Giva Student Scholarship & Worldwide Community Ambassador Winner Essay Series: Dr. Rushabh Malde

Giva is proud to showcase the essays of its Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award winners. Below is the winning essay from Dr. Rushabh Malde, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health. Giva's hope is to inspire others through these essays. The Essay question was, "How will you use your talents and education to make the world a better place for future generations? What are your career and personal goals and why?" We hope that sharing these essays will help others realize the joys and benefits of service. Congratulations to Dr. Malde!

Dr. Rushabh Malde Winning Student Scholarship Essay

Giva Scholarship Winning Essay
By Dr. Rushabh Malde

I am honored to be awarded a Giva Scholarship and the honor of now being a Worldwide Community Ambassador for Giva.  This scholarship grant is aimed at assisting students further their education as well as expand their social responsibility and community service footprint in the world.  After I was notified that I won the scholarship, I was told that the Giva founder wanted to speak with me. Ron Avignone, Giva Founder, took a strong interest in my journey from India to Columbia University in the USA. He was interested in learning about the defining moments in my life and what was my motivation for a career in public service.  Mr. Avignone explained the importance that service to the local community plays in his life and at Giva. Giva is a company that has ideas, solutions and practical ways to make an impact on the world. Thanks and gratitude to Ron Avignone and the Community Volunteerism Team at Giva for having this vision and commitment. 

The following is my essay:

My name is Dr. Rushabh Malde, and I want to be remembered for my benevolence and discerned leadership in alleviating the plight of the suffering, and this is my motto in life. Like every child, I was asked the proverbial question, “What do you want to become when you grow up?” and the only answer I ever gave was, "I want to become a doctor." I was deeply touched by the kind of contribution and service rendered by this profession to the society. I was sure that this was the only thing I wanted to do when I grew up. They seemed larger than life, not in the same way as men who run companies or nations, but as someone who could provide comfort, quell fears, touch a life and resolve a crisis. They were able to touch human lives every day and spread happiness to make this world a better place to live in. Now with my convinced dream in place and sheer determination to put into action, I embarked on my life path with diligence and guidance to achieve that.

My first life changing moment came while studying as a 3rd year dental student on a Rural Dental Camp organized by the department of public health dentistry of my dental college. I was shocked by the lack of awareness about the medical care and the below par health and living conditions when I went to the rural areas to conduct these camps. On my consequent trips to such villages, my belief to be able to change the health care system and try to make a change for the society only got reinforced. I started undertaking research online to find out why even in a fast-developing country like India Healthcare Administration was still a naive topic. In spite of having all the resources, government reforms, public healthcare schemes and hospital setup, still the health care system was in shambles. Soon I comprehended that the problem did not lie with the intent of government schemes or the public but with the administration of the already existing healthcare setups. It is then that I deeply thought of equipping myself with the necessary skills to improvise this precarious situation prevailing in our developing world. My concrete thought to study “MASTER’s in HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATION” paved way through this challenging situation.

After coming back, I gave up the opportunities to pursue a lucrative career in dentistry and took up internship as a hospital administrator at “DHANWANTRY” hospital. I feel extremely lucky to have gained the exposure I have during this job and the understanding of the healthcare system after working in various departments in the hospital set-up. I have been working there as a honorary intern for almost two years now, and my faith that healthcare management, if properly utilized, can bring a massive change in the society has only strengthened convincing me to pursue a degree in healthcare administration.

The existing Healthcare education in India and most of the developing countries has failed to understand the shortcomings of our existing hospital system and need to be revamped to address this pressing issue. I realized that preeminent universities in the USA like University of COLUMBIA and JOHN’S HOPKINS University provide excellent education in the healthcare sector and are ranked among the top-most universities in the world. The eminent faculty and the individualized nature of the Master’s programs there will definitely help me understand and imbibe the structure and organization of the healthcare sector in developed countries. I believe that this deep understanding of the efficient and stable healthcare system combined with the firsthand experience during the internship and post-graduation job in a hospital setup will help me achieve my dream of being able to bring about a progressive change in the healthcare system of developing or under-developed nations by working there. I understand that this dream will take a lot of efforts and participation by many other members, but I sincerely believe that if we put in unified efforts, the healthcare system can achieve this goal surely and improve the lives of entire population by bringing to them the best medical facilities at the most affordable of prices in an organized manner. I feel that inculcating Information Technology (IT) in the healthcare setup and utilizing it to better manage and plan the distribution of the available facilities will increase the output manifold in the near future.

