"It helped me see the overall picture of the Amherst area, rather than just UMass."
CESL Program: IMPACT!
Major: Earth Systems
I am a senior earth systems major. I chose to participate in IMPACT because in high school I was involved in a community service club called Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America. I was heavily involved in it from seventh grade up to my senior year. When I was going to be a freshman at UMass, I was looking for something that could tie in my experience with service. I stumbled upon the RAP options and saw there was a community service one. It seemed like a great way to continue with service, so I signed up.
IMPACT completely changed my definition of community service from high school to college. The high school program I was involved in was more about doing community service for the image, rather than doing community service as part of social justice. It’s the idea of charity versus service. You don’t just have to be able to give money to a program to do something good. IMPACT helped me see the importance of sustained service. In my view, the experiences you get from sustained service are a lot better, and you give back more than you could by just being able to write a check. Although sometimes writing a check can be helpful, it definitely made me see that distinction in a new way.
My IMPACT experience combined with my service experience made me feel more comfortable with the idea of going to a new place and being able to connect with people and connect with the town and community that I live with. I think there are a lot of times when you go to college, you live in the college bubble, and you almost forget you’re in an actual town with actual citizens who’ve been there a long time. Being at CAPACIDAD and getting to know the kids, and also their parents, through conversations at pick-up time and then bumping into them on the weekends at a store or in town, it makes you feel like you actually know people in the town, rather than just knowing people at this school. It helped me see the overall picture of the Amherst area, rather than just UMass.
I also have become a lot more comfortable opening up to people and telling them about my life than I was in high school. IMPACT gave me the grounding and foundation to realize that I could build relationships with people who were total strangers to me from all these different backgrounds and to connect with them. I would have a totally different life at UMass if I hadn’t done IMPACT, and I personally think doing IMPACT was for the better.