My freshman year of college I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. I was taking general education courses at a community college and playing soccer. The summer after my freshman year I started to work at a group home for adults with significant disabilities. This truly opened my eyes that I wanted to help other people as my career. When I arrived at Eastern I was nervous and excited. I decided to change my major to special education and began to work with the Student Community Service office. The staff was always positive and excited about new projects: Each staff member had their own individual strengths and with these individual strengths can make any idea for service possible. When the idea of after school programs started to arise the staff and I were not only excited, but ready to help in any way they could. I came into the office to run the after school program in Arcola. It was originally twenty five students once a week, but it ended up being seventy five students twice a week. This huge growth was due to the vast interest in the program. Even before the official start of the program the students were so excited that we had to let more join. I have never done a huge project and I was intimidated. It ended up being a huge success for the students, volunteers, and the teachers as a whole. All of the students in the program not only had the chance for a safe after school program, but they had a chance to engage in physical activity, homework help, and hanging out with cool college students. These three factors benefited the students to increase test scores of each student that was involved. Now I’m the Chief PLAY Officer that overlooks all of the after school programs that Eastern has to offer. This is a huge privilege! I not only have the opportunity to interact with the students three days a week, but I the chance to work with Eastern students to help them run their own after school program. Having the chance to interact with so many different students is an honor. I have spent a lot of volunteer hours helping students around the Charleston area, and I would not have spent my time any differently. At my time in the Student Community Service I have stepped out of my comfort zone, made new friends, and changed children lives. This office is amazing.

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Eastern Illinois University's Civic Engagement and Volunteerism office is dedicated to cultivating citizens of character and integrity. We do this by offering EIU students purposeful opportunities and resources to complement the academic experience. By participating in these programs and services, students are challenged to explore their leadership potential through student-centered programming, service and experiential opportunities. Our programs and activities support Eastern’s mission of enhancing the learning, educational growth, and development of students.

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