I feel that, by applying this international knowledge and experience gained while studying this degree, I can try to correct some of the fundamental flaws in healthcare system and contribute and give back to the community in beneficial way. I also believe that a healthy society is the very foundation of a strong development agenda. By improving the health of the younger generation and providing them with proper care, we can provide the society with the strong working force required to take the human civilization forward. In the short term, I want to work at hospitals and implement the various managerial changes which can improve the local healthcare performance and in turn lead to a better society. My long term career goal is to head an efficient hospital in a developing nation wherein I apply the most advanced healthcare administrative ideas and provide an inspiration to other similar hospitals to follow suit which will benefit the people as well as the world at a very basic level. I request GIVA INC. to share my dream, guide me to complete this journey of mine and help me contribute to the society.

Giva Student Scholarship Winner Essay: Shila Vardell - Interview With an Inspiring Fellow Volunteer

Volunteer & Take Action

Shila Vardell, Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award Winner, presents an inspiring interview with a young fellow volunteer.

Q: How long have you been volunteering?

A: It has been about 2 years now.

Q: What made you decide to volunteer to help me feed and cloth the homeless?

A: At the time, I was hanging out with the wrong kind of people. I was 13 and my friends were influencing me to drink and do drugs with them. Not only that, but they were also trying to get me to join a gang they were involved in. I felt like they were my only real friends, and I could not find an escape. I went from getting all "A"s in school to getting "D"s and "F"s. My parents were extremely disappointed in me, and that is what hurt the most. I knew that I needed to make changes in my life, or I was going to end up on the wrong path. I thought that maybe helping you and being around the right people would help me make that change.

Q: Have you gotten involved in any other type of volunteering?

A: Yes, I recently started going to church, and they have a lot of volunteering options. They offer free meals to the homeless during certain times of the year, and I have been helping with that. Basically, we make meals at the church, and homeless people come in and we serve them. It is hard during this time of year because it is so cold and rainy, so I think homeless people have a hard time getting to us. I have expressed this to the church, and they are considering taking the food to the people. I think I could really help my church with this part because I know where all of the homeless stay since you and I have been traveling to them for so long.

Q: Do you think you will continue to volunteer?

A: Yes, volunteering has really changed my life. I have met so many great people that I would never have had the chance to meet if I continued to hang out with the people I was hanging out with. Volunteering also gives me something to do with my free time. Instead of going out and doing things I should not be doing, I spend my time being helpful. I know that my help is appreciated, so I enjoy it.

Q: Have you influenced anyone to volunteer?

A: Yes, I have a sister who is one year younger than me, and she was falling into the same trap that I was. She was hanging out with the wrong people and getting into trouble at school. I told her that I knew so many people in gangs and only two things come out of that kind of life: death or jail. She knew it too, but when you do not have many friends, you just want to have people around. Unfortunately for us, the neighborhood we live in is full of gang activity, so most of the people around us are in gangs. The only real time I am out of that environment is when I am volunteering. One day I finally got her to come with me to feed the homeless, and she really liked it. Being around inspirational people is a really good feeling for us.

Q: Where do you think you would be if you never started volunteering?

A: I would definitely be in a gang. When you hang out with the people that I was hanging out with, that is your only choice. Now that I am out of that scene, I can see how it all works. Gang members befriend young people who do not have many friends. They get you to be on their side and get really close to you, almost like family. Next thing you know, you are in a gang and there is no way out.

Q: Do you see yourself starting your own volunteering organization in the future?

