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Current Scholars

Ryan Selvaggio

Class of: 2015
Hometown: Marietta, GA
School: Peabody
Major(s): Human and Organizational Development

Throughout his freshman year at Vanderbilt, Ryan tried to find his niche and his passion through various service endeavors that focused on three main spheres: 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 as well as teaching science classes to local 8th grade and 5th grade classes through Vanderbilt Students Volunteering for Science (VSVS). Through these two activities, Ryan 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 with Room in the Inn (a local homeless shelter) by hosting 12 residents at an on campus chapel every month, and learned so much from all of the stories of the residents that participated. Furthermore, Ryan was blessed to be a part of the Junior Executive Board, a group in Vanderbilt’s Habitat for Humanity that takes interest in special projects done through the organization. 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. 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. Over the summer, Ryan was a camp counselor at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, GA. Throughout his time as a camp counselor, Ryan learned how to organize curriculum, to work with staff members and parents from all different types of backgrounds, and also realized his passion for education and for students.       

With all of these lessons in mind, and coming off the tail end of a very exciting and transformative summer, Ryan headed into the new year wanting to get much more involved with his community at Vanderbilt and in the surrounding area. Ryan was a Residential Advisor in East House on the Vanderbilt Commons and was able to use his experiences in service to be a resource for new students to be involved with various service endeavors and organizations and also help show new students the importance of service at a university and in their lives in the future. Ryan also continued his work with Habitat for Humanity and was elected as the head of the Junior Executive Board, the same board he was a member of the previous year. In collaboration with Leigh Gilchrist of the Human and Organizational Development Department, Ryan created and facilitated an application and interview process and also a service learning program for his board of ten people. Throughout the year, the Junior Executive Board was an integral part of the volunteer strength of Habitat for Humanity and also raised awareness and money for the build fund at Vanderbilt as well. He loved his time with the Junior Executive Board and learned what it is like to be an administrator of a board of people and learned how important collaboration is within an organization. Ryan also became a board member for an organization called Grassroots and was in charge of weekly outreach and service to the Dismas House and also helped create an ACT and college prep program at a nearby organization called the Oasis Center. He was so excited to continue his work at the Dismas House and thoroughly enjoyed helping create the college prep program as well. Through the success of the Oasis Center for the entire year, Ryan has realized that his new focus is into the education world in some capacity, for he loves working with students and organizations that deal with educational issues and disparities. Furthermore, Ryan also participated in a service learning program on campus called the PREP program through the Office of Active Citizenship and Service and learned a lot about himself and other issues that are going on in Nashville and in the world around him. As a part of the program, Ryan interned at nearby Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee and helped revamp a twelve year old in school “Erase the Stigma” program called I.C. HOPE and focused on development and marketing of the program statewide and nationwide his entire second semester.

Looking towards the future, Ryan has taken all of the lessons that he learned about education and has followed his passion in the educational world to Cape Town, South Africa this summer through the generosity of the Ingram Scholarship Program where he will be working at a school called Lavender Hill High School, a school that faces gang violence and drug use and over 70% dropout rate. He will be working with various facets of the school, from students to staff to community partners, to help lay the foundation for a house system, a peer to peer mentoring system, and a leadership program for the student leaders. From this transformative experience, Ryan looks forward to going back to campus for his junior year and being a Residential Advisor again on the Vanderbilt Commons, one of the co-Presidents of Habitat for Humanity, the New Initiatives Chair of Grassroots to continue his work at Oasis and begin a new project at the local organization called NICE, and begin some work directly with the Office of Active Citizenship and Service to help bring together similar organizations across campus to collaborate and communicate. Over the past two full years with the Ingram Scholarship Program, Ryan has learned that he loves the world of education and mental health, loves to listen to people’s stories, and desires to work in some sort of community development in the future. Ryan looks forward to continuing his time with the Ingram Scholarship Program fostering past relationships, building new relationships with the new Scholars, and furthering his own learning and work in the community. This world is a beautiful and amazing place, and Ryan hopes that he will continue to find his niche so that he can leave his own mark and impact on campus and in the world.