By Caroline Dugas
When I first joined the leadership and community engagement LLC I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was going to live on a floor with 40 other people and have a class with them once a week. My role in the community began small, I joke about it now, but at first I was known as “the girl who’s never around.” I suppose at first I didn’t understand what being apart of a community like this entailed, and I didn’t take into account what my role was supposed to be. A month or so went on and I began to meet a lot of different people with a lot of very different opinions. I was caught very off guard by the vulnerability in what people were saying and the passion that they had for the social issues that were most important to them. Take it from me if you want to find a place where people are passionate about what they believe in apply here.
Time went on and friendships began to form as a rather large group of us volunteered for the GMU Pop-Up Pantry. This was a place on campus that gave assistance to food insecure students, faculty, and the people in the Fairfax community. It is such a small organization but manages to help people in immense ways. I volunteered here consistently throughout the first semester learning more and more about food and home insecurities in college students. I never would have realized how big of a problem this was until someone had put in directly in front of me. Time went on and I sat in class thinking about how I was surrounded by a classroom full of people who seemed like they knew exactly what they believed in. They all knew what they cared about most, their passions, values, and inspirations were no question. They all just knew. There I was absolutely clueless about what I wanted from the world and what I thought it wanted from me. I felt like I was lost in a sea of social issues and what it was that meant the most to me.
Second semester came and I was given a job as a Co-Director of the Pop-Up Pantry after the previous director had to step down due to graduating. I remember how nervous I was to learn the ropes because this wasn’t a job like any other I have had previously; I had to interact with people who needed my assistance. It’s a very strange feeling that if you don’t show up for work one day, someone might have to go without a meal. There was a certain responsibility about it that made this job that much more important. Throughout the semester I have had a tremendous struggle with finding out who I am and what I’m passionate about. Even though this LLC made me realize how unsure I was about the things I care about most it also showed me exactly what it was I do care about.
My biggest passion in life may not be hunger and homelessness, but this job and the people around me showed me that my biggest passion is helping others. The idea of being the reason that someone’s life is a little bit better means so much to me. The thought of being a part of the difference made in someone’s life is my passion. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from the people in the Leadership and Community Engagement LLC it’s to find what you love and use it to make a difference in this world, If you’re looking for purpose and inspiration from the people around you, then you’ve come to the right place. Every individual in this LLC has his or her own opinions and everyone respects that. You never feel out of place for disagreeing with someone, in some cases you are even encouraged to voice your own opinions. If you’re like me and you seem lost in the world of a college freshmen consider this LLC because without it I’m not sure how long it would’ve taken me to find out who I am.