A: Honestly, I think when I am in college or maybe a little older I might actually do something like that. I want to help people that same way that I was helped. I have a passion for animals, so I think that I will start some kind of animal rescue center and recruit volunteers to help me.


There are countless ways and means to volunteer. We at Giva encourage everyone to think about how they would like to make a difference in their world. Even one small act can make a huge difference in somebody's life.

Giva Student Scholarship Winner Essay: Joseph Lee - Interview with Dr. Paul Kent

Give & Receive Community Service

Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Ambassador Award winner, Joseph Lee, interviews one of his heroes for social responsibility, Dr. Paul Kent:

Interview with Dr. Paul Kent About Serving Others
By Joseph Lee

Why do you think it is important that we serve others?

People always think they are too busy or tired to serve or applaud me for serving in the midst of a busy schedule. I don't see it that way. I actually NEED to serve to survive. When I serve I get rejuvenated. When I serve my energy levels refill. It's like I'm on empty and I go on a service trip or service project and that tank gets refilled so that I am able to continue with the daily grind. So it's actually the opposite way of thinking for me, I serve so that I can be a better father, husband, doctor and every other hat that I wear. If you think of it that way, your perspective on service completely changes. And service does not mean going to Haiti or Rwanda, but are you helping your neighbor, your colleague, your friend? That is all service.

How do you believe privilege plays into service?

Look at me, I believe I basically have every type of societal privilege one person can have, some of which are not even under my control. With that said, I think it is even more important that I serve as an advocate and voice for groups that are still marginalized and discriminated against in our society. And while some may ask why I am advocating for groups that I have no affinity with, the answer is simple. As fellow humans beings, we are all entitled to basic human rights. Why is it that some people and groups in this country get to celebrate it, while others are cast aside to the fringes. That makes no sense to me and something we must change. We must ALL do this!

What are some suggestions you have for going about serving others?

Expand yourself. Don't be so comfortable with the role you play now or the position you are in now. It's such experiences that can really challenge you and develop you in ways you didn't think were possible.

Fight for every child, fight for every life. Remember that every child you care for and treat is someone's heart and soul. Remember that your patient is someone's son or daughter. Such a lesson didn't make complete sense until I had children of my own. When that happened my view and perception of what our patients and the families of our patients experience completely began to change. It made my job harder in the sense that I now truly understand the sorrow of what it would be like to lose a child. At the same time, it made my resolve to do my best to save every life or provide a more comfortable life for all my patients that much stronger.

Surround yourself with people that are fighting for the same mission. They are out there. Seek them out. It is not always easy to commit yourself to service and change in our society. I feel like there are fewer and fewer people who actually care and take time to care for others. And so, it can often get overwhelming or disheartening. That's why it's so important to surround yourself who are also committing their life to service. People who you respect. In that way you can rejuvenate your spirit and learn new ways to give back. They are out there, you just have to actively seek them out.

2014 Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award Winner

Student Scholarship Award Winner

Giva is very pleased to congratulate Rushabh Malde, 2014 recipient of Giva's Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award.

Mr. Malde is currently attending Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursuing his Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration. Upon being notified of his award, Mr. Malde said, "I am elated to be awarded the Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award. I am really thankful for Giva to consider me worthy enough to be a recipient of this prestigious award. I am very happy with the appreciation you have for my vision. Thank you again."

"Unfortunately, too many people today strive for just being 'very good' at what they do. Giva's vision is to create 'lift' to the individual vision and goals of these exceptional students, and we are very proud to help them realize these goals and assist them in their tangible efforts to change the world! With this scholarship, Giva's goal is to encourage people to set an 'exceptional' standard for themselves. The world needs a standard of 'exceptional' to meet the vexing global challenges that we face today. Our congratulations go out to Mr. Malde, and we wish him much continued success," said Ron Avignone, Founder of Giva.

For more information about GIva's Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award, please visit our student scholarships page.

