Nearly 80 Quinnipiac alumni will volunteer at 10 different work sites across the country on Saturday, April 5, as part of The Big Event. This will be the 5th year that Quinnipiac takes part in the Big Event and the fourth year that alumni have also been involved. A record-breaking 1,650 current students are expected to participate.
Amanda shared her experiences about her motivation to make the global community a better place:
I owe a lot to Quinnipiac. My four years there were some of the best experiences of my life, and between the studies, extracurricular activities and wonderful friendships I had, it truly laid a strong foundation for me before setting out into the world.
Throughout my life, I have always had a deep desire to better the lives of others. After graduating from Quinnipiac, I began my professional career as an occupational therapist and have been doing this work for more than 15 years. Nearly nine years ago, I made the decision to leave a higher paying administrative position within the small rehabilitation company I was working for to go back to school for a master’s degree in occupational therapy. I made this decision due a growing desire to better the lives of people on a more explicit, deeper and broader scale. I wanted to be able to step outside of the medical arena and learn more about what makes all of us as human beings thrive and flourish, even during or despite negative external factors.
Part of my master’s study involved an independent research project. I decided to explore the impact of a natural disaster on people’s life stories. I went to Thailand and became a volunteer English teacher for Thai children in a community devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I spent 10 months living in the area of Khao Lak, Thailand watching a community and its people attempt to rebuild their lives after losing their loved ones, homes, schools and local businesses. The time I spent living and working alongside a group of children, who had experienced such extreme losses, yet, were able to find joy in everyday life again, left a permanent mark on my life. These experiences made me grow significantly as a person and further fueled an already passionate desire to make a positive impact on the world.
I am now married and a mother of two young children living in the Boston area. Last year, I was deeply impacted by the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. I am a part of the greater Boston Marathon family. My husband and I met running to raise money for one of their charity organizations. My husband runs the marathon every year and last year, he was just two minutes away from the finish line when the bombs went off. That experience made time stand still for me.
This event served as a catalyst for me to take action and begin to carve a path to create real-time opportunities and learning experiences for young people in this country to develop compassion for their fellow man despite differences in color, background or circumstance and be able to have hope and confidence about their own futures. I believe we can teach people a different way to live, to empower people to create a better world for themselves and for mankind rather than live like a victim.
I am in the beginning stages of launching a non-profit organization, The Boston Strong Initiative. Part of our organization includes Global Outreach projects connecting cultures from across the world, such as in the area where I was living in Thailand. I have recently started a Sister School Project connecting a school in Massachusetts with an organization in Thailand who supports a marginalized community of Burmese migrants and their families living in southern Thailand. Despite the time commitment involved in juggling being a mother of two young children and working, I am compelled to launch this organization and these projects due to a strong sense of urgency that our greater Boston community is in great need of inspiration and hope as we approach the one year anniversary of the marathon bombings.
I am so excited and honored to be a part of Quinnipiac’s Big Event, a day of community service. I will be traveling to the sister school in Thailand for several days in early April to volunteer, conducting training sessions with the staff, helping out with the student activities and developing further plans for sustainable and long-term involvement. The aim is to be able to provide fun and exciting international service opportunities to students and professionals in the future, so even though I may be only one volunteer representing Quinnipiac this year, who knows what next year will bring!
To learn about the organization Amanda is supporting, The Foundation for Education and Development, go to www.ghrefed.org.