Jolie is a first-year graduate student at Louisiana State University pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. She currently works as a Graduate Assistant for the President’s Millennial Scholars Program within the Office of Diversity. Before becoming a Tiger, Jolie studied Psychology and Leadership at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. As an Undergraduate student, she was involved in: Orientation, the President’s Leadership Program, Greek Life, Alternative Fall & Spring Break Service Trips, and graduated with service distinction within the youth development track.
In regards to service Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are you doing for others?” I initially knew upon beginning my undergraduate career that service was something of high priority on my list of things I wanted to get involved in. But if you don’t exactly have the track record of completing service in the past, don’t quite know where to get started, or don’t think service is for you, fear not! I’m here today to offer my advice on getting involved in service or service learning as a college student.
- Step out of your comfort zone: If service is not something you have a lot of experience with or something you’re a little nervous to jump into, my advice is to get like Nike and just do it! More than likely you’re already challenging yourself by beginning this new season of life, why not use this transition as a chance to go out and try something that can make a positive impact on your community?
- Narrowing down your options: Okay, so we’ve decided we’re going to give this whole service thing a shot, now what? There are SO many organizations, people, and places that have plenty of volunteer work available or are in need of an extra hand. How do you know where to start? Well I would say begin by identifying personal interests. I know before I just said to step out of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean enter the panic zone. For instance, I am not an outdoorsy-type gal (though I try hard to be by wearing Chacos or telling myself I want to go hiking, ha! Yeah right..) Well if I choose a service site related to nature or the outdoors, what good will I be as a volunteer if I pass out when I see a snake, spider, or alligator? None.A good place to start narrowing down service site interests would be through LSU’s Campus Life office. Here is a link to their website. There you will find more information about what LSU has to offer service wise on campus!
- Make a commitment, y’all: Service is like a lot of things; you get out of it what you put into it. If you aren’t getting involved in something you really care about, show up sporadically to serve, or aren’t fully present in your time there, you as well as your service site will not get the best out of your experiences. Talk with your service site supervisor to agree on a schedule that works best for both of you and hold yourself accountable! I know how hard it can be finding time with a college student schedule, but remember that time management is key.
- Check yourself: One important aspect of service or service learning is reflection. Taking the time to step back and reflect in whatever way best suits you is important to really understand the bigger picture of your work. At times it can be discouraging knowing there is so much to be done that you might feel as if you’re making little to no impact. During these times write in a journal, look up quotes, talk it out with someone else, or check out this list of reflection activities in order to have a better idea of what your service means, the impact it’s making on the service site as well as on yourself, and any lessons you’re learning along the way.
- What kind of ships never sink? Some of my best friends I still have to this day I met on alternative spring or fall break service trips. Having the opportunity to put myself out there, meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and be vulnerable during group reflection allowed my new friendships to be deeper and more intentional. I went into these experiences not really knowing other students or staff I was with but always left feeling like they were family (as cliché as that may sound it’s true!) There’s something about living in a cabin for a week with people you have just met and no access to wifi or cable that just sort of brings you all together! In all seriousness, getting involved with service based trips or committed service sites is a great way to meet new people in both the LSU and greater Baton Rouge community. (The answer was friendships. Friendships never sink!)