For as long as she can remember, Nichole has been taught that helping others is a virtue. She took these words to heart, but never truly understood them until she realized the importance of reflecting not only on what she was doing for the communities she served, but also what they were doing for her. While she has had many wonderful service role models in her life, she credits her peers and mentors in the Ingram Scholarship Program especially for inspiring her to think critically and intentionally about her volunteer efforts.
In high school, Nichole worked on initiatives to get her peers connected to both local and international service organizations. For example, she worked closely with the Atlanta Community Food Bank to set up regular volunteer shifts for students from her school. Nichole also co-founded Akoma Ntoso, a student group dedicated to raising funds for Play Soccer (an agency based in Ghana that uses sports to teach health and social education to children out of school) as well as developing correspondence and cultural exchange between the American and Ghanaian students.
Since high school, Nichole has had an interest in medicine and the healthcare industry -a passion that has become increasingly relevant to her service work during her first year at Vanderbilt. After spending a summer interning at the Taskforce for Global Health in Atlanta, she wanted an opportunity to work with the renowned Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. This led her to Project:Bridges –a primarily student-run group which pairs Vanderbilt undergraduates with refugee families in the Nashville area to teach a health and wellness curriculum. Nichole has also found opportunities for medical service through groups such as Alpha Epsilon Delta (the national pre-medical honor society), the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, and Alternative Spring Break.
Nichole also continued some of the anti-hunger efforts during her first year at Vanderbilt that originally caught her interest in high school. As a member of the umbrella service group Vanderbilt Grassroots, she has enjoyed regular trips to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and has also volunteered serving dinner to homeless and hungry individuals at Nashville Rescue Mission. Nichole will serve on the Grassroots executive board next year as a Hunger Chair, and hopes to use the lessons she has learned both in Ingram and in the Nashville community to find ways to best combat food insecurity in the area.
During the summer of 2014, Nichole worked as an office assistant at Premier Women’s Healthcare in her hometown, and also participated in a medical outreach trip with the Mission of Hope School and Orphanage in Titanyen, Haiti. She is eternally grateful for the opportunities the Ingram program has given her, and is excited to see how her time as an Ingram Scholar shapes her service during the remaining years of her Vanderbilt career and beyond.