One of my favorite parts of being a USC student is the opportunity to create huge impacts right outside our front door through volunteering. Giving back has not only added fun and balance to my engineering schedule, but has also introduced me to some of my best friends. Below I have shared two organizations in particular that have helped me connect with our community!
Troy Camp is the oldest student-led philanthropic organization at USC and offers long term mentorship to kids in Los Angeles. Each summer, over 100 elementary schoolers are chosen to attend a free camp led by USC students. After camp, each camper has the opportunity to participate in weekly programming during the school year until they graduate high school. This structure allows each student to receive long-term mentorship and connection with their counselors. This year I worked with ten smart and funky 8th grade girls; seeing their love for one another and their counselors has been incredible to witness. I can’t wait to see how they do in high school next year!
Joint Education Project
Joint Educational Project (JEP) is one of the oldest service-learning based programs in the nation. With JEP, USC students take what they have learned in their classes and teach it to LA Unified School District students. This program is especially important because many students in our community have fewer opportunities to learn about STEM subjects. For my JEP project, I taught health and sociology to eager high schoolers near USC. It was an incredible opportunity to dive deeper into my sociology class while also teaching unique and valuable lessons to children in our area.
While these two organizations have been particularly valuable to my experience at USC, countless other amazing opportunities also exist. Some other service clubs include Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, and Engineers Without Borders, just to name a few! The key to service is finding a volunteer opportunity that excites you and doesn’t feel like a chore. Seeing the impact I can make through volunteering has helped keep me motivated after long days studying. For me, service that involves hands-on teaching and interacting with children has always been my calling. For others, however, building solar panels, volunteering at a food bank, or holding fundraisers may ignite their passion. Whatever it is, follow your heart, and the benefits will follow. <3