Our Volunteer Spotlight this week is Michelle, who has been volunteering with us for 5 semesters now! She learned about the TOPS Program from someone in her residence hall. “My first year at OSU I was struggling to find involvement in something that felt meaningful to me, that resonated with myself and the community and the things that I want to do in my life, and I feel like I was finally able to find that at TOPS,” she explained.
When asked how her time with TOPS has impacted her, she said:
One thing that TOPS really brought to my attention is the struggles that people with disabilities face because of society, not because of their disability. I’ve been able to really understand what inclusion means through this program and how I can incorporate that into my future and my career goals. I’m hoping that as a physician, I can help those who might need a voice and be an advocate for them. TOPS reminds me each day how much every person matters and should be valued because of who they are and not the obstacles that they face, and I am excited to be able to transition this viewpoint into medicine and research.
Her favorite memory with the program is the OSU Spring Concert last semester, where there was lots of dancing and even a friendly rap battle between her boyfriend and a student! Michelle has really enjoyed making connections with many different students. She encourages others to also volunteer with TOPS, saying:
I’ve actually been telling people about TOPS for the past few semesters because I think the program can really be transformational for many students. Each time, I always share little anecdotes about something that I did with a TOPS student recently to show how personalized the experience is. Your interactions and experiences with the students, volunteers, and the staff is what makes this opportunity unique, and I think that portraying that to new volunteers is a great way to let them see what the program is really about.
Michelle has spent most of her time with TOPS serving as a social coach, but recently starting educational coaching. Outside of TOPS, she is pursuing a dual-degree in Biochemistry and Environmental Public Health. She is also a Resident Advisor, works at the Student Wellness Center, and is involved on-campus in several other capacities. Her favorite spot in Columbus is the North Market, where she enjoys “having fried chicken, donuts, and Jeni’s ice cream.”
The TOPS Staff want to recognize Michelle for her passion for and dedication to the TOPS Program. Keep up the great work, Michelle!