Katie Rasmussen is sophomore psychology major who focuses on issues of mental health in marginalized communities. She was raised in a family who taught her that service is, indeed, the "rent we pay for living." As a teen, she worked on international and national service projects in five different states. These experiences taught her that the root causes of social problems can best be resolved when those engaged in service collaborate with members of the community who live those problems. Her experience as a high school student in the Philippines, for instance, taught her that important service opportunities rarely see an entire solution come to fruition, but that service allows others to assist in the small steps vital to successful transformation in a community. From those experiences she saw community organization as a practical approach to solving social problems. For Katie, service is about "lending a hand to a greater purpose." As such she is collaborating with faculty and staff on projects such as a co-curricular event between UNF's LGBT Resource Center and JASMYN, a Jacksonville non-profit that supports young people from 13-23 to create a safer, more affirming community.
Service, and its many facets, were interwoven into my upbringing at a very young age. Many of my earliest memories are centered around service and social justice issues. By middle school I started PeaceJam and as a group we continued it through high school. "PeaceJam is an international education program built around Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody. Its goal is to inspire a new generation of leaders. I see a link to the work that I am now doing at the University of North Florida: this year and next. Shortly after arriving at UNF I was fortunate enough to become connected with the Center for Community Based Learning and they gifted me with a position as the team leader for over a dozen Osprey Community Ambassadors who work closely with community service organizations to bridge the gap between course work and service work in the classroom. We are in charge of transforming the campus culture: while 94% of UNF's departments offer community-based courses, our co-curricular offerings don't match that. So, as student leaders our role is to inspire the students to get involved out of class.