Follow Your Passion

Follow Your Passion

April 15, 2018 Reflections from Changemakers 36

Passion is important when serving others. What is one social issue area that you are most passionate about? Explain why it is so meaningful to you. What are two goals you can accomplish in 2018 that help push towards justice and equality in that issue area?


36 Responses

  1. Julia Fleming says:

    The two main social issues I am most passionate about are women’s rights and access to education. Its so frustrating that even after so many years men are still favored over women for many tasks, jobs, etc. In addition, the objectification of women is really disgusting. On a global scale, women continue to face oppression. Even though we may not see this oppression every day, it’s always there.
    Education truly is the answer to so many problems. Education opens the door for jobs, adequate living conditions, happiness (sorry I don’t want to sound cliché), etc. I love school with all my heart and everyone deserves the opportunity to learn. Both education and a promising future should be accessible to everyone.
    In 2018 I can learn more about women’s rights and access to education. Also, at my service site I can encourage the kids to treat each other with respect: boys respect girls, girls respect boys, boys respect boys, and girls respect girls. Its a small action, but as the years go by, many adolescents and adults seem to forget the basics.

  2. Brendan says:

    Passion is important when serving others. What is one social issue area that you are most passionate about? Explain why it is so meaningful to you. What are two goals you can accomplish in 2018 that help push towards justice and equality in that issue area?

    One social issue that I am passionate about is reducing poverty, especially in inner city communities in Upstate New York such as Albany and Schenectady. I just think it is so unfair that children in some areas and school districts are at such a disadvantage compared to wealthier areas. Through my work at the Community Justice Outreach Center, I have learned a lot about how criminal justice policies can negatively effect people economically. For instance, those who are convicted of low-level crimes are less likely to be able to get a job when they have a criminal record. A person’s inability to be employed will cause further economic stress and make that person more likely to commit a crime in the future, which is the opposite of the intended effect of the criminal justice system. And if they are unable to get a job, they are at a further disadvantage when it comes to being able to provide for their children, or their ability to get healthcare coverage. I can try to push social justice policies in 2018 is to participate in the democratic process by writing to my representatives and voting in the 2018 elections, and making others aware of the issues. In addition, I can continue to expand my work at the District Attorney’s Office to help low-level first time offenders avoid the negative economic effects of the criminal justice system.

  3. Justin John says:

    The social justice situation I am passionate about is education. Education helps unravel a veil that helps improve the decisions one can make. The quality of your decisions impacts the quality of your life. Which leads to less unfortunate events such as incarceration, drug addiction, deaths, etc. Two goals I can accomplish in 2018 that helps push towards justice and equality in that area is: learning an effective way to help other people learn, and increase my own knowledge about inequality and social justice.

  4. Laniqua Mack says:

    Two social justice issues that I am passionate about is the education system and mass incarceration because those two topics go hand in hand. I am passionate about these issues because I have first hand experience with watching my classmates flunk out of school only to be locked away. I believe if the school system was more focused on helping the youth and actually enriched them than there wouldn’t be so many teens and young adults left in the hands of the judicial system. I think one goal I can accomplish is visiting my old high school to see the changes that were made since I last attended. If I can get an idea of what is wrong with my own school than I can probably find a pattern in the New York City department of Education. The second goal I can accomplish is getting back in contact with my school’s principle to see what changes need to be accomplished and how I can help with them.

  5. Gabby Tegiacchi says:

    The issue that I am the most passionate about is education, and how it is so often misused to belittle, discriminate against, provide low expectations for, or ignore the multifaceted talents and skills of students. Education is supposed to be about empowerment, about meeting students where they are at, and about pushing each and every student to reach his/her/their highest level of potential.

    It is through the education system that you can either meet your greatest advocates, supporters, and mentors, or go up against your biggest roadblocks. It is my goal (after I hopefully get hired) to seek to be the teacher who helps empower all of my students to succeed, but also pushes myself to be the best teacher I can.