Effects of Scholarships on Student Success

Graduation Costs & Scholarships

Scholarships that assist or cover costs of pursuing a higher education provide a number of benefits for recipients. From reducing the financial burden of the rising costs of a college education, to allowing students more time and energy to focus on studies rather than part-time work, scholarships are one piece in the puzzle of what creates a strong foundation for supporting students in their success in pursuing a degree, and furthermore, completing that degree.

The most obvious benefit of scholarships is that they make college more affordable. From this larger, overarching benefit comes many more benefits. As college costs continue to rise, a major deterrent to pursuing, and finishing, a college degree is affordability. Scholarships can give students the financial bump needed to take a leap and enroll in a degree, as well as a boost to morale and a student's confidence in their ability to work toward a better future. Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) is a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to providing education and research that informs sound, evidence based policies and programs geared toward improving the lives of underserved and underprivileged populations. One of MDRC's areas of focus is in Higher Education. Their publication "Piecing Together the College Affordability Puzzle" notes that given the drastic increase in costs for attending college, it's not surprising that students from low-income backgrounds have lower enrollment and completion rates. According to a study from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, even after applying financial aid, families in the lowest income quintile still needed to contribute, on average, over 60% of net family income to covering the costs of tuition and fees. Relative to the degree to which this income covers the basic cost of living, college affordability, or lack thereof, becomes a huge factor in low-income students not being able to finish their degrees. MDRC references a number of studies that showed correlations of higher dropout rates among students with unmet need versus students with no unmet need.

Scholarships also contribute to student success by allowing for more financial flexibility in terms of the need for a student to hold a job throughout college. This necessity can impede a student's success because jobs require time and energy spent away from schoolwork and other academic responsibilities. In addition, the extra time spent working a part-time job reduces time that could be spent taking advantage of the vast amount of experiential learning opportunities that colleges and universities offer, such as RSO (registered student organization) involvement, volunteering, internships and student-leadership positions. In this same vein, philanthropic scholarships can have a "pay-it-forward" effect in terms of encouraging students to either begin engaging in altruistic/philanthropic work in order to give them a stronger background for a scholarship application process, or continue their work in such initiatives in order to maintain eligibility for receiving scholarships. Merit-based scholarships often require that students enroll in a certain number of hours and maintain certain grade-point averages. These requirements make receiving financial aid an active, rather than passive process, that gives students an incentive to perform academically and work consistently toward completing their degree within four years. As a result, the faster a student finishes their degree, the lower the cost of that degree.

An important thing to note is that scholarships alone do not ensure success in college. Scholarships often do not cover the full cost of tuition and fees, even when a student is able to accrue multiple forms of public and private aid. Depending on a student's financial and educational background, they may need other forms of support to succeed in college. These other forms of support may manifest themselves in programs geared toward supporting students from underserved schools, or first-generation college students with benefits such as offering smaller class sizes for certain general education courses that may otherwise have hundreds of students in one section, and therefore little individual support. Other forms of support include childcare provision or special tutoring services.

Overall, scholarships play an important role in making college more accessible and affordable, and paving the way for students to be successful in both their pursuit and completion of their degree. When students can successfully earn their degrees, and the process is not burdensome or postponed, our greater society and economy are benefited. When young adults are able to focus their energy and means on their careers and serving the greater good, rather than paying off loans or having to re-enroll in school after dropping out for financial reasons, we have a happier, healthier and more efficient working public.

Giva is very pleased to offer its semi-annual Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award. We encourage all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity.

Giva Announces Scholarship-Tony Robbins "Unleash the Power Within" Seminar- for March, 2015 NY Area

In July, 1999, Ron Avignone, Giva founder, attended an "Unleash the Power Within" event in San Francisco and it served as the impetus to begin the creation of our enormously successful company!

In the spirit of giving back, Giva announces scholarships for free general admission to the Tony Robbins' seminar in the New York Area, March 5-8, 2015. Scholarships will be awarded to individuals who write thoughtful essays in answering the following questions:

What are your dreams and aspirations and how specifically will you achieve them? How will you contribute to the world by giving back?

