My name is Asya Polat, and I am a Junior at Montclair State University where I participate in several university clubs such as the Biology Club and the Spanish Club. I have been a member of NSHSS for five years, and a Student Council member for two years. In November of 2019, I attended the Columbia Member Event and met so many interesting people.
Volunteering has been a part of my life since high school and has helped me to develop a deeper understanding of the value of community. These experiences have challenged me to take on several different roles and interact with different groups of varying ages, ethnicity, ability, and economic status. Through volunteering, I have built a valuable understanding of those with experiences completely different from mine. These kinds of opportunities hone our empathy and compassion in unique ways.
During the four years I attended Wayne Valley High School I was an active member of the Torch Club, the National Honor Society, and the National Art Honor Society. Being an active member of these organizations in high school motivated me to get involved in my community more often.
As a member of the National Honor Society, I volunteered for several hours a week tutoring students of all ages. Additionally, I tutored at the Wayne Public Library for high school, middle school, and elementary school students for all subjects. We also made over 5,000 packages of food at the Wayne YMCA for homeless shelters. As a member of the National Art Honor Society, we did arts and crafts at senior citizen centers and drew portraits for orphans in underdeveloped countries. Volunteering at my local Boys and Girls Club for the Torch Club allowed me the opportunity to tutor students, help with homework, read to children in childcare, and volunteer for events supporting community members in need.
For the past three months, I have volunteered for the New Jersey Special Olympics North League Basketball teams. Through this event, I made connections and met so many inspiring people. I kept score of the basketball games and watching the athletes work as a team and grow together was amazing. I find it so inspiring to watch the athletes develop and grow into stronger people as they face challenges some of us will never understand. For even more insight, NSHSS partner, Volunteer Crowd, is hosting a webinar, "How Colleges Value Volunteering - Insights From Bucknell University Admissions."
NSHSS Student Council members are motivated college students who share their experiences and advise high school students to help them succeed in college. NSHSS Student Council members not only provide information on programs, scholarships, and events but also advise on the transition from high school to college. Being a part of the NSHSS Student Council allows college students to become leaders and make connections with the next generation of NSHSS members. Some responsibilities of being an NSHSS Student Council member include volunteering at NSHSS events, being active on social media and posting social media takeovers, tutoring other NSHSS members, giving a tour of their college campus for new NSHSS members, and giving advice to new college students.
NSHSS has many opportunities for its members to get involved not only in their community but also beyond. One of my goals for the future is volunteering with United Planet, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships and international volunteer opportunities. These kinds of opportunities allow members to fully immerse themselves into an environment that is outside of their comfort zone and connect with new people and cultures. Personally, I would like to volunteer in Costa Rica where there is a need for healthcare and resources that I want to help mitigate.
Another opportunity I would like to take advantage of is virtual volunteerism. During this time, COVID-19 has put all events and volunteer opportunities on pause but NSHSS provides students with links to volunteer organizations through the COVID-19 resource page on the NSHSS website. These organizations allow students to be a contributing member of a virtual society from the safety of their own homes. Check out some virtual volunteering opportunities on our resource page.
Volunteering is undervalued in today’s society because everyone is working so hard towards one thing: money. No one really stops and thinks about how important it is to get involved with their community. We are so distracted with the idea of money that we sometimes forget to make our mark on others. I believe volunteering shapes a person into who they are. Volunteering for NSHSS not only allows students to make connections but also allows students to have a positive influence on others. I look forward to tutoring and mentoring high school students on their academics and college applications. I hope to positively impact and help guide them in the right direction. Volunteering for NSHSS is an opportunity to make an impact on the future leaders of tomorrow and make an impact on the world at large.
The only investment volunteering requires is your time, however making a positive impact on your community and knowing you helped at least one person is incredibly rewarding. Not only does volunteering for NSHSS help you grow as a person, but it also boosts your resume for future employers. It is so important to be an active and engaged member of your local and global community. Now more than ever, volunteers are necessary to help build community and shape the fabric of the world.