Sophia has served nearly 400 hours with YVC while balancing a variety of other extracurricular activities. She served on her local Youth Advisory Board for two years and YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board this last year.
How did you first get involved in YVC?
I signed up over spring break in 7th grade at the suggestion of a friend. We did two projects together. I had no idea that I was getting into something that would later become such a big part of my life. From my first day at El Centro, I was hooked.
What are some of your favorite YVC projects?
My all-time favorite project was with a nonprofit organization called Save, Inc. A small group of about 6 Youth Volunteers and 2 Team Leaders worked for four days in a row on various plots of land owned by the nonprofit. The organization provides housing and assistance for medically and socially disadvantaged members of the Kansas City community. Though our manual labor was strenuous, the hours were long, and the summer sun was extremely hot, I enjoyed every minute of the time with volunteers, the interactions with tenants, and the service-learning with our Team Leaders. Other favorite projects that I have participated in include a semester-long after-school project at Head Start daycare center and a summer project at Rainbow Garden, a community garden in an area with very little access to fresh food.
What is one of your favorite memories of your time with YVC?
Definitely that same Save, Inc. project. I enjoyed it so much the first year that I signed up to participate again the next year. A full year following the first time I had been at Save, Inc., the volunteer coordinator recognized me immediately and gave me a huge hug. At the end of the project, she wrote me one of the nicest notes of appreciation I have ever received. The care and attention she puts into her job was inspiring and her attitude towards volunteering and the organization that she was working with put a smile on my face.
What influence would you say YVC has had on your life?
I cannot imagine my high school years without YVC. Whether attending YAB meetings on a monthly basis, spending days on end at projects over the summer, speaking at the fundraiser, or having a blast at the YVC Summit, I have tried to take advantage of every aspect of YVC. The hands-on experience with nonprofits in my community is invaluable. Every organization that I have worked with while serving with YVC of Kansas City now holds a special place in my heart. I have a better understanding of the problems facing Kansas City (and the world). Poverty, homelessness, violence — they are not easy. There are not simple solutions. But working with the nonprofits that face these issues from every angle helps me to understand how I personally can help.
How will you continue serving in the future?
I will be attending Georgetown University in the fall in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. I fully intend to participate in community service while in college. I believe that engaging in public service, impacting policy, and facing issues on a global scale is how I can best serve in the future.
Why do you think it’s important to give back throughout your life?
There is this feeling you get when you participate in something that is bigger than yourself. The world is more than just you. It does not revolve around you. Giving back is the best way to detach yourself from that perspective and open your eyes to issues that others are facing around you. Thanks to my experiences at YVC, I will continue giving back for the rest of my life.
Did YVC open any doors for you?
I spoke in a YVC fundraiser, which was invaluable experience for other public speaking requests later on. I have earned hours of community service unattainable without the assistance of YVC. I have served on the local Kansas City Youth Advisory Board, as well as the International Youth Advisory Board.
How would you be different today if you hadn’t volunteered with YVC?
I would have missed the opportunity to focus on things outside of school and sports. It forced me to broaden my horizons and made me aware of my surroundings. I have passed my love of volunteering onto my younger sister and even my younger cousins who have visited from out of town to volunteer with YVC.
What are your college/career goals?
I will be studying Turkish while at Georgetown. I hope to work in the public sector, potentially overseas, representing the US and impacting diplomacy. I know that Washington, D.C., is a community that welcomes volunteers and with the skills and passion I developed through YVC, I hope to make an impact there while in college.
How did you react when you found out you were the recipient of the scholarship?
AHH I was extremely happy. I was not expecting to get it at all — there are so many deserving youth that I have met during my time at YVC. I am so, so honored. Thank you to the Sloan family — the phone call from Julie Sloan was so exciting!
Thanks, Sophia, for all your service to your community, and congratulations on the scholarship!
The Sloan Scholarship will be open for applications once again in 2017. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to be the first to know when the application is available in February 2017.