    As I potentially head into a challenging school district (again–IF they hire me), it is important for me to remember to be genuine and approachable, to keep an open mind and an open heart, and to value the little things in a big way. All of these are lessons that Bonner has taught me, both through my service, in West Virginia, and in Bolivia. As I move on to new things, I will keep these lessons, my memories from Bonner, and my friendship with all of you close to my heart. Thank you all, for everything; and remember–everything’s fine!


  6. Kiara Woodward says:

    It is difficult to pick just one issue when there are so many social inequities in the world today. I am going to cheat a little and pick two. Two social issues that I am passionate about are access to education and homelessness. Having a place to call home and an education to advance you in life are both essential to the human experience. A life could be made much easier with these two factors on their side. I consider a home and education to be basic human needs that should be met for all people. Two goals I can set for myself is getting more informed in the issue areas and taking action steps.

    Everyone have a wonderful summer and productive finals week!


  7. Kathryn Casey says:

    This is a difficult question to answer because when asked what I’m passionate about a slew of different issues and social injustices come to mind, but the one that sticks out a little more than the rest is the devastating cycle of poverty that affects our nation. At the beginning of the semester, I really didn’t have a good handle on how this cycle worked and there is still a lot I do not know about it. However, what I have learned about it really opened my eyes to how sheltered I’ve been as well as how little I know about my surrounding communities. It’s also made me view laws differently. When I was younger I didn’t care much about laws or policies I just knew I had to follow them. I never thought about changing them but now I think there needs to be reform because obviously, the system we have now isn’t working. About 12.7% of our nation is living in poverty and while that doesn’t seem like a large number that is around 44 million people. So many people get stuck in this cycle and its not their fault. While this is a huge issue and I can’t think of a way I could directly get in there and solve it. I can continue learning about how people come to live in poverty to figure out how people can break free from the cycle. Even though I’m a biology major and I may not know as much about policies or the economy or sociology as much as the next person I think it would be beneficial to learn about it and also to inform people on this issue. I feel as though there are a good amount of people that believe that all people in poverty are lazy individuals who didn’t work hard enough to be financially stable which is a wide blanket statement that isn’t the case at all.

  8. Kathleen Callery says:

    It’s interesting that this question is being asked because I know that it is apart of the Bonner application process. I am really glad it is being asked because I think it is important to remember our goals. I believe in my interview I talked about Mental Health and the stigma surrounding it. I was passionate about allowing people feel what they are feeling and providing support for them. I continue to think this is important. However, with this semester and with my Bonner site, I think I learned more about what people actually need. Just like any passion you need to work diligently toward following it. But what I learned this semester is that you also have to be willing to mold your work to those you want to help.

  9. Maya says:

    One social area that I will always have a passion for is mass incarceration. This passion came from my stepdad being imprisoned for twenty years. Although the crime he was locked up for was a serious crime there are many people in prison that are there for many years and for small crimes due to the racial system that we live in. Although things may not change with our current president there is always time for change and there are many organizations and programs that are starting to fix this issue area. Two goals that I have in mind that can help contribute to this social justice area are volunteering with one of the programs that focus on the issue area. Another goal is to write a letter and a petition to our government officials.

  10. Kierra Maggs says:

    Passion is important when serving others. What is one social issue area that you are most passionate about? Explain why it is so meaningful to you. What are two goals you can accomplish in 2018 that help push towards justice and equality in that issue area?

    I have always been passionate about helping others and genuinely making a difference in someone else’s life. One social issue area that I am passionate about is issues in the education system. I truly value education and believe that the children are the future of this world. Working at the Boys and Girls Club had opened my eyes numerous of to the issues that lie within our education system. One personal goal I have to push towards justice and equality with education is to help share and encourage my passion for education to showcase the importance of life long learning. Additionally, I wish to

  11. Justin Kenyon says:

    Two issues that I am extremely passionate about are access to quality healthcare and education. Having access to both almost guarantee a better life. Today, we have more quantity than quality. Having no quality healthcare for example is one of the causes of the modern day opioid crisis. The importance is to focus on improving what we already have instead of burning it all down and starting. As well as treating them as human beings instead of numbers on a chart.

