Seniors give back through GIVEx
The first GIVEx speaker showcase was held on Saturday, April 21, by seniors looking to leave a legacy behind at GC.
The talk, similar to a TEDx talk, which is a TED talk happening at a school or organization, highlighted six cornerstones: collaboration, legacy, volunteerism, leadership, impact and community.
Senior Matthew Hood, a psychology major, was the main organizer of the event. He placed the theme, “Louder than words,” over the entire event and invited six alumni back to GC to give 15 minute talks about the different cornerstones and the main theme.
The six alumni, all from various years of graduation, were Madeline Olliff, Janelle Draper, Tracy Ide, Megan Edmonds, Jaime Newton and Jacob Zawoysky.
Major points of the talks included starting an organization that volunteers time to an animal shelter in Baldwin County, becoming organ donors, volunteering time and equipping those with the tools to succeed, loving bigger and becoming an impact in the now. These speakers left some in tears, while others shook with nervous excitement.
Jacob Zawoysky, a recent graduate of GC with a degree in mass communication, was the final speaker, and he left the audience with a challenge after his talk.
“I challenge you not to think about what your legacy will be one day, but to ask yourself what impact you are making right now,” Zawoysky said.
The aim of the speaker showcase was to highlight different individuals who have graduated from GC who have gone on to lead great lives while utilizing the service hours they received in college to launch their careers.
One of the speakers, Megan Edmonds, used the community service and volunteer hours she gained at GC to further propel her career in marketing at Goodwill.
She said that one of the big strategies of working at Goodwill is not just giving somebody what they need, but giving them the tools and the education to achieve goals for themselves. Edmonds stated that at Goodwill, they want to empower and equip the impoverished so that the community can grow.
Edmonds also talked about Resident Student Organizations (RSO’s) on campus. She said the goal of an RSO dedicated to community service is to instill strength in younger people so they can push the organization further after you leave, so no matter who comes through the organization, it will still be successful.
Janelle Draper, another speaker, talked about how she started a nonprofit for girls to learn how much they matter by teaching them steps toward raising their self esteem and learning how to be adults. Draper said that service is not the endgame, but how much your life matters. She mentioned that she and her husband just became approved to be foster parents, ending with the following question: “What will you do to love bigger?”
“[This event] made me really want to do more with the GIVE center and be more of a leader,” said freshman Allison Harbin, a history major who attended event. “I really do want to make a difference and make an impact here and not just be another random student that passes through and doesn’t leave anything.”
Hood said that GIVEx was his brainchild. He has been working on it for the past few months, and several hours of planning went into putting on the event.
“I mean, I was proud before it started,” Hood said. “Just the fact that we got here today—that’s unbelievable. I’m incredibly happy with the turnout, and the speakers’ quality was unbelievable. It was cool to see how everyone kind of took it in their own direction; No speech was the same.”
There are plans for a second installment of GIVEx next year, which will be put on by junior Carrigan Flotlin, a special education major.
“For me, I feel like [GIVEx is] an incredible way for people to come together and hear other people’s stories, and hopefully it will help them define their own because I think each person connects to what they are passionate about and each person has their own gifts,” Draper said. “By an event like this, when you are hearing other people talk, it inspires you and sparks you to look within yourself to see what it is you have and what you can contribute.”