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Ingram

Current Scholars

Maysa Kaskas


Class of: 2014
Hometown: Shreveport, LA
School: Arts and Science
Major(s): English, History, Cognitive Studies

Maysa's motivation for service stems from her love of working with people and her interest in perspectives, and her service record reflects this passion and commitment. Before arriving at Vanderbilt, she tried to engage in as many service opportunities and realms as possible, eager to make a difference and learn more about how the world works. After dabbling in a number of different fields, she realized that she loved sharing her passion for service with others; while recruiting friends and peers to serve with her, Maysa was struck by the amount of people who were unaware of the plethora of service opportunities in their own community. She worked with a friend to start a community organization entitled "Gainful: Get Involved, Louisiana," an initiative which seeks to advocate volunteerism by matching volunteers to local nonprofits which fit their interests, organizing collection drives and volunteer opportunities, publicizing available local community service events, promoting projects with immediate need, and utilizing social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to spread the word and recruit volunteers. The organization's work continues today; Maysa looks back on this experience as her first lesson in sustainability. The summer before entering as a freshman at Vanderbilt, Maysa took on an internship with the United Way of Northwest Louisiana. With this internship, Maysa worked to revitalize her local United Way's marketing campaign and learned a lot more about volunteer organizing, service event planning, and community nonprofit restructuring and rejuvenating.

Finding herself in a new community with new needs her first year, Maysa took advantage of the opportunity to refresh and explore the opportunities available to her in Nashville. She became most actively involved with the American Red Cross (an organization she'd volunteered with since 2006), the Books from Birth program with the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital (promoting and participating in adult and youth literacy initiatives), the Kennedy Center (where she worked with children with developmental disorders and their families), and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life (an event she'd been involved with since 2004). That summer, she traveled back to her hometown of Shreveport, LA to complete her first Ingram summer service project. Doing her first service project in a community she knew well, she reasoned, would result in a more productive and impactful initiative. She partnered with the Providence House, a transitional living center for homeless families and children. Maysa was fortunate enough to work with the Providence House on community impact, chiefly through fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer recruitment. Her main project with the Providence House was creating a summer evening enrichment program to aid their Child Development Center in its goals of helping the children reach social, emotional, physical, and intellectual milestones. Maysa drew on what she'd learned in previous work with children, feedback from the staff, and information from her first year Child Development class; she developed a program that included arts and crafts, games and physical exercises, creative writing and storytelling, and group activities for the children living at the Providence House. This was an incredible experience, offering Maysa the unique opportunity to immerse herself in a single cause and endeavor for eight weeks. She could have never done it without the support of the Ingram Scholarship Program, and she continues to look back on the inspiring experience every day.

Maysa's sophomore year was quite different from her freshman year in that she focused more on depth of service as opposed to breadth of service. Her energies centered on her position as Resident Advisor for first year students on the Ingram Commons, which provided a unique perspective on a different kind of service; the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, where she served as Co-Chair for Team Mentorship and exercised her interest in volunteer recruitment, motivation, and retainment; the American Red Cross, where she helped to organize service opportunities for students as Community Service Assistant; and the Middle Eastern Students Association, where she helped to organize educational and cultural events for the student body as Education Chair. She also continued to volunteer with the Kennedy Center in their Families First initiative, where she helps to care for children with developmental disabilities (primarily autism spectrum disorder) while their caretakers attend seminars. Last summer, Maysa participated in her hometown's Mayoral Summer Internship Program, where she interned with the Metropolitan Planning Commission. She learned a lot about urban and neighborhood planning; community renewal and revitalization; the way the government operates; and how to attract and maintain citizen involvement in the process.

Maysa is looking forward to her senior year, where she will continue her involvement with the American Red Cross, the Kennedy Center, the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, and the Middle Eastern Students Association. She is also excited to complete her honor's thesis in the psychological sciences on childhood depression and peer victimization.

Maysa is incredibly humbled and honored by the opportunities that the Ingram Scholarship Program has provided her, and she looks forward to continuing to learn and apply that knowledge toward bettering her community, one step at a time


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