Like all first-year students, Katy was torn between two ideas of service: continuing the work she had done in high school or venturing into new projects. After volunteering with various tutoring programs in different parts of Nashville and a nonprofit centered around healthcare delivery, Katy has found her service niche in Vanderbilt and in Nashville.
Katy struggled with finding service projects at the beginning of the year, but thankfully fellow Ingram Scholars came to her aid. Lisa Koenig ’14 shared her project called Vanderbilt-Pakistan connection where Vanderbilt students teach classes via Skype with students in Pakistan. Bridget Claborn ’16 told Katy about TAP (The Afterschool Program), a tutoring program in North Nashville focused on fostering relationships with the children while providing a safe space after school. In addition she volunteered with VAP (Vanderbilt After-school Program) mentoring children who were staying at a temporary homeless shelter. Most of her service was centered on education, because that was what felt like the easiest service option considering Katy’s high school service projects were mainly tutoring and mentoring programs. While Katy enjoyed volunteering with these projects, she found a love for NICE (Nashville International Center for Empowerment)
She began volunteering at NICE’s afterschool program at Glencliff High School which targets immigrant students. Every Tuesday and Thursday a group of Vanderbilt students drove to Glencliff to mentor the students about a “PeaceJam” project, and then tutored the students with their homework. Each student also had a list of overarching goals that the Vanderbilt mentors would help him or her achieve. For instance, this past year the community of NICE and Vanderbilt helped a student apply for college, fill out the FAFSA report and all the forms. It was truly a celebration to see her at the end of the year and wish her luck at college. Sometimes the landmarks aren’t as tangible, and it can be difficult communicating cross-culturally, but Katy has found that her work is valuable at NICE. She constantly enjoys connecting with the students and seeing their progress.
In addition, Katy has volunteered her time at Project Cure, a relatively new branch of the national nonprofit in Nashville that organizes donated medical supplies and then ships crates to underserved populations around the world. Since Katy is pursuing pre-med, she has been thrilled to see how her studies can apply to the real world.
This year, she plans to continue volunteering at Project Cure as the nonprofit expands its growth in the Nashville community while making an impact all over the world. She will continue to develop the relationship between the afterschool program and Vanderbilt taking into consideration the changes it will be undergoing in the fall of 2015. Katy is also very excited to return to ASB (Alternative Spring Break) for another year. While she is very happy she has laid the foundation for many service endeavors, Katy misses volunteering at the Children’s Hospital, one of her weekly activities in high school. This year she wants to begin to form relationships with the medical center by volunteering her time in the research and clinical departments. She is enthralled by the possibilities that lay in her future and at Vanderbilt!