I met the 2014 President of Beat Bama Food Drive (BBFD) fall 2013 during my first year at Auburn. During our first conversation Sarah told me about BBFD, the mission of the food drive and how the food drive works.
Beat Bama Food Drive is an annual food drive competition against the University of Alabama to see which university can collect the most food for their respective regional food bank. Since 1994, BBFD has collected over 3 million pounds of food for the Food Bank of East Alabama. The Food Bank of East Alabama distributes food to food pantries agencies in seven counties in the East Alabama region.
When I met Sarah, the 2013 BBFD was about to take place. During that fall I participated in the drive by donating food to the Auburn University Marching Band’s collection to support BBFD. I decided the next spring 2014 to apply for a position within BBFD.
Having experience working with a 5k run in my hometown, I decided I would apply for the Director of 5k position. As Director of 5k for 2014, I with the help of my assistant director, planned all aspects of and executed a 5k run to contribute to BBFD’s monetary collection. With my assistant director, we designed t-shirts, solicited sponsors for the 5k whose logos were printed on the t-shirts, had medals made for the winners of the 5k, organized electronic timing for the 5k, ordered bibs (those numbers runners pin to their shirts), requested a bagel donation from Panera Bread, and executed the 5k on Nov. 2, 2014. In 2014, BBFD collected 198,041 pounds of food for the Food Bank of East Alabama.
The next year I applied for and was selected as the Vice-President of Event Coordination. As Vice-President of Event Coordination I was responsible for six directors working as part of the events committee. The events committee orchestrated all of the events related to the food drive. Projects included four restaurant benefit nights where a portion of sales benefited the drive and activities on our campus pedestrian concourse to raise awareness by engaging students by selling BBFD t-shirts and hosting exciting activities. Other events included an online eBay auction of autographed Auburn sports memorabilia. In 2015, BBFD raised 211,625 pounds of food for the Food Bank of East Alabama beating the University of Alabama in the 22nd Annual Food Fight.
During my first year of undergraduate study, I enrolled in an American government and politics course that required me to obtain four hours of experiential learning per month of the semester. The professor’s goal was to encourage students to immerse ourselves in the community in which we live. In order to obtain community service hours to fulfill the experiential learning component of the course, I volunteered within the Auburn community through IMPACT, the campus student volunteer organization.
For the majority of my life I participated in a wide variety of community service activities in my home town through Boy Scouts. When I arrived to Auburn, I wanted to connect with the people in my new community, and I feel that my service experience has provided me perspective on a number of socio-economic issues here. Youth education, including literacy and math skills, as well as food insecurity are challenges the Auburn community faces.
At the end of my first year at Auburn I applied to be an IMPACT project coordinator (PC). Project coordinators lead student volunteers each week to a project site. IMPACT is an acronym that stands for “Individuals Moving People and Community Together.” My first project as an IMPACT PC was the Boys and Girls Club of Lee County – Auburn Unit. Every Monday of that semester I led Auburn undergraduate volunteers in tutoring and assisting elementary age students with their homework. We also completed any tasks requested of us, whether that was mopping the floor or organizing a toy closet.
For the next three semesters, I served as a PC at the Community Market of East Alabama, an agency operated by the Food Bank of East Alabama. At a typical food pantry those suffering from food insecurity normally receive a brown paper bag already filled with various foodstuffs and have no real choice in what food they receive. However, at the Community Market clients facing food insecurity make an appointment, come to the market, get a shopping cart and choose for themselves the food they and their family will eat.
Each week for three semesters I have gone to the Community Market with student volunteers where we completed the main task of stocking the market’s shelves. In addition to stocking shelves, I have also led volunteers in sorting food items, cleaning, taking inventory and completing tasks requested of us from the Community Market director.
Being an IMPACT project coordinator was one of my favorite experiences during my time as an Auburn University student. It was fulfilling to know that I, all of our organization’s project coordinators, and especially our volunteers contributed to improving the lives of our fellow community members.
The first extracurricular involvement experience I obtained as an undergraduate was in the baritone section of the 380-member Auburn University Marching Band (AUMB). Never before had I participated in such a large organization that met four days a week for two hour rehearsals. The AUMB has four basic goals: to perform at the highest level possible; support and serve as ambassadors for the university, music department and athletic program; to enhance the game-day experience of football fans with entertaining performances and unyielding support for the football time; and to provide a positive, enjoyable and rewarding experience for band members.
During my two-years in the band I learned what it meant to be a part of something greater than myself. To hold myself to the highest standards of excellence in both music and marching ability and also character. I will always appreciate the long hours of rehearsal and the seemingly endless repetition of drill sets and musical phrases for the end result was always a quality show performed with friends who I will have for life. The roar of over 87,000 football fans cheering as the band ran out from beneath the stadium was incomparable and unforgettable.
While in band I performed at the 2013 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship, the 2014 BCS National Championship in Pasadena, California, and the 2015 Outback Bowl held in Tampa Bay, Florida. In addition to these trips, we performed at rehearsal clinics at high schools to represent our university and demonstrate the quality of our band program to future members and fans.
I enrolled in the Global Perspectives Learning Community my first semester at Auburn. The 19 students in this learning community were interested in exploring other cultures, examining current global events, traveling abroad and pursing a careers overseas. In the learning community we discussed global events, celebrated international cultural holidays and learned about available opportunities abroad.
After my experience as a student within the learning community I was invited back to serve as Peer Instructor for the next year’s students. As a peer instructor I provided guidance and support to first year students as they acclimated to university life. I attended every class and was given the opportunity to teach in addition to assisting the class instructor with class lesson preparation.