LENS Dispatch

Committed to Service

Alumni Take the Passion for Good Works into Their Communities

Headshot of Case Western Reserve University alumna Megha Srivastava Megha Srivastava

A volunteer experience in college is not soon forgotten. Betsy Banks, director of Case Western Reserve's Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL), believes community service has the power to broaden horizons, inspire goals and even influence careers. How does she know? Every so often, an alum tells her it's true. Two of their stories follow.

Megha Srivastava (CWR '14) earned bachelor's degrees in anthropology and nutrition. But she also carved pumpkins with refugees, packaged meals at the Cleveland Food Bank and played games with children at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Now, she's in her third year of medical school at Loyola University Chicago.

"When I started college, I didn't know what I wanted to be—maybe something in the health-care field, but I didn't know what. At Case [Western Reserve], I feel like I got opportunities to have all these different experiences. There was an emphasis on really volunteering, on learning about the community and your place in it. I ended up choosing medicine through this process. It made me passionate for public health, for global health. I think about this frequently."

Derek Schadel (CWR '14) majored in anthropology and Spanish. He was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English in Colombia, where he is now program director for Volunteers Colombia in Bogota, managing the country's second-largest volunteer teaching initiative. He described by email the impact of his volunteer roles.

Headshot of Case Western Reserve University alumnus Derek Schadel Derek Schadel

"I was heavily involved in [CCEL]. I started out as a CCEL Fellow my freshman year and served at Esperanza Inc., a nonprofit on the west side [of Cleveland] geared toward Latino youth. Prior to studying at Case [Western Reserve], I had never been to Cleveland, and this opportunity to volunteer off campus gave me a way to connect to a local organization and learn more about the city.

"I completed a community-development and youth-leadership exchange as a volunteer in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2011 and as a project supervisor in San Pedro, Paraguay, in 2012. … Without a doubt, my volunteer experiences have shaped the professional I have become today."

—Robert L. Smith