FROM CENTENARY STUDENT TO CHANGEBUILDER
BY RACHEL DANITZ
NJ CAMPUS COMPACT CHANGEBUILDERS COORDINATOR AT CENTENARY UNIVERSITY
CENTENARY UNIVERSITY '18
As a student at Centenary University I became engaged in community initiatives that motivated me towards a service-based career. When I took an AmeriCorps volunteer position at my alma mater that’s when I began to realize how my experience serving as a student prepared me for my job. The program that has taught me the most is the Midnight Run program. As a student, I worked with a team of volunteers to deliver food and clothing to people living on the streets of New York City. As an AmeriCorps member, I coordinate this program and am responsible for managing donations and volunteers.
As a student participating in this program, I was initially surprised to find that the service I was doing was benefiting me more than the people I was providing resources to. Volunteers were essentially left on their own to decide how resources would be distributed and to communicate with the many people that would gather around us waiting to be served with food and clothing. I was learning to work with a team of people I did not know, stay efficient and organized in fast paced situations, and respond calmly to a clamoring crowd of needy people instead of reacting to their energy. Now as a coordinator for Midnight Run, I have realized that many people never have the opportunity to experience situations like that, let alone interact so closely with people living in a world so different from their own. Volunteering in this capacity not only prepared me to handle my new role but continues to teach me new skills and improve my leadership style.
My studies at university gave me the qualifications to pursue my current career, but the volunteer experiences gave me the confidence and people skills to motivate me towards a career and graduation.