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Time well spent

Volunteering is own reward, says bureau co-ordinator

Zaren White

By Kim Wilton

In a few weeks the campus will be a flush with activity as crowds of first-year students enjoy orientation and the beginning of their university adventures.
Yet few will notice the countless hours of preparation and organizing that have gone into creating the activities and festivities that make up orientation.

Fewer still will appreciate the pivotal behind-the-scenes roles that people like Zaren White play. As coordinator for the Student Volunteer Bureau (SVB), Ms. White has spent the last few months managing the 250 volunteers involved in orientation.

Yet this is just one of her many duties as co-ordinator of the SVB. She also oversees the operations of Memorial’s volunteer resource centre. The SVB connects and provides students with information on volunteer opportunities on campus and off campus both in the community and internationally. Students can also sign up for the SVB list-serve, which alerts them to short-term volunteering opportunities in the community throughout the year.

In addition to its fall Volunteer Fair, and its Volunteer Day, the SVB offers the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP), which allows students to receive recognition for their volunteer activities by completing Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

Herself a gold level VIP recipient, Ms. White admits, “Volunteerism is a huge part of my life,” as her extensive volunteer history attests. This third-year student has been involved with volunteering since Grade 9. She has been heavily involved in the Memorial community, working as an orientation leader, volunteering at CHMR, writing for the muse, being a Memorial Ambassador, and being involved in the LEAP program. Her off-campus volunteer experiences have been just as diverse, ranging from performing with Shakespeare by the Sea to being an officer with the Terra Nova Sea Cadets.

Since March 2008, Ms. White has been co-ordinator of the SVB, which she describes as a “dream job” and “an amazing opportunity.”

She hopes to use her time to “increase the bureau’s visibility on campus, to strive for perfection in the provision of our services and programs, and to really impress the importance of volunteering on as many students as possible.”
Students are increasingly realizing the importance of volunteerism for their education and life experiences, and this past March, 143 VIP awards were given out to MUN students. To Ms. White, volunteerism offers a multitude of benefits.

“I think it’s vital for everyone, particularly university students, to capitalize on the experiences that are available to them”, she said, “Volunteering is closely linked to work experience so it’s extremely useful for one’s own personal and professional development. Also, to actively volunteer demonstrates a desire to contribute to something larger, and to be involved for intrinsic rewards, since there is no remuneration.”

In addition to her impressive volunteer resume and working full-time co-ordinating the SVB, this English honours student also has a stellar academic record. A member of the Dean’s list and multiple scholarship winner, Ms. White credits her volunteer experiences with making her a master at time management and giving her the ability to juggle school, volunteering and work. After gradation she plans to pursue graduate studies in English and eventually a career in academia, in a capacity that allows her to work closely with students.

As for any advice for the new MUN students who will be partaking in fall orientation, Ms. White recommends that they make the most of their university experience by getting involved in campus life through volunteering. It is “a fantastic way to make your mark, meet new people, and become a well-rounded individual.” It is also a fantastic way to learn a lesson she herself has learned, that every individual can make a big difference.