Celebrating the Senior Service Advocates of the Class of 2020
The Senior Service Advocate program in the Center for Community Engagement and Service was established this year to deepen leadership opportunities for graduating seniors already active in the Center and with local community.
Senior Service Advocates attended a leadership training program and mentored the 30 first-year, sophomore, and junior Service Advocates, planning and facilitating retreats for the Service Advocates, completing weekly office hours in the Center for Community Engagement and Service, participating in the development of a new strategic plan and new initiatives, all the while continuing in direct service with local community partners.
The Class of 2020 were the first Senior Service Advocates of Salve Regina. They are Alexandra Harkness, Olivia Alcott, Ethan Toomey, Caroline Parks and Kali Major. The Center for Community Engagement and Service celebrates and honors their contributions and accomplishments!
Alexandra Harkness ’20
Harkness served a total of 712 hours as a Salve student. She spent three years at the Salvation Army as a Service Advocate. Being a senior brought on many responsibilities, including internships, so being a Senior Service Advocate was the perfect way for Harkness to stay involved.
“If I could spend the rest of my life volunteering everywhere and somehow be able to survive financially, I would do it in a heartbeat,” said Harkness.
Harkness has supported the community by helping with major issues, including food/housing security, mental or physical illness, domestic abuse and smaller scale issues, like help with a math problem or shoveling a neighbor’s driveway. She does it all to bring a smile to people’s faces.
“Being a SAA was such a great way to complete my time with the Center for Community Engagement and Service,” said Harkness. “Most of my favorite memories from Salve are from the Service Advocate program and the people I met through this, so I was overjoyed to still be a part of the program my senior year.”
Olivia Alcott ’20
Alcott served 387 hours from freshman to senior year. Her positive experience as a service advocate encouraged her to become a senior service advocate.
“Being a Senior Service Advocate has given me the opportunity to lead other Salve students that are dedicated to service and help them to reflect upon their experience with this amazing program,” Alcott said.
Despite her busy schedule student teaching, Alcott led events in the evenings and on weekends to get more students involved in service while continuing to be involved herself. She strengthened her leadership skills and supported others in reflecting on their service experiences.
Alcott felts that being in a school as a teacher gave her a unique opportunity to know the children in the community and learn about their needs. Through volunteering, she can support her students outside of the classroom by participating in food and clothing drives.
Ethan Toomey ’20
Toomey joined the service advocate program as a junior, and he managed to complete 146 hours of service in just two years. As an SSA, Toomey co-lead the Warm Up Wednesday cooking in the Mercy Center and co-lead the various McKinney Homeless Shelter Meal Preps. He also participated in service opportunities, including My Brother’s Keeper. His role helped him develop leadership, task management and interpersonal skills.
“To me, being a Service Advocate means to lead by example,” he said. “It is not just a position at school; it is a way to live your life in all that you do. Being a Service Advocate to me means to strive to help those near us and in our communities the best we can. Sometimes helping somebody is as simple as smiling and saying hello.”
Volunteering provided Toomey with practice working as a team to accomplish a goal and taught him to better interact with members of the community; these are both skills that will serve him well in his career.
“I volunteer because I can and because I believe that it is the right thing to do,” said Toomey. “I am a Christian, and I believe that by loving and serving God’s children, I love and serve God. I believe that each time we do something good for somebody else, God smiles.”
Caroline Parks ’20
Parks completed 380 hours of service at her service site and on service immersions. Parks went to Florida twice, Jamaica once and participated in the Service Plunge. When she walked into the Center for Community Engagement and Service as a freshman, she had no idea how volunteering would alter her life path.
“Volunteering has influenced my career path tremendously. I switched my major to social work after I began volunteering because I became so passionate about helping others,” she said. “After participating in and leading the Florida immersion trip, I became really interested in working in the pediatric hospice and palliative care field after I graduate from grad school next year. Volunteering has really helped me find a field of work and population that I’m dedicated to and passionate about working with.”
Parks became an SSA to encourage and mentor younger Service Advocates and to share her love and passion for service with everyone else. “I’ve had the ability to mentor the younger Service Advocates and hear about their experiences and service sites,” she said.
Kali Major ’20
Major volunteered a total of 460 hours in her time as a Service Advocate and Senior Service Advocate. Since her freshman year, Major was dedicated to the soup kitchen. Major also demonstrated leadership in many ways as a Senior Service Advocate and she facilitated Service Plunge and Service Plunge 2.0. Major also co-lead the Service Advocate retreat and the Service Advocate socials, beside Alley Harkness and Olivia Alcott. Although Major dedicated her senior year to student teaching, she was still an active student in the Center for Community Engagement and Service.
“By serving others, you are serving yourself,” she said. “Doing community service brings light and joy not only into other people’s lives but gives a meaning and purpose to your own. The communities that I have built through service and the people I have met will forever impact me and impact my life. At the end of the day, we are all people, and we all need help sometimes, so sometimes we need to put aside our busy life and focus on bringing the light and joy into someone else.”
These five students went above and beyond their duties and maintained strong connections with the sites they served at throughout their undergraduate experience. They helped keep the Center for Community Engagement and Service student-centered and were a liaison between Service Advocates, community partners, and the Center staff.
The dedication to service, strong work ethic and positive attitudes the Senior Service Advocates demonstrated made the first year of the program a huge success. These students are examples of living the mercy mission. Moving forward, the Center for Community Engagement and Service can call upon them as alumni leaders in service.