Carroll Community College student Joy Zimmer, of Eldersburg, was recently selected as a Newman Civic Fellow for her work in public service at the school and in her community. Each year, 200 college students are awarded this prize, given by Campus Compact, a coalition of college presidents dedicated to public service. The Times caught up with Zimmer to discuss her volunteerism.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about how you were chosen as a Newman Civic Fellow?
A: A Newman Civic Fellow is a person who has experience with public service, and I do a lot of things in terms of serving others. Over the summer, I worked in the community garden, which grows food for low income families; I'm the president of the service learning organization on campus, and at my church, I'm a small group leader for the Sunday School.
Q: Is public service something you've always been interested in?
A: I started doing it when I was in sixth grade, when you had to have the service learning hours to graduate. After that, I kept doing it because I really enjoyed doing it. It's something that just followed me into my college career.
Q: What's the value of serving others?
A: For me, it really has come down to my faith. I'm a Christian, and Jesus' whole ministry was built around serving others. It's important to put others before yourself. You never know when you're going to need help. I've needed help in the past, and I've been glad to receive it.
Q: What do you do in your role as the president of the Service Learning Club?
A: I organize a lot of the events we do, and I'm responsible for promoting our events. One of our events was we went to the Boys and Girls Club and I organized what we're actually going to do there. I got there early to help set things up. We've also worked with Habitat for Humanity and I did the same kind of organizational work.
Q: I understand you're going to Guatemala on a service trip, how did that come about?
A: I've wanted to go on a mission trip with my church for a while now, but things kept getting in the way. Last summer, I had summer classes. This year, I applied and got accepted, so we're going to Guatemala. We're going to an orphanage and are going to hang out with the orphans. While we're there, we going to do service projects, and we're also going to go to a place called the Ravine School and help with the school work. It's really just about loving other people and helping them out.
Q: In your letter to the Newman Civic Fellow organization you said you want to focus your work on children, why is that?
A: I want to be a teacher, so a lot of my service projects are oriented towards children. I've always loved children. In the seventh grade, I worked in the church nursery. I've worked with summer camps, and last year I mentored a third-grader. It's always something I've enjoyed doing.
Q: What is the service project you're most proud of?
A: My favorite service is when I mentored the third-grader. I visited her once a week and I got to see her grow and do better in school and do better with her peers. It's not a one-time thing. You get to see the growth happen, which is what I want to see as a teacher as well.
Q: Why is working with children so important for you?
A: Children are the world of tomorrow. If we don't help them make a difference our world will be a crappy place. I had a lot of good mentors as a kid. If I didn't I wouldn't be where I am today. I want to give back.
Q: Who were your mentors?
A: My parents were really strong mentors. I struggled with school in elementary school. If they weren't there, I would have failed out of school. My fifth grade teacher ... was also a good mentor and helped me do well. [We were taught] about bullies and told ... that its not your fault if kids are bullying you.
Q: Anything you want to tell people about public service.
A: Serving others is really easy, and if you want to get involved, try and do something that interests you. I love children and that's what interests me. If you're interested in working on houses, work for Habitat for Humanity. Just find your passion.
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