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Ryan Selvaggio

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

Throughout his freshman year at Vanderbilt, Ryan tried to find his niche and 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 and also 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. 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 through Vanderbilt Student Government and the Junior Executive Board of Vanderbilt Habitat for Humanity. Over the summer, Ryan was a camp counselor at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, GA and continued realizing his passion for education and for service-based organizations.

Coming back from his transformative summer, Ryan headed into his sophomore 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. 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. Through his experiences and successes at the Oasis Center, 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. With all of this coursing through his mind, Ryan journeyed to Cape Town, South Africa in Summer 2013 through the generosity of the Ingram Scholarship Program where he worked at a school called Lavender Hill High School, a school that faces gang violence and drug use and over 70% dropout rate. He worked with various facets of the school, from students to staff to community partners, to lay the foundation for a successful house system, a peer to peer mentoring system, and a leadership program for the student leaders that are still running toda

Throughout his junior year and now heading into his senior year, Ryan got even further involved with Habitat for Humanity and Grassroots and was elected the co-President of both organizations. Ryan has thoroughly enjoyed his time in both positions and looks forward to continuing his work creating meaningful partnerships with local organizations and giving students on campus the ability to make an effective difference in the Nashville community. His favorite experience so far in both of these roles was his time creating a partnership with a local organization called Nashville International Center for Empowerment in which Ryan brings twelve volunteers a week to help tutor and mentor students from refugee and immigrant backgrounds. In terms of Residential Education, Ryan enjoyed his last year as a residential advisor one last time on the first-year Commons being a resource and mentor to forty students and now looks forward to his opportunity to be a Head Resident of over three hundred students in Carmichael Towers his senior year. Lastly, Ryan has recently been admitted into the OACS Advisory Board and hopes to work with other service leaders on campus to make a lasting difference in our Vanderbilt community in terms of our mentality towards truly effective service endeavors.

Over the past three full years with the Ingram Scholarship Program, Ryan has learned that he loves the world of education, loves to listen to people’s stories, and desires to work in some sort of community development organization or school in the future. Ryan looks forward to continuing his last year 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.