  12. Shannon Stout says:

    My passions come from my love for Christ, to make His goodness known. I am passionate about celebrating the beauty of human life. There is such great beauty in knowing the merciful Love of God, and this has touched me in ways that I long to express with all whom I encounter. In order to do this, I will be answering the Lord’s call to enter the religious life and sharing this love with the youth! I am super stoked about this.

    I just want to take this little space to thank you all for an amazing past three years. You have all been such a beautiful family to me and I am so blessed to have gotten to know you. Your passions continue to inspire me. Thank you for helping me to understand more fully, the beauty of our Lord. Know of my continued prayers for you all. God bless you!

  13. ecli vazquez says:

    One social issue that I’m very passionate about is homelessness. The reason towards why I’m so motivated is because when I was younger I was homeless for sometime. During that time I learned about the struggles that one must live through. Living at a homeless shelter was not easy because it was an environment that I wasn’t used to. But another factor was that since I came from Puerto Rico and my english wasn’t good. One goal for me is to provide more awareness because I feel that everyone should learn what homeless person daily life is and not let stereotypes make the judgement. Another goal would be is to help my community more back home because we are a struggling community that can have a bright future.

    LOVE and PEACE
    -Ecli Vazquez

    • Emma Henderschedt says:

      It is so amazing how you use your life experiences to motivate your passions. You are an excellent addition to the Bonner family and I can’t wait to see how you change the world!

  14. Jordan Thompson says:

    One social justice issue that I am most passionate about is food insecurity. Growing up as someone who knew what it was like to go to school hungry, living off the limitations that food stamps allows a family to get, and not having free lunch, often I found myself eating things I hated or even going without. This year, two goals I want to achieve are to educate the future generations on what the food desert is in the Capital Region and how they can get involved, I can do this by working with the Youth at St. Pius and I also want to volunteer my Saturday mornings at Capital Roots on the farm on eighth street, helping them plant, harvest, and sell their veggies and fruits at the farmer’s market. Two goals may seem so small in the grand scheme of things, but imagine if everyone in the world just did two things… the change would be immeasurable.

    B-Love always,

  15. Nicole Pazarecki says:

    I am very passionate about helping others and there community. I do not have a specific passion because I am willing to help all those in need and in service. Throughout 2018 I hope to continue doing community service projects in the summer. Also to donate and raise awareness for non-profits in my community.

  16. Liliana Sanchez Adames says:

    The social issue I am most interested about is Hispanics in the word of healthcare. I have family that are intimidated by doctors in the United States because they are not understood given the fact that they can’t speak English very well or because of their thick accent. Now that I work with doctors every weekend I was able to see that not only my family goes through this but other people from different cultures and countries have the same problem. Instead of doctors trying to understand or find a way to help those in language disadvantage out, they give a simple diagnosis like an uti or the flu and call it a day. Doctors dont really pay attention or try to understand what their foreign patient is trying to say which in most cases are symptoms related to bigger and most dangerous diseases such as a stroke or a pulmonary disease. Now that I am a scribe and that I know Spanish and English very well, I will be the voice of those Hispanic patients.

  17. Emma Henderschedt says:

    A social issue that I am very passionate about is the mass incarceration problems in our country and specifically the challenges the men & women face after finishing their incarceration term. Over the last 40 years there has been an over 500% increase in the number of people put in prison. The statistic that upsets me the most is that Blacks and Latinos/as make us 37 percent of the US population but they make up 67% of the prison population. Blacks are 6 times more likely to be incarcerated then Whites. These criminal justice issues upset me because I find it hard to believe that there is “justice” within this system if these statistics are so unsettling.
    One goal that I have is to use this passion to help motivate my capstone. While I will be conducting research on the victim’s of cases, I am hoping that I can continue to educate myself on this topic. Second, I want to and will go to Law School. My hope is to graduate and become a civil rights attorney, defending people against injustices regardless of their race, religion, ability, socio-economic status, or more. I hope that my passion for justice and love for people will help motivate me during the course of the next four years.

