In high school, I spent a lot of time doing community service. The projects I participated in ranged from tutoring and mentoring at a non-profit after-school and summer program to helping set up and man water stations at marathons. When I told my relatives about my involvement, they often remarked on how my service work would surely be looked upon favorably by colleges. However, they failed to recognize that I volunteer because it’s something I love to do, not something I merely seek to put on my resume.

Personally, I believe that volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways you can spend your time. At the end of service projects, I’m always left feeling refreshed and empowered. I can begin volunteering feeling stressed and overburdened and leave with a newfound drive and optimism. I’d attribute these feelings to the fact that by volunteering, we realize that we have the power to change lives and positively impact people that we may not know. This is empowering, and one of the reasons I make time each week to volunteer. We have the ability to make a  difference in the lives of others, and because of this we should do it.

Many people at USC share this same philosophy, as seen in the countless service organizations on campus. From Troy Camp to Friends and Neighbors Days to JEP, there are so many ways to get involved with the community around USC. Personally, my favorite volunteer opportunities have arisen through the Viterbi STEM Educational Outreach Program and the Trojan Knights, a service and spirit organization.

the Trojan Knights run several major philanthropies, including a carnival for the families at Union Rescue Mission. Here, my friends are working the prize table.

I’ve found that I am most suited for volunteering as a mentor and tutor, since I have experience doing this in high school. Throughout first semester, I volunteered with Viterbi’s STEM Educational Outreach Program. Each week, I went to Manual Arts High School, which is just a few blocks off of campus, to teach lessons on business and entrepreneurship as part of an after-school program. For this, I prepared presentations and activities each week based on the material, which I then shared with the students, who I got to know over the course of the semester.

This semester, I’ve worked with the 32nd Street School/USC Magnet elementary schoolers as a tutor and high schoolers as a mentor. Each week, I go with other Trojan Knights to the school to work through mathematics worksheets with third grade students on Mondays. On Fridays, we lead empowering activities for and mentor high school students. I’ve really enjoyed working with these students, and feel that I’ve helped them learn a lot, while also learning more about myself and my own values.

I’m really excited to continue doing service work throughout my time here. It’s something I care about, and though I know classes and clubs will get busier as the years go on, I’ll always make time to engage with the community. That’s all for now, but keep checking back and explore the rest of my page to learn more about how I spend my time outside of class!