Jheanelle Gilmore was a freshman at Wolfson Campus when a friend tricked her into thinking they rented beds at Student Life. When she got there, Gilmore found no beds, instead she saw students volunteering for school events and activities.
“A bed brought me here,” Gilmore, a 19-year-old public relations major said, “now I have volunteered about  hours.”
Gilmore was one of the first people to participate in Student Life Helping Hands, a volunteer program. The program, which started in Fall 2010, is a volunteer project that allows students to gain service learning hours on campus while gaining hands-on experience. Program director, Gabriela Narvaez said it’s completely different from other volunteering opportunities.
“The Student Life Helping Hands program came about because a lot of students want to do volunteer work but their schedules don’t allow it or they just want to have somewhere where they can gain work experience,” Narvaez said. “When the [recession] hit and a lot of people were let go and positions closed, we thought maybe since we have so many students willing and eager to help—let’s give them the opportunity to learn and gain experience on campus.”
The program allows students to work as volunteers at nine different departments on campus. To apply for the program students have to fill out an application that can be found at the Student Life Department. Then they are placed in a department that best fits their interests.
“A lot of people think that you only do service learning outside of school. However, some of the students that are part of the Student Life Helping Hands program will tell you we have a pretty much hands-on experience,” Narvaez said.
The program also helps students get an upper hand if a job opening becomes available in the office that they are volunteering at. Gilmore now works part-time at the Student Life Department for pay. She said that the program helped her learn patience and how to behave professionally on the job.
“Anyone who can do it should jump at the chance because it is a whole new experience. It’s a really great opportunity to meet people with different angles and different points of view,” Gilmore said.