By Elizabeth Sekkes
In about four months, hundreds of students will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and degrees from Bridgewater State University (BSU). After the excitement has worn off, however, the question of what to do in life may heavily weigh on each student’s mind.
Unless he or she has already secured a job prior to graduation, the “real” world can look bleak and frightening to any new graduate.
The good news is Bridgewater State University has a post-graduation program, which allows recent grads to take a part in making a difference in the world through service projects and acts of charity.
From 1 to 4:00 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 19 in Burnell 132, BSU will hold a Post-Grad Service Fair, where interested students can learn more about the post-graduation program.
At the fair, students will be able to find out first hand what the program is about through talking with people who are involved in such corporations as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and Mercy Volunteer Corps, among others.
Ashlee Downing, the Program Coordinator of the Community Service Center, said just after graduation is the perfect time to become involved in the post-graduation program.
“I think it’s the best time to do it,” Downing said. “Right after college you haven’t started a career yet, you’re a little more mobile, you haven’t started your families yet. It’s a time to take your passion and put it into action.”
Hannah Taverna, a senior social work major and a member of AmeriCorps, said taking part in the post-graduation program benefits both yourself and the community.
“I think AmeriCorps is an excellent opportunity for post graduates to take a year or two and give back,” said Taverna in an email. “Not only are you serving a community and dedicating your time to immersing yourself within that community, but you are able to spend time growing as a person and learning more about yourself.”
Downing said within the post-graduation program there are various opportunities and time frames, making it easy for any student to actively participate.
“I don’t know if students realize that there’s availability to fit their passion and interests,” Downing said. “And what they can actually commit to.”
Once enrolled, Downing said the activities and goals of the program seem much more attainable when students are surrounded with other students who are likeminded.
“Oftentimes, you’re placed with other people in the program, so you’re living with people that have similar passions and values to you,” Downing said. “It makes changing the world to seem much more manageable. It shows that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and there’s hope. When you live with people that care about the same things you care about, it’s easier to connect.”
Moreover, Downing said many of the activities in the program are directly related to what the student has been studying.
“A lot of these programs do connect to what you’re learning in a classroom,” said Downing.
Downing personally took part in a post-graduation program, where she took an active part in service for the duration of a year. She has never regretted her decision to become part of the action.
“Doing a year of service has by far been one of the most impactful things that I’ve done in my life,” Downing said. “It exposes you to real life situations and problems that people are experiencing that we learn about in the classroom, but that you personally get to experience.”
Taverna, who is looking to do a year of service herself, first became involved in AmeriCorps though Jumpstart in her early days as a BSU student, and hasn’t looked back since.
Taverna went on to volunteer as a tutor for homeless children in her sophomore year. From there, Taverna has continued to be committed to AmeriCorps, and to service opportunities among the homeless and those less fortunate.
“I love AmeriCorps and their commitment to serving communities,” Taverna said. “I began researching post-graduate service opportunities and AmeriCorps was the first I applied to.”
Through the program, Taverna believes she will make even more of an impact toward those around her who are in need. She is currently applying for service opportunities in Florida, California and Louisiana.
“I really want to push myself and leave my comfort zone as much as I can,” Taverna said. “I’ve been on many service trips, so I think moving somewhere new and committing to serving a community long-term would be an amazing opportunity. I really want to give myself as much as I can and learn from the people I meet, and I’m hoping to grow as a result of that. I feel like this is the next step in my journey.”
Elizabeth Sekkes is The Comment’s News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.