Course, Volunteering in DC Changes Senior's Life
A course designed to spark social change has changed the life of senior, life science/pre-dentistry major Courtney Kast. Courtney enrolled in the Senior Year Experience course titled, “Social Justice, Responsibility and Change,” and spent a week in Washington, D.C. visiting and volunteering at a variety of non-profit organizations in January 2013.
“I think this class has really helped me define something I am passionate about and really laid the foundation of my career path. Someday I want to work with underprivileged children who are in need of dental care,” Courtney said. “We sometimes go through our days not really appreciating the opportunities we have and not realizing that there are people who have nothing. I tend to look at things in a new light in regards to you cannot judge someone until you’ve met them and heard their story.”
The list of non-profit organizations, where the students visited and or volunteered, includes: Joseph’s House, a hospice house for those dying from HIV/AIDS; The Christ House, a healthcare facility for the homeless, Our Place DC, which provides gender-specific services and advocacy for currently and formerly incarcerated women; SOME (So Others Might Eat), a community-based organization helping the homeless; and more.
The class spent time on three different days volunteering at SOME, serving meals to more than 800 homeless individuals and listening to some of them share their stories.
“Hearing their stories really put a new perspective on how privileged we are. The education we are receiving here at Otterbein is something that cannot be replaced,” Courtney said.
The students also had the opportunity to visit with Otterbein alumni, including Doug Babcock ’93, who works in Senator Sherrod Brown’s office; attend the presidential inauguration and explore many museums and memorials, including: The Holocaust Museum, the World War II Memorial, the Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air and Space Museum, the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial, and more.
“This was an amazing experience. Visiting the nation’s capital has given me a newfound sense of American spirit,” Courtney said. “The volunteer work that we did really gave me a sense of meaning and awareness. It really makes an impact in the lives of people who benefit from the services at places like SOME. I’m so very thankful for this opportunity.”