Look down at your two hands. Your two hands have the power to help someone and change the world. "Stevenson has taught me that we can each use our two hands to make a difference in our local and national communities."
“When I decided to come to Stevenson, I knew I wanted to hit the ground running, and since then, I have not stopped,” says Lauren Novsak. The Business Communication major has taken advantage of a myriad of community-based service opportunities to create her exceptional experience at Stevenson.
Almost immediately, she joined ’47 House, the Integrated Marketing Communication club. She served as the Director of Public Relations and Alumni Outreach for the Student Government Association, President of Mission: I’m Home, Stevenson’s alternative spring break program that helps communities affected by natural disasters, and a Student Assistant in the Office of Student Engagement.
“Every organization that I am involved in relates to service in some way, whether it is serving the student body here on campus or in communities other than my own,” she says. “I try to keep service at the center of everything that I do in life, on campus and off, because I believe that it makes life more meaningful and enjoyable.”
Lauren got the chance to explore this philosophy when her SGA advisor suggested that she apply for Maryland’s Public Service Scholars Program at UMBC. The Public Service Scholars Program has four sub-programs: Governor’s Summer Internship Program, Sondheim Nonprofit Leadership Program, Maryland Department of Transportation Fellows Program, and Public Service Law program. Lauren applied for the Sondheim program and was one of 19 leadership fellows accepted.
“The intention of the program is to introduce fellows to different areas of public service, particularly nonprofit work,” she explains. “During the 11-week program, we would meet each Wednesday as a cohort at UMBC for seminars on nonprofit leadership and management while working in groups to develop possible solutions for socio-economic issues affecting the greater Baltimore area. The other four days of the week, each of us was at our internship site.”
Lauren’s placement was with Living Classrooms Foundation at their Park House, located in the Patterson Park area of the city, and she says that the group’s tagline of “learning by doing” did not disappoint. She worked with her mentor and members of the Southeast Youth Collaborative to develop meaningful professional development and career-preparedness experiences for Baltimore Youth Workers.
During her tenure, she spent time with 5th through 8th grade students from Southeast Baltimore. “From chaperoning field trips, assisting with cooking club, playing cards, monitoring reading groups, and teaching kids to swim, play tennis, and the importance of service—you name it and I probably did it. Being so hands-on was not what I was expecting, but the experience exceeded my expectations. Middle school can be a rough age, but the internship changed my preconceived notions. The children were smart, talented, driven, funny, and have the world ahead of them. I learned more from them in 11 weeks than I probably could teach them in a lifetime.”
Lauren is thankful for such opportunities and believes she may not have had them at another university. “Being part of Stevenson’s close-knit, supportive community has put me in a unique position to advance my career because I have numerous individuals in my support system who are consistently seeking out opportunities for me to advance. I do not think I would have been able to participate in my fellowship without the experiences that Stevenson University has given me to grow both personally and professionally.”