Make time to volunteer off campus


Kernel Opinion SIG

We’re all busy, but our college experiences are still missing something. 

I’ve always considered myself a pretty active college student. In community college, I was in several clubs that required a lot of time. Both at community college and during part of my time at UK, I ran with the respective running clubs for each school, which required a great deal of training. Up until this semester, I worked an average of four jobs to pay my way through school. So, as with most college students, time has not been something of which I’ve had a lot. 

Last year, when Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times visited campus and spoke to students about sex slavery around the world and the importance of women’s education, a student stood up and shared with the people gathered about her time volunteering with a local ministry that helps women in the sex industry. 

I was immediately inspired and intrigued, and also a bit confused how she had time to be involved off campus. Even if she were in no clubs on campus, surely with school and work she had little energy to devote to outside issues. If she was anything like me, surely she wanted to spend her free time crashing from all the week’s busyness.

After that evening, I thought a lot about the whole idea of making time outside of college to volunteer in the community. I had been so focused on college performance: grades, work, paying tuition, meeting all the right people. Finally, I realized that as important as everything I was doing on campus was, it was all for me. 

I think that even if we don’t realize it, something inside us all needs to serve others. We need to give back to our communities. Perhaps only through doing so do we discover this need.

I have been regularly volunteering off campus now for a few months and I can say with confidence that it has been one of the best decisions of my life. We as people and as college students get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to lean back and look at our communities and the bigger problems they have. For me, it has been a growing experience as I allow myself to learn from a world I was not familiar with before. 

Lexington has a plethora of issues that multiple ministries and charities around the city seek to help; homelessness, the sex industry and hunger are only a few. I’ve found that getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are not benefiting me in a tangible way have made me happier as a person. I think you’ll find you have a similar reaction.

My advice to the students on this campus is to allow your heart to be broken for something in our city. And don’t be afraid to get off campus and do something about it.