10 Things You Learn As A Drew University Civic Scholar

10 Things You Learn As A Drew University Civic Scholar

“Freely ye have received, freely give”
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The Drew University Civic Scholar Program is a scholarship program based on community service, providing students with volunteer opportnities, non-profit internships, and the chance to make a difference both outside of and within the Drew Community. As a third-year Civic Scholar, here are 10 things I have learned while in the program.

1. Positive risk-taking can change your life

Whether you come into college knowing exactly what you want to do or not, the Civic Scholars program will encourage you to think outside the box and take risks. The classes and community service opportunities teach us to look beyond our own lives and explore how our actions affect other people, a practice that continues after graduation, even if we don’t end up working in the non-profit sector.

2. Teachers push you because they care

Amy Sugerman, Amy Kortiz, and other teachers and facilitators involved in the Civic program strive not only for educational growth, but spiritual growth as well. We are in college to find where our passions lie and they are dedicated to helping us on that journey and showing us how our passions can better the lives of others. The path of each Civic Scholar is different, but they are always there to help us along the way.

3. Community service can be fun!

Swimming with children with disabilities, shadowing doctors at an ER, helping people at old folks homes, sorting goods at a food bank, building houses with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, laughing with friends while harvesting vegetables at Grow-a-Row, interning with Sesame Workshop--all of these activities and more are community service opportunities you have as a Civic Scholar!

4. You just might find your best friends

Spending your first year of college in a living-learning community of your fellow Civic Scholars allows you the opportunity to find people who share your values, dreams, and passions. Even after college, making these meaningful connections can help you with networking. But more importantly, you might find the people who will stick with you through the bad times and the good times for four years and beyond.

5. Everyone can make a difference

Making a difference doesn’t need to be a huge event like passing a law or donating millions of dollars. It can be as simple as being the reason someone smiles today.

6. All people are people

Man, woman, child, elder, LGBTQ+, straight, disabled, able-bodied, black, white, Latinx, Asian, Native, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, immigrant, Pilgrim descendant, Democrat, Republican--when you work with a person, you realize these labels don’t matter. They’re just a person who needs help and you can help them. Especially in these divided times, compassion and empathy can be hard traits to come by. Civic Scholars have them in spades.

7. Community service is not just about your community

Through Drew programs, Civic Scholars have the opportunity to go to Washington D.C., New Orleans, Kentucky, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, England, Ireland, and many other places throughout the U.S. and the world.

8. Change is never hopeless

Many people say Civic Scholars are too idealistic or that striving for change is unrealistic, but we know that passion and teamwork are what make positive changes happen. Change doesn’t happen all at once, but the slow and steady work of Civic Scholars can bring hope in a dark time.

9. Non-profit work is real work

Through Civic Scholars, you learn vital skills about running non-profit events and organizations that make you highly sought after in the non-profit field. Also, through internships and other volunteering opportunities, you just might end up with a job after graduation!

10. It’s more than the money

Sure, the money is nice, but the experience you gain from being a Civic Scholar is worth so much more.

Cover Image Credit: Drew University Civic Scholar Program

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Netflix broke everyone's heart and then stitched them back together within a matter of 12 hours the other day.

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What Do You Do When Tragedy Strikes Your Former Home?

In my desperate attempt to figure this out, I'm writing about it.

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On November 8th, I woke up with a voicemail from my mom. It went a little like this,

"Hey, it's Momma. I'm sorry it's really early your time, but I wanted to have you hear from me before you got the news on. There was a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks last night at a country bar about ten minutes from where our house was in Moorpark. There are 12 people dead, the shooter is dead, and a cop. It was college night at the bar, so anyone over 18 could go in. There were students from multiple colleges there, that's all they know so far. It's just horrible." And so on. I made it about halfway through the voicemail before I pulled out my laptop.

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. This is what is referred to as one of the safest towns in America. This town was a short drive away from my home in Moorpark. These people are mostly my age. Then, the worst one occurred to me. What if when they display the victims' pictures, I recognize a face?

According to USAToday, the Thousand Oaks shooting is the 307th shooting on the 311th day of 2018. Are we supposed to allow ourselves to be desensitized to this gun violence? I sure hope not. I'll save you the agony of listening to how the rest of my day went. Long story short, I watched the news and cried more than I'd like to admit.

As the day carried on, I watched the pictures come up on my computer screen. I scrolled through social media and looked at my friend's posts of their friends being safe. Somehow, that did not calm me down. I watched the victim's faces pop up one by one on my laptop, and I listened to the stories.

All country music lovers, all college students, all heroes who helped save the lives of others before they lost their own. It was not until Friday that I realized I did recognize one of the faces. I logged onto my Facebook to get rid of a notification, and there it was. A picture of my childhood swim coaches, and Noel Sparks. Now, I understand that it's been years, but that doesn't make it any better. Each victim of the shooting had so much more life to be lived, and my heart breaks for each one of them. I send all of my love to the family, friends, and everyone affected by the Borderline shooting.

Not even a day later, there was news of a fire that is rapidly spreading. According to CBS News, The Woolsey fire has burned 98,362 acres of land and is only about 57% contained. While this fire has only 3 confirmed fatalities, the second fire that is burning in California has taken the lives of 56 people and burned 140,000 acres of land. I can spit out as many facts as my fingers can research, but it doesn't change the fact that my heart aches for my former home. When all of this tragedy happens and I'm 1,835 miles away, I have never felt so helpless. I donated to the victim's families, but I have not found a way to make sense of this in my mind. Why do these things happen? There's no concrete answer to this question, so am I going to wonder it forever?

If you would like to find a place to donate to the Borderline victims' families, click here. If you would like to find a place to donate to the victims' of the fires, click here.

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