Growing up attending a small Catholic elementary school, Abby embraced the expectation of serving her community. This took the form of volunteering at a local food pantry with her family until she discovered her own passions for service. During high school, Abby learned that she is passionate about empowering others to be independent through her work with individuals with disabilities at a local non-profit, Stepping Stones, and in raising awareness of human trafficking through school and church organizations.
Beginning her freshman year at Vanderbilt, Abby became involved with several organizations on campus to grow the passions she had found in high school. She became a member of Vanderbilt’s newly founded chapter of the International Justice Mission in order to continue to work against human trafficking. She also began volunteering with a Girls on the Run team in the nearby Edgehill neighborhood to combine her passions for running and female empowerment. Through this experience, Abby learned the importance of being open and honest in role modeling opportunities. She was able to apply this in the spring while exploring a new area of interest, education, by tutoring at an afterschool program called the Salama Institutes. She tried to fulfill Salama’s mission to help students from underprivileged backgrounds reach their full potential by being a consistent presence in the program. She enjoyed getting to know the students at Salama and felt that she saw her work in forming relationships with the students bear some fruit.
Abby learned parallel lessons about the value of relationships in service as an “Ambassadore” in the Next Steps Program at Vanderbilt. Next Steps is a post-secondary education program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Ambassadores are Vanderbilt students who give Next Steps students the support they need in any area of college life, from academics to exercising. Abby enjoyed her roles as a weekly lunch buddy and tutor for two students throughout the year. She was able to form great friendships with these students and was inspired by their determination. She is looking forward to serving as secretary on the executive board of Next Steps Ambassadores during her sophomore year.
In the 2014 summer, Abby is excited to be returning to Cincinnati to be a supervisor for the summer day camp at Stepping Stones. She hopes to help participants at the camp grow in their independence while growing her own leadership skills. Of course, she is looking forward to the relationships she will form too. Abby is so grateful to be a part of the Ingram Scholarship Program and is eager to continue to grow through it next year.