As all college students know, general education courses are often seen as something to dread. For me, I've never looked forward to a math or science "gen-ed." At High Point University, we are lucky to have several unique general education options that are enjoyable and relevant. I chose to enroll in "Philosophy and Ethics of Education." My expectations for this class were far exceeded as I was informed it is what we at HPU call a "service learning" course. For 15 weeks, twice a week, I visited Oak Hill Elementary School and taught a group of students about service. Oak Hill is a Title One school where most of the children receive service rather than perform it. Here are a few highlights from my time with the Oak Hill kids!
Their mascot is "Oakie" the Owl :)
Our first service project was a donation to a nursing home! I cut the bottoms of water bottles to resemble snowflakes, and had the kids decorate them! They learned all about recycling and the ability to brighten someone else's day through an enjoyable craft project!
For one lesson, we talked about the meaning of Volunteerism and read "The Littlest Volunteers." We then completed a volunteer word-search and talked about how we can each become volunteers for our own communities!
The "Rainbow Loom" bracelet trend is rampant throughout elementary schools everywhere. For another service lesson, we made bracelets to donate to children in the hospital!
We decorated these foam shapes with "Get Well Soon" and "Happy Easter" messages before I left my student group for Easter Break. While I was home, I delivered their creations along with flowers donated through my Children's Miracle Network Easter flower sale to patients at Inspira Hospital!
My sweet cousin Maddi joined me in delivering the goodies to Inspira!
To combine my own service with my Oak Hill experience, I donated ten boxes of recycled crayons that I had collected from Applebee's of Deptford through "Color My World." I know I made an impact both during my semester, and after I left :)
Thank you so much Mrs. Connelly and Mrs. Dragon for helping me launch this awesome program!
Since social media has become so prominent in young students, I decided to incorporate a short lesson on how to use social media positively! Whenever the students perform a kind act or volunteer in some way, they add it to their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and use the hashtag #KindnessKids and #KindIsCool! This has been a great way for me to connect with my friends while I'm at school.
I took a photo of their crafts and posted it on Instagram while they finished up to show them how quickly you can spread a positive message and to encourage them to only use that ability to benefit others.
I was especially excited to visit a first grade class at Centre City Elementary School to visit my very own teacher, Mrs. Spicer! Speaking to young children about volunteerism is so refreshing and exciting. Watching them comprehend just how simple and fulfilling philanthropy can be is truly touching. I read the students "The Littlest Volunteers" and joined them in coloring St. Patrick's Day cards! I then donated the cards to the Gloucester County Serv-A-Tray program to add to their meals on St. Patrick's Day.
Being a part of a sorority has given me the opportunity to spread my "Keep Calm and Volunteer On" mission even further! As Philanthropy Coordinator, I have planned plenty of events and fundraisers to benefit JDRF! I am so proud to have completed my first MAJOR fundraiser, "Twist Off." It was a huge success and tons of fun!
If you haven't heard of "messy Twister," this is the aftermath…
The winning team, "Kappa Alpha," after their victorious game!
After finishing up my Sophomore year and returning home, the business didn't end! I kept myself busy with plenty of service opportunities and pageant prep :) Here are a few highlights of the month of May thus-far!
Miss New Jersey Golf Outing with my fabulous pageant sister, Anna :) We were stationed at the free car hole! Anyone who got a hole-in-one won a car. Lots of pressure for us to be the witnesses ;)
A small piece of the Class of 2014 at the golf outing!
One of my favorite volunteer opportunities is being a "Buddy" for the Miracle League! My cousin, Maddi, and friend, Hannah, joined me in playing baseball with the special needs students of Bankbridge school.
Another tradition I love! I walked for the third time in the Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Walk on the Miss NJ team! Here a few of my pageant sisters and I took a pit stop for a photo-op with the Miss America statue outside of Boardwalk Hall!
I visited the Woodbury Elementary school's "GALs" program to teach them how to be Kindness Kids! We made Mother's Day flower pots and I delivered them to the Ronald McDonald House of South Jersey. Hopefully, the mothers residing at the RMH were able to find this small token as a reason to smile during their family's difficult time.
Thank you to everyone who helped make my "Zumbathon" a success! I was able to reach my fundraising goal for Children's Miracle Network and have a great time :)
Caroline, leader of the "People for the Poor" organization and I hit it off at this worth-while fundraising event!
Donations benefit folks in shelters and at soup kitchens. This little guy was eager to help :)
My Miss Seashore Line Outstanding teen, Gabi, helped me collect funds!
My Princess friend, Becca, and I made a matching bracelet and ring at my pageant sister's CMN fundraiser! Thanks, Anna, for such a fun party!
Showing off the bling :)
Straight from the successful fundraiser, we took a spontaneous road trip to Staten Island to watch the final night of Miss New York! Lindsey, Anna, Cierra, Courtney, and I had such a blast together--it made us SO excited for Miss New Jersey week!!
Jersey girls take Staten Island!
What's a road trip without a car selfie?
The next day, with very little sleep, I traveled to the Seashore Line Resort for their beautiful Memorial Day ceremony! I was humbled to sing the National Anthem and honor those who serve our country.
I placed a flag in the garden in remembrance of my Pop-pop who served our country in the Korean War.
I just love how the bagpipes truly top off such a touching ceremony! Ron is my director Carol's son and is so very talented.
Directly after the ceremony I was reunited with some of my fellow contestants for a pageant boot camp at Training Aspects - our Miss NJ fitness sponsor! Thank you so much to everyone at Training Aspects for pushing us to our limits and making it so fun!
For some reason we decided to take a picture after our grueling work-out…lesson learned.
Here's a sneak peak of my Miss New Jersey swimsuit, sponsored by Kandice Pelletier! I can't wait to wear it in just 20 short days.
Besides Lifestyle and Fitness in swimsuit, I have been preparing for my talent, interview, and gown presentation quite a bit! It's crunch time and I couldn't love it more :) To continue following my prep, be sure to follow me on those accounts listed in the beginning of this post! I'll be updating frequently and can't wait to embark on this incredible journey :)