Adrienne Macdonald, a fourth-year international business student, explains how volunteering her time as Team Leader for Carleton Serves has made a “profound impact” on her four years at Carleton University.

During the summer leading into my first year at Carleton University I was excited to get involved with the Carleton community.  Carleton Serves was the first volunteer initiative that I signed up for with Carleton and a major reason for my continued involvement with the university.  I have participated in Carleton Serves as a Team Member twice (2009, 2010) and most recently as a Team Leader (2012).  As you will see, Carleton Serves has had a profound impact on my experience at Carleton University.

There were many reasons behind why I initially became involved with Carleton Serves.  I was interested in meeting new people, especially other students whom enjoyed being involved in their community.  At the same time, I wanted to develop my sense of community at Carleton.  Moving from Kamloops, BC, where I was an exceptionally active member in my community, to a new city 4,500km away, meant that I needed to completely redefine many aspects of my extra-curricular life.  Carleton Serves put me on the right track to getting involved in the community, and it also helped me to foster many important relationships.

I have been involved with Carleton Serves every year that I have been a student at Carleton.  In 2009 I participated for the first time as a Team Member.  My team worked at a local primary school, laying mosaic paving stones made by the second grade students in the school’s garden.  It was a very rewarding experience that taught me a lot about community building and the effects of a positive atmosphere on a student’s learning abilities.  In 2010 I once again participated as a Team Member with Carleton Serves working for Sustainable Living Ottawa East (SLOE).  We worked to weed and clean up the Rideau River bed downtown for an entire afternoon.  I especially enjoyed this experience because it was very results driven; it was easy to see from the many families and individuals that stopped to chat with our group the importance of this space to the community.  This year (2012) I applied to be a Team Leader with Carleton Serves.  I was very excited when I was accepted to the program, and could barely sleep the night before the event.  For me, the position of a Team Leader was something that I had aspired to for several years, so finally taking on the role was an honour.  I lead a group of other students to do yard work and general maintenance at Cambridge Street Public School.  My team directly impacted the lives of an entire community and several hundred elementary school students by creating a safer and cleaner play area for them.  Leading the team discussions was rewarding in that it helped my group and I to better understand the need for Community Service-Learning within any community and to explore the positive impact that we had made.  Overall, my involvement with Carleton Serves has been exceptionally rewarding, and I hope to continue my involvement with Community Service-Learning throughout my life.

Now the question arises: Why should you get involved with Carleton Serves?

Carleton Serves is an enriching program for any student.  It allows you to feel a greater connection with Carleton, as well as with the overall Ottawa community.  In my first year at Carleton I could never have imagined that I would make a noticeable difference in my community.  Now, I can see the effects of my actions every time that I pass Cambridge Street Public School or the Children’s Garden on Main and Clegg.  It is a good feeling to know that you can, and will, make a difference in many people’s lives merely through donating an afternoon of your time.  Carleton Serves also offers students the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and become further involved with the Carleton Community.  Plus, it is recordable on your Co-Curricular Record, and looks great on a resume.  Lastly, Carleton Serves can also help you to improve your team work and leadership skills, as well as your self-reflection abilities.  Overall, I sincerely hope that you look to become involved with the program; it has changed my life for the better, and I hope that it can have a similar impact for you.

Submitted by Adrienne Macdonald, a fouth-year international business student.

Learn more about Community Service-Learning initiatives at carleton.ca/csl


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