The essay needs to be between 600-1000 words, and must be submitted to our mailing address no later than February 1, 2015. A current resume must also be included with the essay. Giva will choose the scholarship winners and will award the scholarships by February 15, 2015.

Learn to tap into your own power to create an extraordinary life of gratitude, health, personal relationships, career achievements and spiritual and monetary wealth and a sense of responsibility to give back. One weekend can change everything and put you into a radically different orbit for the rest of your life!

For more information, please see visit our Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within scholarship page. Submit your application and essay today!

Giva Scholarship & Community Ambassador Award Winner Essay: Joseph Lee - Interview with Arthur Chen

Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Ambassador Award winner, Joseph Lee, interviews one of his heroes for social responsibility, Dr. Arthur Chen of Oakland, California:

Interview with Dr. Arthur Chen
by Joseph Lee

What are your thoughts on leadership?

Leadership is important, but the type of leader you are makes the difference between an effective leader and one who is not. The biggest key in leadership is getting your team to believe and commit to the mission with the same earnestness that you have. Only then can the team work and move together. When there is a disconnect with the passion of the leader and the passion of the team, very little will get done, the leader will get burnt out, and the team will fail.

Another important part of leadership is valuing your team. I mean really valuing them. Not just "how are you" and "thank you," but seeking out ways you can assist them. This type of leader gets people to move with them and builds a cohesive team.

A great leader also allows his or her team to both succeed and fail. What this means is that they are not always micromanaging the team, but instead allows autonomy, therefore instilling confidence in the team. There will be times when the team fails and that is ok as long as you are allowing them to fail and learn from their failures.

Why do you believe we have to help others?

There are too many people who need help in this world for us not to. We have been blessed and given so much that it would be an injustice for us to stand by and watch people suffer. As physicians, we are in such a position of influence, and our skills allow us to build intimate relationships with our patients and our communities. To use such a privilege to do good, to love others and to serve. It's quite simply rooted in the biblical principle that we must love and serve our neighbors. When they are ill, take care of them; when they are hungry, feed them.

Why should we advocate for the Asian-American community?

Of all the communities that need an advocate, it's the Asian American community. So often they are neglected and clumped together as a model minority. How then do you explain the thousands without health insurance, the students who are not graduating from high school, the business owners being cheated out of money? If we don't do it, no one will, and there is no better time to do so than now.

How should we deal with disappointment?

Disappointment is going to happen in your life. Whether it be because people have let you down, you didn't get the position you were hoping to get, or reach the goals that you set. It is inevitable. What is variable is how you learn from them though. Disappointment is valuable and may even be necessary in order for someone to really grow as a leader and human being. How are you going to respond? Are you someone who is going to shy away from future endeavors because you are afraid of failure? Or are you someone who is going to take a step back and reflect on what you can change about yourself and the lessons you can learn from the experience so that next time, whether you succeed or fail again, you will approach the project differently. It is also important to look at the bigger picture and greater plan that is in store for you. Focus on those things. Lastly, it's ok to feel hurt and grieve. Don't think you have to be so strong that you can't feel vulnerable or saddened. In fact, allow that to happen and be patient. In time, healing and growth will occur.

How are we able to serve without craving recognition?

This is an easy trap to fall victim to and many do. Remember to check yourself and ask yourself why it is you are serving? Why is it that you are trying to give back? This is a continual conversation and self reflection you must have. Don't shy away from it, but be honest with yourself and fight the good fight.

Reminder: Giva Fall 2014 Scholarship Entry Deadline December 1!

Giva's Corporate Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award is for anyone attending a college or university worldwide. This scholarship grant is aimed at assisting undergraduate or graduate students further their education as well as expand their social responsibility and community service footprint in the world. There is no specific course of study or major required.

The deadline to apply for the next award cycle is December 1!  Please see our scholarships page for information about how to apply.

