Learn more about my service initiative, KindCarts! With a mission to help those at the James Cancer Hospital, Kindness on the Carts donates cheery pick-me-ups and stress-relief kits to patients in order to help foster a more conducive healing environment.
Mirrors Sophomore Honorary was an amazing time of my life—it gave me friends, experiences, taught me life lessons and sparked in me an idea, one that would build into a fire and a passion and the mark that I will leave at Ohio State. Kindness. I wanted to spread it, and my way was KindCarts Service Initiative.
KindCarts (Kindness on the Carts) began as service projects in Mirrors. As a Restful Nights volunteer, I traveled the floors of the James Cancer Hospital from 6-8pm, speaking with patients and giving them amenities, like earplugs and eye masks to make them more comfortable. The patients were so inspiring, smiling through IVs and treatments, through stressful days and sleepless nights. I wanted to do more. I wanted to give them a little pick-me-up, something to make their room and day a little cheerier. So many patients missed out on pumpkin picking, a common tradition and due to their treatments, live plants weren’t allowed in the hospital. As a result, I planned to create little paper pumpkins to celebrate fall and bring it into their room. The first project had only three volunteers working for an hour. We made 26 pumpkins.
It was perfect.
The pumpkins were gone within two hours, with patients asking for more. They broke out into grins, spent time deciding just where in the room to put it and asking how they were made. Those pumpkins meant more than an hour’s time. They meant hope and happiness, a quick grin and a short word that turned into a conversation about their families and traditions and loves.
From there, I sought to make KindCarts a sustainable reality. A way to continuously make pick-me-ups for the patients’ holidays, special occasions and everyday celebrations. Budgets and grants underwent multiple drafts. I applied twice for USG (Undergraduate Student Government) funding. I felt dejected but revived with each “We regret to inform you.” But, even as I sought support, I continued on, creating holiday cards and valentines. I networked and planned collaborations with Morrill’s 14th Floor Familia and MUNDO at OSU.
The last grant I applied for were the Honors and Scholars Academic Enrichment Grants. I have no words to accurately explain what I felt like to receive a “Congratulations!” that made the daydream real.
Since then, we’ve undertaken 10 projects and only continued to grow. We’ve planned collaborations with RAs and student organizations, with more currently being finalized. We even offer a program stressing the impact of grassroots service. You can see some of our creations above, from bookmarks, to stress-relief kits, to mini Hope Gardens. Constant improvement drives me to continue applying for grants to expand our tools, our scope. The next objective is to make the creation of rice bags possible. These pouches can act both as heating and cooling pads to control pain and discomfort, and would let KindCarts contribute to the patients’ physical well-being, as well as their emotional.
KindCarts is my way to give back. Along my way, I have been given so many hands, so many opportunities and so many small kindnesses. I want to return that to the community. Especially to the community that inspires me, a community that continuously needs sweetness and hope and light. There’s power in a bookmark. There’s power in a card celebrating the season, in a matchbox present with “You’re awesome!” written on the inside. There’s power in the dozens of volunteers who have given their time and in the hundreds of donations that we have made.
To some, this picture is just a group of crafts. But to me, this is warmth. This is a laugh; this is a kind word, this is meaningful. This is sunshine.
Before attending the Annual Leadership Conference, I had the chance to finally take StrengthsQuest and find out my top strengths!
Drumroll, please . . .
At first, this meant very little, so I decided to do more research and find out what these words actually meant. According to StrengthQuest’s official definitions:
“People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information. People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters. People strong in the Inclusiveness theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them. People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.”
A couple of strengths here surprised me. To me, strategy seems more business-minded, which is the last adjective that I would use to describe myself. However, with more self-reflection, I definitely saw how my tendency to find multiple paths to the same destination would fall into this category. I really identify with the first and last strengths: Input and Maximizer. Curiosity and a craving for knowledge have defined me since I was old enough to explore my crib, and since I came into my leadership style, bringing my passions and peers to their full potential has been a cornerstone of my philosophy.
Overall, taking StrengthsQuest was an interesting experience. Learning more about myself and my strengths has been helpful in communicating my leadership style and values.
I’ve been so lucky to be able to participate in so many different service experiences on- and off-campus! When students discuss service, many automatically think of volunteering in a soup kitchen or a food pantry. Yet, there are so many varied ways to serve, and the incredible impact that it leaves on the community, and yourself, creates a special feeling that only spurs me onward.
Up-to-Date as of May, 6, 2016
Honors Peer Mentor Training (2014, 2015, 2016)
REACH Suicide Prevention Training and Certification
Mirrors Sophomore Honorary Leadership Workshop and Retreat-Group Dynamics and Team Development
Instituitonal Animal Care and Use Committee (IUCAC) Training and Certification
Buckeyes Got Your Back Bystander Training
Big Six Organizations Spring Retreat 2014
Involved Living Facilitator Training and Certification
Big Six Organizations Fall Retreat 2014
Annual Conference on Leadership and Civic Engagement:Strong Leaders Building Strong Communities 2015
Big Six Organizations Spring Retreat 2015
Summer Undergraduate Research Institute 2015
Bringing Leadership Skills to a Job Bootcamp
Online Training for Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence-Training and Certification
Leaders Emerging and Developing (L.E.A.D.) Retreat
Annual Conference on Leadership and Civic Engagement: Life Links 2016
6th Annual Women’s Summit-Power of Me
Involved Living Organizations Retreat
Summer Undergraduate Research 2016
2016 Ohio College Personnel Association Careers in Student Affairs Conference
Midwestern Asian-American Student Union (MAASU) Conference 2018
Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute 2018
4th Annual Public Health Advocacy Workshop: Building a Road Map to Improve Mental Health through Advocacy
Living and Dying on Campus: Mimi Khuc
Working with Survivors of Sexual Assault: A Brief Introduction
Identifying & Responding to Human Trafficking: A Brief Introduction
Mental Health First Aid Training
Up-to-date as of 4/22/19
Today, I had the incredible opportunity to present my work at the Fall Undergraduate Research Forum! Researching the synergy of traumatic and chronic stress and the presence of a fairy tale musical formula may not always seem congruent, but they perfectly reflect my love of the arts and sciences. It was so much fun presenting about my passions, feeling the support of my family and friends and, especially, hearing about all the incredible work that my friends at OSU have done. From characterizing proteins in tuberculosis, to testing new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s, to determining humanity’s energy threshold, the strides that Ohio State students are taking are absolutely incredible and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. Go Bucks!