  18. Everin Chacho says:

    A social justice issue that I’m very passionate about is the mistreatment of undocumented immigrants. This issue is very near and dear to my heart due to the fact that I know people who have had to suffer these mistreatments by the generalized public based on a generalized viewpoint. This generalized viewpoint that has created the illegal immigrant to be seen as “criminals.” The majority of the population has been advertised that these humans who are risking their lives by crossing borders, rivers, and deserts just for the possibility of a better future for themselves and their families-Are doing so to steal jobs, do crimes, and to traffic drugs.
    The past couple of years I have been involved with an organization through my parish that helps illegal immigrants with the process of settling them into the country and being able to go through the system correctly. I plan to continue to participate in the organization back home during the summer. Two goals I have set for myself are to become more involved with the organization and the second one is to attempt to start up a similar organization to Siena College. From which I can inform more people about this topic and the mistreatment of illegal immigrants especially in our time and age.

    -Everin Chacho

  19. Kylie Gilbride says:

    I am very passionate about the concepts of justice and fairness; with these two ideals also comes accessibility. Accessibility is a concept that is relevant to everyone, whether something is, or isn’t within reach. Part of Castle Island’s initiative is making sure that education is assessible to all, despite any hardships. I believe that education accessibility something that is so important to be passionate about because once education is made accessible to an individual, a millions doors will be opened for this person, especially personally. Personal growth is something that is incredibly important for everyone, despite status, and education is a tool that can assist in this type of growth.

  20. Shadane says:

    I have deepened a passion for homelessness and access to adequate health care over the years. I’ve learned a lot in my accounting classes about how taxing health care cost can be and how homelessness intertwined with the need for health care creates a larger scale social issue. I have not particularly worked with the homeless population or health care reform in my time in Bonner however, I’ve been lucky enough to engage with Bonner’s that have. As someone who has experienced housing displacement to some degree, I am personally connected to homelessness and hope to push towards awareness and equality in this issue area by volunteering at Taste of Albany in two weeks. It is in benefit of our long standing partner, IPH, and serves as an opportunity for me to connect more with the issue area in a way I haven’t in the past!



    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      Taste of Albany is such a good event to learn more about the organization and the issue Albany faces. Looking forward to seeing you there!

  21. Kevin Ziobrowski says:

    One social justice issue I am passionate about is the refugee crises. As of recent it seems like this group of individuals is targeted more than ever, and the prejudice is disgusting. I have worked with refugees a lot, and having these personal connections makes me more sympathetic to the issue. The notion that these people are coming overseas to leech off the government or attack our nation is absurd. They are fleeing danger and we should welcome them with open arms instead of hostile ideas. Considering refugees often come to a new country with almost no one to rely on, it is important that we as a society help to support them and allow them to establish themselves. These are grateful hardworking people who are the victims of circumstance, and deserve a second chance, and its about time we started giving them one. This can be done by providing tutoring classes for refugee children, creating an accepting community environment, and assisting them in finding work.

  22. Nima Chatterjee says:

    A social issue that I am passionate about is climate change. Climate change is a global issue that is especially prominent currently. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is currently at a higher level then it has ever been, and this is due to the changing of the natural atmospheric greenhouse. This is meaningful to me, because the environment and state of our world and natural resources is something that I have always cared about. Although this is a complex issue, I believe that a lot of this is due to human activity. The issue of climate change brings up ethical and societal questions. The biggest thing that I can do is to bring awareness to the issue, such as bringing it up on blog platforms as I am now, and speak out about it. Personally I like to go about my daily activities in the most energy efficient way. In my home I use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent lights, I unplug my electronics when they aren’t in use, and try and reduce my food waste best I can. There is more that I can do to help solve this issue. I am currently reducing my carbon footprint, but I can try and influence others also. I can start by advocating for mass transit and getting others informed, because the best way to reduce climate change is just by being aware of it so daily changes can be made in people’s everyday lives.

