This time last year, I had no idea what made me feel alive, I wasn’t sure where I was meant to be, and I had no clue what a fiery passion in my heart could ever feel like. I was a freshly 19 year old college freshman who had literally just bombed my first semester (My GPA was a 1.9), I was on academic probation, I was lost and confused and after I realized I wasn’t smart enough or dedicated enough to be a doctor, I didn’t know what I was smart enough or dedicated enough to be. This time last year, I came in contact with a group at OSU called Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection (BCEC), and through BCEC I began volunteering at a number of site with an abundance of incredible, passionate people. The first site I ever volunteered at was a Juvenile Correctional Facility and looking back, it has completely changed and shaped my entire life. One Saturday, as I was there hanging out and having discussion with the youth that I have grown to absolutely love and care for, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion. I was filled with such a joy seeing them laugh, relax, interact and open up, I was filled with deep sadness at the lives they were thrown into, the lack of options most of these young men had growing up, I was filled with a desire to affect their lives and to help them, I was filled with confusion and bitterness at the world and the cold people who have turned their backs on this population of people, I was filled with love for these boys, a kind of love that has deeply changed me. In this juvie, I found my passion. This time last year I walked through the doors into a room of youth and volunteers having no expectations, no understanding of what my life could become because of this extraordinary group of people. Today, my heart is different because of the kids that a lot of people on my Facebook feed are quick to blame for every single one the problems in our country. Onlookers want to shame the “gang bangers”, the kids out in the streets, but no one stops to think of the bigger issues at hand. Here are kids with no family, no love, no opportunity, no education, no options, and no help. They have no one to encourage them and tell them they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. Here is a population of young people who are written off as statistics, they are counted out, and they are left in the cold while the rest of the world forgets them because society is too busy with their own lives to love the lost ones. I have changed, in mind, spirit and heart, and I have chosen to dedicate my life to serving the population of people who had no one teach them any better than to be whom they are. My heart aches for the sadness, the poverty and the lack of educational opportunities in our communities. I have found purpose and happiness in working to change lives. BCEC has given me some incredible opportunities outside of just volunteering in the juvie. I have been all over the city, working with every age and population, being led by the greatest people I know. I wanted to say thank you to the people and the organization that changed my life. In the last year, I have been taught what passion not only looks like, but how it feels. I am feeling beyond blessed to have this heart and this joy for service and I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life. I encourage each of you to go out, serve your community, volunteer, reach out, change lives and see just how much your life changes too.