics, & Intercultural Communication (Spanish) major, Christie has volunteered since her freshman year through the Shriver Center with the Refugee Youth Project, an after-school program which seeks to improve the lives of refugee youth living in Baltimore. She tutored refugee youth from around the world in English and other subjects while helping them acculturate to their new country. Her service was so impactful that Christie took on a leadership role mentoring the other UMBC volunteers as a sophomore, including raising $5,000 for the organization with an Autumn Gala last fall.

I hope the coming year affords many more students opportunities to build their passion for service into a plan for work and life.

Contact the author, Delana Gregg, at