There was a time in my life when my family struggled financially and the kindness of strangers made my family’s life a little easier.
Thanks to peoples’ donations, my sisters and I had presents under the tree for Christmas and food on our table every night.
I understand volunteering is important. My grandma, after retiring, spent the last 15 years of her life volunteering any and everywhere. She took me with her to different places to serve food, visit children in the hospital, donate food to a food bank, and wrap presents for unfortunate children for Christmas.
I was finally in the position to do my part and share my kindness by doing a charitable deed. I continued long after my grandma passed away and I know she would be proud of me. But in recent times I have taken on so many other responsibilities I haven’t had as much time for volunteer work as I would like.
A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail saying the graduation application for students graduating in May was due on the first week of October.
I have been in a whirlwind trying to make sure I meet all the criteria in order to send my application to the registrar’s office without getting penalized with a $75 late fee.
Well, it looks like I’m going to be paying that late fee. I haven’t completed my 45 hours of community service hours needed to graduate.
While talking about the fast-approaching deadline with some friends, I brought up how I haven’t finished my community service hours yet.
Then I was made aware of how some students complete their hours.
“I double-dipped, dude,” my friend said.
I was alarmed because first of all, we weren’t eating and second of all any double-dipping of any kind is usually gross.
“Yeah, I used my internship as my community service hours and for course credit,” he clarified.
“I did that too!” someone else chimed in.
To my amazement a majority of the people in class said they had done this and others were now considering the option.
Even recent graduates have told me they “double-dipped” when it came to passing off their internship as community service hours.
“I wasn’t getting paid for it anyway. No harm, no foul,” they explained.
At first I was appalled my friends and classmates would take the easy way out rather than do their part for their community, but I could understand where they were coming from.
Most of the students on campus are paying for their education, at least the parts the financial aid doesn’t cover. This amount varies from person to person, and for those of us who have to pay a hefty amount to attend UIW while also paying for bills and other expenses, missing a day of work is definitely not a good choice when relying on that money to get us by.
Students have busy lives with multiple jobs, school, coursework, social lives with friends and families. Not every student can make time for 45 service hours. While there are opportunities to get hours on and off campus, commuter students, which make up a large portion of the student body, may find it difficult to travel back and forth.
I have talked to many people interested in attending the University of the Incarnate Word, but the 45 hours of community service hours required for graduation seems like an overfilled plate when we add on the other responsibilities such as homework and work that come with being a student in today’s world.
Perhaps there is a way to still keep the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word’s ideas and values alive while still appealing to today’s busy students.
Maybe by allowing students to get a special award or cord at graduation for their outstanding contribution to community service will entice students to continue to provide a great service to the community, but not pressure others to do halfhearted work or lie about their hours.
My grandma told me once it’s not the quantity of what a volunteer does, but the quality. I think that is definitely true for some of UIW’s busier students. They still want to do quality community service, but the quantity is a restriction and we shouldn’t be penalized for it.
E-mail Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org