  23. Amelia Butler says:

    I am most passionate about the issue areas of education and food access. Food access has really become important to me through my work at Capital Roots. I have become much more aware of my privilege with having access to the food I want. I have also become more aware of how lack of access to food affects people in different capacities. I am also learning about how food deserts come about and where they are located in the Capital District. Education has always been a passion of mine. I have always known that I was extremely lucky to be able to get an education. I was able to attend to private school for elementary school and again for college. I am also lucky to have parents that support me in my goals and aspirations as I continue towards a career of my own choosing. A lot of people aren’t that lucky. This year, I think it would be really cool to get more involved in helping Capital Roots to begin to expand some of their programs to more areas of the Capital District. I also would love to get involved with a youth program of some kind to encourage students to pursue a higher education because it is extremely important for children to have someone to encourage them to strive for a successful future.

    B-love Always,

  24. Meghan Conboy says:

    One area of social justice that I am passionnate about is access to healthcare and educational services, particularly for children with learning challenges and developmental differences. I believe that education is a huge factor in addressing issues of poverty and social inequality. However, for children with who struggle in school, especially as the result of a challenge or disability, education quickly becomes something feared, disliked, or ignored. If the family or school of child who has a special need does not have the resources to access doctors, therapists, and other services necessary to support their child, or the time to spend providing their child with assstance, the child can easily (and often does) slip through the cracks. All too often, the families and schools who are unable to provide resources are the ones who could benefit from them the most. In 2018, I have focused on learning more about this issue and working with one of my professors to learn more about childhood developmental differences. I also hope to begin working with my site to develop a capstone focused on the benefits of early intervention services and the benefits of various therapies and supports for children with developmental disabilities.

  25. Abby Hoekman says:

    One social issue I am most passionate about is mental health. This is meaningful to me as I know many people, family and friends, who are affected by the challenges mental illness brings. Knowing how difficult it is for people to combat their mental health even with monetary resources to provide themselves therapy or medication, it is unimaginable what those suffering from mental illness go through when they are impoverished and do not have those same resources to aid them. Most mental illnesses are treatable to some degree and can be greatly improved through ongoing therapy. Fortunately, I am placed at a site that understands the importance of this issue and has a program called “pros” which provides individuals with limited resources access to proper treatments and help. In 2018, I can be more mindful about the stigma placed on people with mental illness and speak up when I hear someone undermining these issues or making light of them in a fleeting complaint or phrase. Before we can help those struggling with their mental health, we must first as a community stop tearing them down with our words. Furthermore, I can learn more about the mental health program Unity House offers and see how I can be of assistance with their mission and better interact with clients who are struggling with their mental health. Ultimately, I believe everyone deserves to have a healthy state of mind. Having good mental standings can create opportunities to obtain jobs, which will hopefully be the solution to getting the individual out of poverty to then give them access to greater resources.

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      Such a great cause. Hoping that you find a way to get involved with the program at your site, it sounds like you’d be great for it.

  26. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    One social issue that I am most passionate about is food access. The majority of my work done at Unity House has revolved around food security and food access for those in the Capital Region. I have always felt very strongly about this issue, alongside the issue of homelessness as they are basic human rights that no one should have to struggle with. No one deserves to live in constant hunger. Some goals that I can accomplish in 2018 are continuing to work with the food security case manager to implement more sustainable systems. This includes limiting our pantry to healthy foods and providing programs for the community to learn how to care for themselves in terms of healthy eating habits. We have worked on creating handouts about different meals to cook and how to use healthy foods, and also community programs to further educate people on how to incorporate these habits in their everyday lives. Providing them with access to healthy foods in our pantry, but then focusing on how to maintain a more sustainable system rather than just handing out food is something I look forward to working on. In addition I hope to educate myself further in this issue area in the coming year by attending more regional food access meetings as well as participate in other collaborative groups to better our programs at Unity House.

