Prove your humanity


 

Life has taken a drastic change as soon as the pandemic began with most of us social distancing with the inevitable amount of stress that circulated our lives or perhaps still is. Some groups in particular have been hit hard during these difficult times. The elderly, those juggling jobs and children, families and friends, staff in the medical field and so many more. Volunteering at these difficult times has proved to help those in need, especially students who are in university. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a great friend of mine, currently pursuing Masters of Nursing at Curtin University, to talk about her experience volunteering at Curtin, Perth Children’s Hospital, and at an aged care which helped her get into nursing at Curtin.

The conversation with Susana gave me some insight into her experience with volunteering and how beneficial it has been for her. While studying for her bachelor’s degree, she saw an Instagram post on the Curtin Guild page about mentoring. She read about mentoring on Curtin’s website which gave her the opportunity to help students navigate through their university life. During the conversation, I asked Susana some questions about her time volunteering and this is what she had to say.

What motivated you to volunteer?

“Volunteering has truly been a life-changing decision for me. During the orientation week, I vividly remember seeing some students wearing a green T-shirt with a Mentor sign. I was lost on the day and I approached one of them and started talking to them about some of the units I have to study. I remember them guiding me through the timetable, where the classes are, and where I can get additional help. This really attracted me and I was really impressed with how much help I got from the mentors. I knew that there were many students in my place who needed help, especially during COVID-19 so I decided to mentor online.”

What was your most memorable experience of mentoring at Curtin and why did you decide to join it?

“I would say that networking with others, learning teamwork, leadership skills, and most importantly finding other ways to volunteer was the most memorable for me. I was finding it quite hard to find a job and I thought volunteering would be a great place to start. Later on, it really helped me out with my studies as well. I learned some transferrable skills like teamwork and communication.”

How did you get into the Master of Nursing through volunteering?

“Getting into it was quite hectic for me actually. I actually managed to make a lot of friends doing mentoring and one of them suggested that I sign up on the Curtin Volunteering page and there I found some opportunities to volunteer at the Perth Children’s Hospital. They were looking for people to assist nurses and graduate students who would be interested in health care. I took that opportunity thinking how difficult it must be for hospital staff to be working during a global pandemic. I volunteered for about six months while working and based on work experience and portfolio, I managed to get entry into Masters.”

Susana never really knew what she wanted to study so she went for the Bachelor of Commerce but in her second year she wanted to pursue health sciences however did not have the grades and background knowledge or the prerequisites for her degree. She then talked to some counselors at Curtin who recommended that she signs up for the volunteering programs offered at Curtin. Health science was her passion and volunteering is what got her close to it. It opened up opportunities for her which she had never imagined. It helped her cope with stress better and feel more comfortable.

A study published in 2020 in the Journal of Happiness Studies found after examining nearly 70,000 participants that those who volunteered were more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall mental health to be better. Volunteering as a university student is a great place to start and Curtin provides students with the flexibility to fit this alongside their studies. In a busy world today, where we are striving for that financial stability, volunteering can prove to be a great way to build professional skills. Many graduates fail to find jobs after graduation simply because they haven’t had the time to build those essential skills needed to work in a professional environment. In a current study, it was found that people of ages 16 to 24 and 55 to 74 are likely to find volunteering beneficial in building social connections.

Similarly, like Susana, volunteering can begin just by signing up at University and Curtin provides students with ample of them. The mentoring program is something to consider if teaching is something a student is looking into. It will help in building great leadership skills, teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills. The student ambassador programs are great for helping students guide through their queries and questions and network with peers and staff. Curtin has a volunteering program for students to sign up to where they are notified about opportunities through email alerts, they may be interested in. All pieces of information are available on Curtin’s website and the student guild website.

Life is unpredictable and one never really knows where this can get you. A simple kind deed can get you far or perhaps it can get you one step closer to your dream sometimes! Like the famous quote goes, “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless,” Sherry Anderson.