Want to Get Involved? A Student Shares Her Experiences.

6 Oct

 

Rachele Fiorito is a very involved student who takes pride in helping others.

 

Volunteering and/or community service  is very important to your growth as a student and as a person. It can help you in different aspects of your and life provide new perspectives. Rachele Fiorito is a UIC student who is active with different organizations. I was curious about volunteering, community service, how it benefits her and how it can benefit other students too. She took time out of her schedule to sit down with me and explain how she takes advantage of everything around her.

Nakendra: Hey, Rachele. Tell me a little about yourself.

Rachele: I am a junior at UIC. I’m studying Applied Psychology and Criminology Law and Justice. I really like it here at UIC and I’m very involved.

Nakendra:  So, what are you involved with on campus and off campus?

Rachele: I’m involved on campus with the In-Touch Crisis Hotline and I’m a supervisor for that and what that means is that I help mentor some of the younger liners (students who answer telephones). I’m also a leadership coordinator with Peer Health Exchange. Peer Health Exchange teaches sex-ed in high schools that can no longer afford it. I teach about abusive relationships, how to identify abusive relationships, relationship resources and how to get out of an abusive relationship. I’m also responsible for 10 other teachers and I help them with classroom management, public speaking, and things like that.

On campus, I’m involved with the G.I.V.E. program and G.I.V.E. is “Get Involved with Volunteer Experiences.” I’m currently  their intern so I help organize community service events as well as provide support to different organizations on campus that are looking to get involved in community service. There’s also a presentation element to it so whenever there’s a need to present on either the value of service or the importance of service or something like that, that also falls under my responsibility.

 

Rachele and her sorority, Delta Xi Phi

 

I’m involved with Delta Xi Phi which is a sorority here on campus. I’m the community service chair so I organize events for the girls and this year I organized a mentoring program with a Girl Scout troop in Pilsen. We were doing a four-part series about what it means to be a woman in college, so there were presentations, tours of the campus, how to get involved in a department, what we’re studying, and the importance of college. Off campus I volunteer bi-monthly with The Greater Chicago Food Depository with my boyfriend. So that’s kind of the extent of my community service involvement.

 

Volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

 

Nakendra: How does it benefit you, as far as school goes and even for life after graduation?

Rachele: Peer Health Exchange has definitely…got me excited about actually going into the educational field I want to go into. I knew I wanted to do psychology but I had no idea where I wanted to go. I was considering Cognitive Neuroscience but working with Peer Health Exchange, I kind of got exposed to evaluative and preventative techniques for abusive relationships and violence in relationships and that’s actually what I want to go into studying. Studying violence in various contexts and getting involved with Peer Health Exchange really showed me what I was good at and how I can use my education to benefit the larger community so that was a big help. I think from that, everything trickled down.

Getting involved in the G.I.V.E. program gave me an outlet for using some of my organizational skills that I picked up in other areas and really applied that information to other students. Through the G.I.V.E. program and Peer Health Exchange, I got my first job as a paid researcher with the Illinois Center of Violence Prevention doing evaluative measures which is great as an undergraduate.

Nakendra: Congratulations on that. That’s really good, actually. Do you think it’s advantageous for other students to be involved on campus and off and what do you think it would do for them? Do you think it would have the same effect as it has on you?

Rachele: Well, there are a lot of different advantages. It’s for professional and academic careers so getting involved in volunteer service could mean finding a gift you didn’t know you had, finding an outlet or an ability you didn’t know you had or gaining skills researching or just professional skills that you could put on your CV or your resume for getting into grad school. If grad school is not for you, it could also be that stepping stone into getting that job you want because a lot of non profits, especially, will hire their interns and volunteers so it could be a way of getting into the door.

It’s also a good way to just spend time. If you’re more busy and you’re more involved, you’re going to be better at managing your time, you’re going to be better at being a student overall. I know that it has increased my GPA and I’m sure it would increase other people’s. It could also force you to get out of your comfort zone, stepping out of just being a student and being a community activist. I think the one that’s not really thought of is getting involved in a community, especially one outside of your own. It’s such a culturally ingraining process that really allows you to step out and get a more global view of the world around you and I think that’s really important for everybody. It also helped put everything into perspective. I think everyone gets caught up in their education with getting A’s or passing classes but working with non-profits just gave me a direct application of my education of what getting an A in this class means, what getting out of UIC with a great academic standard means and how that will help me in the long run.

Nakendra: Could you speak more about community service for me?

Rachele: Yes. I was using the term “community service” and this was something I learned through the G.I.V.E. program through various presentations. A lot of people use the words community service and volunteering interchangeably and they’re different concepts. Volunteering is a noun so if you’re doing something and it’s in the now, that’s volunteering. If you’re looking at a community need, you’re really working to alleviate that need, and you’re really taking a systematic and well thought out approach, that’s community service. Whereas volunteering is nice and it feels good, community service is really where you get the experience, and get into working with more non-profits and it’s more advantageous in the long run.

Nakendra: Ok. So which of these activities is your favorite?

 

Rachele and the other UIC student volunteers for Peer Health Exchange.

 

Rachele: (Laughs). I really like Peer Health Exchange because I get to work with college students and helping them become better educators and getting them excited about what I’m excited about. Also, working with the teenagers and working with the actual CEOs of Peer Health Exchange. I get to look at it from all the elements. I think as a person too, The Greater Chicago Food Depository with my boyfriend is great because it was me bringing him into the things I’m interested in and the things that I care about. It’s just a great activity to do with somebody that you like and care about.

Nakendra: Aww, that’s just so cute. Ok, so any advice for students about anything? On campus or off campus?

Rachele: My advice for students is community service and volunteering opportunities are everywhere. There’s an entire website dedicated for searching for them, on campus at UIC and off campus and that’s uicvolunteer.org. It’s one of the easiest search engines to use and you can actually upload resumes and create your own volunteer profile. It’s awesome. There’s also talking to faculty members. I know with the psychology department and just talking with one or two of my professors about what I was interested in, they were immediately able to match me up with non-profits with who they had worked for or worked with. That gained me research experience and non-profits are more likely to let you take on more of a leadership role and more of an active researching role than any faculty member ever would. Faculty members are usually saying, “Here, you can code this data, etc” while a non-profit’s need is so great, that you can become the principle investigator, the lead evaluator, which is what I did for Illinois Center of Violence Prevention. People really underestimate service, especially, people who are maybe business or accounting majors because they don’t know if they can get involved in a way that matters. We matched one accounting student who had a brother that was mentally disabled and we found a law firm downtown that helps do financial, long-term planning with families with children with disabilities. There’s almost every outlet for every single interest, every major, every skill set. It’s out there, you just have to look. Also, there’s that whole element of, there’s 24 hours in a day; what can I do with that day that’s really going to make a difference?

Nakendra: Well, thank you very much for your time!

Rachele: No problem. I’m glad I can help.

As Rachele mentioned, there is always something to do and people who always need assistance! Make sure to do some of your own research to find out what can benefit you and people around you.

Want to get involved at DePaul? Go here for more information on how you can help!

Are you a Loyola student and want to be a part of something that helps other people? Go here to find out how you can help.

And for the UIC students, this is where you can go to find out how to help your community.

Share your volunteer experiences with us!!

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One Response to “Want to Get Involved? A Student Shares Her Experiences.”

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  1. Let Your Spirit Guide You « Chicago College Life - November 12, 2010

    […] Activism: The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Meet Saba, That’s Pretty Good Stuff , Want to get involved? A Student Shares Her Experiences.   However, we have yet to address another type of organization that has just as much of an […]

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