Written by Drew Wofford
Just last week, I was approached by a friend of mine whose employer’s daughter had been accepted into the Chancellor’s Honors Program (CHP). The employer was curious as to whether it would be worthwhile for his daughter to follow through with the program and wanted to know my opinion. At that moment, I was forced to reflect on the impact the CHP has had on my time at UTK. I could not imagine how different my college career would be if I was not involved with the CHP. The requirements to be actively enrolled in the program have encouraged me to go beyond the scope of what I understood to be the path of a typical college student. My involvement with the organizations, friendly faces, and other components of the program have helped motivate and mold me as a person. I hope that it has also helped me impact other members of the community along the way.
As a first-year student, I joined the Community Service Committee on a whim, not really knowing what my responsibilities would be or even that it was a sub-committee of the Chancellor’s Honors Program Honors Council. The goal of the Community Service Committee is to organize and execute service events for the students of the program, so they can work toward fulfilling their volunteering requirements. Because I had interaction with local service organizations as a high-schooler in Knoxville, I figured my experience would be beneficial to the committee. My spontaneous decision turned out to be one of the best I’ve made as a student at this university, as it aligned my goal of social responsibility with the mission of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. As a member of the service committee, I have been able to exercise and improve my logistical and organizational skills, while also being involved with local organizations.
The first event I organized was with the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley. We helped set-up and run their annual Halloween festival. I had worked with kids in an after-school program my whole life, so this was right up my alley. I absolutely loved seeing the kids laugh and have fun with all the volunteers that had signed up to assist with my event. Moments like that inspired me, and just like that, I was hooked. It was so satisfying to see the volunteers and organizers coordinate smoothly to execute an event that benefited our community. I couldn’t wait to see what our future service events had in store. Since then, I have had the pleasure to work with organizations like Knoxville Challenger Sports, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Beardsley Farm, and many more for the benefit of the greater Knoxville community.
At the beginning of my junior year, I was appointed as a co-chair of the Community Service Committee, which added to the responsibility and accompanying satisfaction of organizing service events. Having to delegate tasks, hold meetings, and make sure to keep the ball rolling on events always keeps me on my toes, looking for ways to improve and maximize service opportunities for the CHP student body. A perk of being co-chair is getting to be a functioning member of the Honors Council. It has been very eye-opening to see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of various CHP events. Getting to work with the kind and motivated members of the Honors Council has resulted in connections and friendships that I wouldn’t have made otherwise.
Gaining leadership and service experience through the CHP is helping prepare me for life after college as I pursue a career as a physician. Because the basis of a physician’s duties is to help others, serving as a leader on a committee dedicated to helping others is a unique opportunity that has aided in my development of the personal and professional skills needed to be a successful physician.
In my mind, community service can be as beneficial to those who serve as it is to those who are being served. I’m thankful that the CHP has exposed me to so many opportunities for personal development through service. I’m also thankful to obtain first-hand experience in positively affecting our community. I will carry these memories with me as I encounter life’s personal and professional endeavors.