Every year, during the Ohio State’s Involvement fair, over a thousand registered organizations reach out to students to tell them their mission, their goals and what students can gain by joining. Many give out flyers, bookmarks or buttons to be remembered by. For some reason, buttons particularly speak to me. They’re small and utilitarian, but also creative and a fun way to display your passions. My button board, and the buttons I choose for it, shares parts of me with whoever cares to look.
I’m a woman in science, as shown by the confident woman on the right and my Neuroscience major button. But the book and OSUEnglish pins also show my love of humanities, reading for leisure and for my minor. I’m a Pilipina and I’m an Ally. I work to be socially and politically conscious and, like my little handmade minion, I stay optimistic. But the buttons I want to focus on are the Mirrors logo in the upper left and the Jubilee buttons on either side of the board.
I applied for Mirrors in the winter of my freshmen year, was inducted in the spring of the same. The first meeting consisted of the usual introductions, and an announcement that leadership positions would be elected next meeting. As the departing class elaborated on each position, I faced a dilemma—ambition vs. passion. I wanted to learn more about leadership, and so, was tempted to run for one of the executive board positions—president, either of the VPs, treasurer or secretary. But, near the end, a boy came up and spoke about his positions: Random Acts of Kindness Chair.
I immediately felt my spine straighten, my attention zoom in on the slide outlining the duties and the words Matt was sharing. I wanted it. I’d never heard of such a position before and it seemed to be everything that I loved—acknowledging other’s accomplishments, keeping morale up, contributing to the social atmosphere—being, as Matt nicknamed the position, the “Mirrors Mom.” It was everything I wanted—but not what I saw myself as.
RAoK Chair was simply that, a chair position. One part of me wanted something “bigger,” something that would look good on a resume and that could “give me experience.” But a stronger part of me wanted to be “Mirrors Mom.” I created multiple speeches for various higher positions, and on Election Day, I gave none of them. Every time a position was called, I thought about it, and I stayed in my seat. Until RAoK. It was the only position I ran for—and I got it.
Mirrors Sophomore Honorary was a large part of me finding myself as leader. My role didn’t have many duties, and after learning more about past officers, it seemed all they did was bake cookies and provide food. I wanted it to be more than that. Listen to the name: Random Acts of Kindness. I wanted to do something that would make a member’s day, and I wanted Mirrors to do something outside of the honorary, something to make a stranger’s day. I wanted to make a committee focused on kindness-driven service; I wanted to give everyone a chance to have a hand in planning a project if that was what they wante;, I wanted to work closer with the James Cancer Hospital and I wanted to live up to that name, Random Acts of Kindness.
Because of Mirrors, I became more confident in giving my opinion, taking initiative, and implementing the ideas I had. I was given the freedom to take the reins and expand the position. I became involved planning social events, creating service opportunities, etc. I made weekly shout-outs to commend my fellow Mirrors kids, created special birthday gifts for everyone and designed our first Mirrors buttons, as souvenirs for the members and promotional items for the cancer benefit ball.
I didn’t think anyone noticed the work that I did, or that anything I did left a significant effect on anyone. I was amazed when the class gave me my own shout-out at the end of the year. They, and our advisor, told me I was the best RAoK chair that they’d ever had, that I made them feel special and happy and proud to be part of Mirrors ’14. In my last days as Chair, one of my last duties was describing the job to the incoming class on their first meeting. Our president, Tyler, came up after me, and told them that mine was the most important positon and that the person following me had the power to define their Mirrors experience, as I had for them. I couldn’t stop thinking it about for the rest of the week, and to this day, I feel giddy when I try to fathom the impact that they say I had on them, and the impact that their words had on me.
Mirrors has left such a mark on my life, on who I was and what I mean to be. It helped me realize how I wanted to be remembered, and proved to me that the impact you make isn’t measured by your title, but by who you are.
I have had many long- and short-term service engagements throughout my time at OSU. I regularly volunteer as an Honors Peer Mentor in Arts and Sciences (now Honors Lead Mentor) and as a Restful Nights volunteer at the James Cancer Hospital. I founded Kindness on the Carts, a service initiative benefitting the James, and regularly organize and perform service through it. Mid-length commitments I have made include organizing and participating in the campus wide Blanket-Making Drive collaboration between ResLife and MUNDO and a service-learning trip to New Orleans, where we performed community service around the city. Short-term engagements I have had include Community Commitment, volunteering at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, and acting as a host for A Day in the Life of a Buckeye. In the summer of 2015, I volunteered regularly at Global Gifts, a fair trade non-profit, and became a Peer Research Contact, which I will continue throughout my college career.
I plan to continue to engage in the community by continuing my current activities and participating in new ones. I will continue to run KindCarts for the James Hospital, as well as volunteer with Restful Nights. I also plan to continue serving as an Honors Peer Mentor, participate in service-learning trips and take advantage of one-time opportunities OSU provides for service.