Throughout Ryan’s senior year of high school, he was greatly involved in his high school’s community service club sponsored by the Rotary Club of Atlanta called Interact, Boy Scouts, and outreach and leadership in his church. In Interact, he was one of two co-presidents of the club and through his time and effort helped grow the club to over three times its previous size. Through this incredible experience, Ryan was not only able to work with so many different types of people from his high school but also various people throughout the community. His largest projects he focused on through Interact was Habitat for Humanity (which he was in charge of all funding for his school’s chapter), outreach at The Extension (which is a halfway home and rehab center), and FOCUS (which is a monthly daycare service for children with mental disabilities). Ryan became passionate about issues such as homelessness and education through these service activities and found his passion for community organizing and management in the service sector. In Boy Scouts, Ryan completed his Eagle Project in the spring of his senior year and attained the rank of Eagle Scout as well. He was able to use all of his contacts and friends that he had either been mentored by or mentored in the past to be able complete his large scale Eagle Project and gain various skills for managing groups of diverse people. And lastly, Ryan’s time at his local Catholic Church included various things such as retreat and teen program leadership, Vacation Bible School leading, and Habitat for Humanity outreach through his church too. Ryan learned various mentoring and counseling skills and also strengthened his ability to put trust and heart into everything that he does, even if seeing results is hard.
It is from these events that Ryan learned how to finally see where he was called in service which led him into humbly accepting the Ingram Scholarship from Vanderbilt University. From the monthly sessions of leadership development and community outreach sessions that the Ingram Scholarship Program held his freshman year, Ryan learned to not only be more open to events in the community but also increased his desire to want to go into the business world of non-profits and social enterprises. During his freshman year, Ryan focused on three main topics in the community: education, homelessness, and campus outreach. On the topic of education, Ryan spent a lot of his time tutoring a second grader in reading all year at a nearby school through Pencil Projects and also teaching science classes to a local 8th grade and 5th grade class through Vanderbilt Students Volunteering for Science (or VSVS for short). Out of these activities Ryan was exposed to an education system in general that he had not be exposed to in the past and realized where he could use his time and efforts to make a difference but also harm from lack of experience. Also through these two activities, Ryan has realized that he wants to work with children in some capacity when he grows up because of how much delight it brings him to see them advance so much in such a short time. On the topic of homelessness, Ryan started working with the Dismas House (a local halfway home) by serving dinners through multiple different organizations and also ended up on the Habitat Projects Committee, a group in Vanderbilt’s Habitat for Humanity that takes interest in special projects done through the organization. Ryan worked very closely with St. Augustine’s chapel on campus to host 12 residents from Room in the Inn every month as well and learned so much from all of the stories of the residents that participated. Lastly, Ryan spent a lot of time on campus outreach in order to bring to light a lot of topics and events going on in the service world. First, Ryan was on the Commodore Programming Council, a VSG group on the Commons, and helped with countless service activities with the Commons and was a part of the Service Committee on VSG. Through his Habitat Projects Committee he helped with communication all over campus in order to make Habitat a much larger name on campus too. Through his freshman year, Ryan tried a lot of things and gained a lot of organizational skills and passion for many issues, but also started to narrow down what he wants to focus on service wise.
This summer, Ryan has been blessed to work at a local nature summer camp at the Chattahoochee Nature Center where he is a camp counselor for 2nd and 3rd graders all summer. He has loved it so far and has learned so much about nature, about other staffers’ lives and experiences that live close by, and also has created close contacts with some of the management and has learned what it is like to work in and manage part of a well run non-profit. Once Ryan gets back to campus, he will be a Resident Advisor in East House on the Commons, be one of the two members of the Habitat for Humanity board in charge of the Habitat Projects Committee that he was once a part of, be in charge of outreach and funding for dinners and other events at the Dismas House through Grassroots, and be a part of the service learning program PREP all this year. Ryan is so blessed to have been given this opportunity to attend Vanderbilt and be a part of such an amazing group of people and has really started to find out what he wants to do for the rest of college and for his life. He cannot wait for next year to start!