Giva Scholarship & Community Ambassador Award Winner Essay Series: Joseph Lee - My Life as a Teacher

Giva is proud to showcase the essays of its Student Scholarship and Worldwide Community Ambassador Award winners. Below is an essay from Joseph Lee, Rush Medical College. Giva's hope is to inspire others through these essays. We hope that sharing these essays will help others realize the joys and benefits of service.

My Life as a Teacher
by Joseph Lee

My second year of teaching has contrasted starkly with my first. The same parking lot, the same classroom (Room 312), and even the same kids greeted me on the first day. With that said, very few things came as a surprise. And while most teachers are presented with a new group of faces each fall, I was able to cycle with my 7th graders. Currently, serving as the primary 8th grade teacher, I am comforted in knowing that if I was to cease teaching at year's end, I would be able to leave with my students. And with such familiarity, I am confronted with new adventures and challenges each day, ones that at day's end are reminders of the lives that are changing. And this difference is in large part to all those who support my efforts and the larger efforts of Teach for America. You can rest assured that hundreds of thousands of student's lives are being positively impacted because of their compassion. And as the rhetoric of failing schools continues to dominate political arenas; it's hard to imagine a nation where all students are guaranteed a quality education. Nevertheless, we teach each day believing that the dream will become a reality.

Amidst all the optimism, however, numerous stains of frustration have diluted the entire experience. As a result of our school transitioning to a year round (Track E) school, summer vacation was shortened to five weeks. And as I recuperated in my parent's homeland of South Korea, much tension was brewing at Parkside Community Academy. The tensions were capped by the dismissal of our assistance principal, Mrs. J (a mother figure and mentor), who was let go due to undisclosed circumstances. This information crushed my spirits, pushing me to the limit, even questioning whether I would be able to take on another group of students. My negativity with the administration was clearly evident, and a journalism student who was curious about Teach for America was dismayed at my downtrodden attitude. She wrote a short piece on my experience and the following excerpt was taken from her corresponding paper.

"During his first year when he was still new to the system, Lee said, he went to work thinking that he could help every student. When asked how he gets through the days now knowing that he can't fix all problems, he said: 'This year is really different than last year because last year, if you asked me that I would've said no, that's why we're here, to close those cracks. But, just to be frank, it's broken me.'"

Upon reading the article I realized that unless I took on an entirely different approach to teaching, the school year would break my resolve again. The words of Helen Keller could not have rung more true than during those moments, a true test of character: "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

With this new-found realization, I internalized new goals that I would strive to accomplish with my students this school year.

  1. Explore the city beyond the confines of our classroom.
  2. Provide a safe haven for my students in the classroom.
  3. Ensure that all 8th grade students will enroll in college preparatory high schools.

With nearly half the school year completed, we are well on our way to achieving these three goals. In turn, my students and I have established a sense of solidarity, which will propel us forward in the coming months.

The Museum of Science and Industry served as the first venue of many trips to come. Many students had never visited the museum, which is less than a ten minute car ride away from our school and offers free admission to my students. In addition to learning about the human body and natural disasters, some students mentioned that it was one of the best school experiences they had ever had. Additionally, through a Saturday trip to the library, I witnessed my students reading independently for a whole hour, an enormous, novel feat to say the least. Ten years from now, they may not remember my lesson on similes versus metaphors, but these experiences will be engrained in our memories forever.

In addition to physical safety, a classroom should serve as a safe haven for students, shielding them from the chaos that often fills their communities. In order to create such an environment in the classroom, we refer to one another as a family. This notion of family manifests itself in the way students help each other during class projects and remind each other to behave. Furthermore, we focus on the big ideas of being stewards and scholars, serving as examples for everyone else in the school.

Learning from my inability to see each of my 8th graders enroll in college preparatory high schools, I made that a high priority this year. We started the year completing mock high school and college applications and are well on our way to numerous acceptance letters in the near future. By attending a high school fair, visiting a high achieving high school, and having high school recruiters come speak in the classroom, my hope is that each student will be enrolled in a school that will dramatically increase the likelihood that they will thrive in the academic arena.

