Making a difference in the community

Maddie Forshee

It’s no secret that Grand Valley State University students are heavily involved on campus. With over 350 student organizations and many volunteer opportunities, it’s not hard for a student to get involved.

Events like Make a Difference Day, which is put on by the Community Service Learning Center, take a lot of planning and organization to put on. There are entire teams of students such as the Leadership and Service Team that are hard at work helping faculty members pull off such events.

Kellie Howe, a junior at GVSU studying public and nonprofit administration with minors in business and writing, is an intern with the Leadership and Service Team, an organization through the CSLC.

Hailing from Bloomfield Hills, Howe is the MOCC/NCC of the Residence Housing Association in addition to her internship. In her free time, Howe likes to waterski, wakeboard and snowboard.

In the future, Howe would love to work with nonprofits that help children, such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She said she’s seen what it’s like when a child gets sick, and loves the fact that Make-a-Wish is there to support the family while helping the child have fun during hard times.

Originally Howe did not plan on attending GVSU, but said she was hooked after she visited campus and talked to an admissions counselor.

“The different service opportunities brought me here,” she said. “I’ve always been into community service and helping others.”

When she heard about the Leadership and Service Team internship, Howe knew right away that it was something she wanted to do. Since she was young, Howe said she has always been involved in service trips, preferring those to family vacation. Leadership was something she was involved with too, saying that it was ‘a no-brainer’ when it came to the internship.

“It’s just one of my passions,” she said.

As part of the team, Howe and the other four interns help facilitate and coordinate leadership and service events being put on around campus, said Laura Murnen, the intern coordinator.

“(The interns) are doing the behind-the-scenes work and also working the events,” Murnen said. “They make sure they go flawlessly.”

Howe and the other interns also do a lot of promotion for the events by visiting classes, tabling and even chalking sidewalks.

“It really is a team effort,” Murnen said. “We couldn’t get the job done without them.”

Each semester, each intern has to ‘head up’ two events. Howe chose a strengths-based leadership seminar and Make a Difference Day.

“I thought (Make a Difference Day) was the coolest thing ever,” she said. She chose the leadership seminar because she said she wants to be able to help people grow through being a leader.

Howe is really positive about her experience as an intern with the team so far. She said she’s had to learn time management and to really work as part of a group that she can turn to if she needs help.

“I definitely think (the internship) is beneficial for my major,” she said. “But also, you just learn to grow as a leader.”

Howe added that networking for jobs and being able to connect with organizations that she wants to work with in the future is a huge advantage.

She added that her favorite part of the internship is the team that she works with saying they are all there for the same reasons; they like to help out with service and are already leaders on campus. 

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