  27. Marlie Frisco says:

    One social issue area that I am most passionate about is healthcare injustices. Many people do not have the ability to get a yearly check-up or can’t see a doctor if they are sick. The healthcare system that is currently in place lacks funding for everyone. It is a basic right to have the ability to keep your body healthy, especially if a significant disorder and condition is present. Two goals that I can accomplish in 2018 in regards to this injustice are understanding the major changes that need to be made in the system as well as doing research on what basic healthcare should cover and how that can happen.

  28. Kelsey DelMastro says:

    I have always been passionate about helping others help themselves. I want to provide individuals with the tolls and confidence to take the steps to bettering themselves. One way I hope to continue on with my passion is in my post graduate career. I have been applying to various jobs and organizations that share the same passions I do and I am extremely excited to see what comes of it.

  29. Heather Ryan says:

    One social issue I am most passionate about is domestic violence and relationship violence. I am most passionate about this issue because growing up in a rural, small town it is a HUGE problem that often gets overlooked, as most issues do, because people feel trapped and as though there is nothing anyone will do. Growing up in a small town witnessing these things, and having my own personal experience with it, has truly made me want to work toward increasing awareness about this issue, as well as others, as they pertain to rural areas– a topic that is less common in research than studies done in urban settings. Last semester I focused my economics “capstone” course project on domestic violence in New York with a focus around variables that keep people in violent relationships as well as the differences in domestic violence per capita in rural and urban areas. One of my goals for this year is to begin tweaking and bettering this project and ultimately being able to publish the work I have done in this area in hopes it will at least educate people that rural communities face these problems too. My second goal for 2018 will be in my new job. I will be starting a position with GE post-grad in July and will be relocated to any one of their offices within the US. I am looking forward to this new adventure and with it comes a new area. GE has a great volunteer and social ad vocally program which allows a certain amount of paid time off to work with nonprofits in the area. Once I get settled in my new home I plan to take full advantage of this benefit and work with a domestic violence focused nonprofit. This will broaden my perspectives and experience by allowing me to see first hand how these issues impact other small towns besides where I grew up and allow me to keep that doorway open for further research and further service work.

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      I love that you’re planning to stick to your passion and service work, even with your new job. I didn’t know companies did programs like that, that’s really cool!

  30. Dana Wakeman says:

    The issue I am most passionate about is women’s rights. Particular, I am passionate about women’s education worldwide. There are over 63 million girls around the world without access to education, which is denied to them simply because of their gender. This is important to me because we are fortunate in this country to receive a basic education and many receive higher education, therefore we must use our advantage to help others. In 2018, I will focus on learning more about the issue and educating others about the lack of education for girls and the benefits to a country that educates all of its citizens. Additionally, I will research more about organizations that help to promote girls education such as the Malala Fund in order to determine how others and I can best help address this issue.

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      This is a great cause. I’d be interested to see how you might be able to incorporate your research into the work you do at your site.

  31. Alyssa Lofaro says:

    One social justice issue that I am most passionate about is access to education. This semester I am taking “Teaching English to nonNative Speakers” and have learned about the educational differences not only within our country but around the world. Many refugees or immigrants come to America solely for the opportunity to have a “quality” education but in there efforts to come to our country they face dangerous situations like riding “The Beast” or having to come on there own and support themselves. All children no matter what age, race or nationally should have access to an education. Two goals that I can accomplish in 2018 is making this topic more known and widespread and educating others about it. Another thing that I can do is push for a better quality education here in the US. It has been proven that we test to much and put to much pressure on our students. Not only is access to education is important, quality is as well and we (the United States) should start taking advice from Finland and Norway who have the top education programs in the world, as well as the highest “happiness” ratings.

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