Congratulations to Sarah C. from our Lion’s Heart Huntington Beach Chapter, class of 2016, who wrote the winning essay for a $2500 Corwin Family College Scholarship. She will be attending Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington this fall. Sarah wrote a fabulous essay that we thought we would share here on our blog. She really captures how volunteering, through Lion’s Heart, has shaped her as a person. She gives a true account of how practicing empathy and compassion, learning leadership skills, and defining a sense of community through volunteering make for a winning combination, not only to succeed, but to soar in life.
THE WINNING ESSAY by Sarah C
I view myself as an active member of the Huntington Beach community. The word “community” can be defined as a collection of people living in the same area, but I have discovered through my service work that amazing communities are constantly being formed by individuals who share a common interest or passion. Growing up in a loving Catholic household, I have learned the importance of living a well-balanced and holistic life. I have been active in my parish community and enjoyed my first leadership role in middle school as Vacation Bible School counselor. I fondly recall the wonderful feeling of being a part of this program and seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of the children during this fun-filled week in July. After this first entry into community service in 2010, I joined Lion’s Heart and have since had an emotionally changing experience through community work with this organization.
As one of four founding members of Lion’s Heart Huntington Beach, we formed a community of teens who shared a common interest in serving the local community. Over my six years working with this organization, we not only created the entity of a community, but we engaged in our community. I believe my impact as a volunteer is a culmination of the multiple community service experiences in which I participated. Whether it be face painting a little girl’s cheek at a home for single mothers and their children or lighting a pathway of candles for a cancer walk, I knew I was helping shape my community into a supportive home for others. As Chapter President and a five-year board member, I worked alongside many large organizations such as Red Cross, American Cancer Society, and Surfrider Foundation to expand our volunteering network. Through our partnership with Surfrider Organization, my group started attending monthly beach clean-ups. Because I live in Huntington Beach, I developed a strong sense of community pride by participating in clean-ups and joined my school’s Surfrider Foundation club. I ran for and have served as Vice President of Surfrider Club for the last two years. As my six years with Lion’s Heart comes to a close, I reminisce on the relationships I formed with the girls in my group; I learned to give back to my community and how to interact with others while becoming a leader. I spoke at school events and became an advocate for our Lion’s Heart chapter. I am proud to say we currently have over 40 active members in our Lion’s Heart 2016 Girl’s group!
Seeing the impact of service in my local community, I decided to explore a deeper level of community involvement through mission work. My local parish did not have the funds to continue an annual mission trip to Mexico, so I took the initiative to find a mission trip on my own. I did not have to travel far from home to see a different world. DOOR is a gateway mission trip for encountering the city of Los Angeles through the eyes, ears, and heart of God. For one week during the summer of 2014, I immersed myself in an experience focused on reflection and service to the homeless in Los Angeles. During the week I spent integrated in the Hollywood community, I saw the potential impact I could have on the lives of others. This trip sparked my interest in nursing, a career where I could impact the daily lives and health needs of others. I shared my “DOOR” story with the youth group at my church and have met with different church leaders to bring this mission opportunity to St. Bonaventure Catholic Church. My hope is that it will soon be approved so that other teens can share a similar experience and better understand the need to support others. Emotionally charged by this mission trip, I interned for The Eve and Gene Black Summer Medical Career Program at Martin Luther King Outpatient Center in Compton, California. During my summer internship in 2015, I volunteered over 200 hours. As the only Caucasian among 11 interns, I immersed myself in a multi-cultural and ethnically diverse arena and learned the importance of timely and preventative health care which furthered my desire to care for patients.
As community service has been an important part of my life, I plan to make it an active part of my future as well. As a member of multiple service “communities”, I have learned the important lesson that regardless of race, gender, or social status, we have an equal responsibility as a society to support one another. My internships and volunteer work have led me to my goal of pursuing a career in nursing. I plan to attend a Catholic university on financial aid and graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (and eventually a Master of Science in Nursing). If I am fortunate enough to receive a scholarship, I hope to attend Gonzaga University, a small private Jesuit college; I have been accepted into Gonzaga’s nursing program. Gonzaga prides themselves on shaping college students into leaders, teaching the importance of being involved in community service, and developing a close relationship with God in students’ education and their future careers. After I complete my education and become a nurse/nurse practitioner, I aspire to serve as a medical officer in the Peace Corps and become a global citizen helping to tackle some of the most pressing needs of people around the world.
When I joined Lion’s Heart six years ago, I was unaware of the full meaning of the word “community” but over the hundreds of hours I spent volunteering in this organization, I learned the value of serving others. Lion’s Heart helped me discover my passion for helping people and led me to my decision to pursue nursing. I may be graduating in June and leaving my home “community” but as I enter college this fall I look forward to finding new communities to serve and lead.
Congrats, Sarah! We know you are going to continue to do good things throughout your higher education and beyond. Thank you for writing such a heartfelt essay and letting us share your story!
~The Lion’s Heart Team
For more information on Lion’s Heart see our website lionsheartservice.org.