On that note, my students achieved 1 year gains on the ISAT last year (the standardized test for elementary students in Illinois). Of all our teachers, only 4 achieved that. Although it's not everything, it was nice to see that the hard work meant something, and that my students actually learned. I hope that this year will show even more growth, because students such as B. E. deserve it. It would be an injustice to you as a caring sponsor to end this reflection without any mention of B. E., and so I devote this paragraph to her. When I first met B. E., she had a terrible attitude about school, which stemmed from her struggles to read and write coherently. A little over a half year later, she still struggles with her reading and attitude, but has changed more than any other student I have come across. The transformation stems from my ability to earn her trust. She has openly written about my influence on her life, and trusted me enough to let me read a love poem she wrote for her then boyfriend. She explicitly instructed me to read it and revise, but not allow anyone else to do so. I obliged and she was pleasantly surprised with the final product. And while interviewing at a medical school, I had to miss a day of school. During my absence, she pestered other teachers about my whereabouts, asking if I was coming back the next day. They calmed her fears and told her I was, indeed, coming back. And upon my return, she stated that "if you (Mr. Lee) missed another day of school, I was going to slap the Korean out of you." Some people gasp when they hear this. My heart melted.

And with that, I want to again thank those who support me for all they do for my students and I. While our lives could not be any more different, we have come together as a cohesive unit, and our supporters have played an important role in forming the union. I invite you to join us on our journey. We will keep the doors of Room 312 open for you.

Scholarship Award Winner Essay Series: Shila Vardell - Experience With Past Volunteer Work

Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Ambassador Award winner, Shila Vardell, writes about her own past experience with volunteer work.

Experience with Past Volunteer Work

By Shila Vardell

Since I was a young child I have always enjoyed volunteering. I had my first volunteer experience when I was 10 years old. My uncle was a firefighter and he helped feed the homeless on the holidays. On Thanksgiving day he agreed to take me with him. I remember being so excited on the car ride to the homeless shelter. We walked into the kitchen and there was so much food and so many volunteers. I was shocked to see that so many people took the time out of their Thanksgiving to help the needy. A few minutes after we arrived, the kitchen doors opened and people flooded in. Hundreds of hungry people formed an assembly line and made their way down the food line. It was my job to put mashed potatoes on their plates. I gave each and every one of them the biggest serving of mashed potatoes that I could possibly get on my spoon. They were all so appreciative and at 10 years old it filled my heart to know that I was making a difference in their lives.

When I was in high school, I started volunteering for a local hospital. Volunteering at the hospital was such a fun experience. I volunteered every Saturday morning from 9am-11am. During that time I brought newspapers and breakfast to each patient. Some of the patients would ask me to read the paper to them or ask me to sit and talk with them. My main job was to deliver things to the patients but I would also socialize with them so they didn't feel alone. It brought me so much joy to see the patient's face light up when I brought them their morning paper.

During my college years I joined a group called CAVE, Community Action Volunteers in Education. They took weekend trips to different places to volunteer. We went to The Golden Gate National Park to help clean up litter and cut down trees. We also went to a Veterans home in Yountville to help care for veterans. I expected all of the people there to be elderly but to my surprise a lot of them were my age. They were living there because they had been wounded while fighting for our country. I talked to as many veterans as I could. I was so interested to hear their stories and they were so happy to be telling them. At the end of our trips I truly think they didn't want us to leave. It felt so good to be able to brighten their day.

While I was in college I started to notice that the number of homeless people in my community were multiplying. It broke my heart to watch them beg people for food and clothing. I was a college student at the time so I didn't have much but I wanted to help them in any way that I could. The first thing I did was go through my closet and gather every item of clothing that I didn't need. Then I went through my kitchen and gathered every item of food that I didn't need. I put all of my unneeded clothing and food into my car and started passing them out to every homeless person that I saw. My items weren't enough so I started asking friends and family for donations. Every time I received donations I would immediately give them to the homeless. It has been 6 years now and I continue to pass donations out to the homeless. It is a rewarding feeling and I don't think I will ever stop.


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