“Service has been a direct route to the development of crucial leadership skills—public speaking and working well on a team—and it has helped me learn about the world around me.”
“If I chose not to serve,” says Shavonne Mostella, “my life would be—in a word—purposeless.” One of eight students honored with the Student Profiles of Service Award by the Center for Civic Education and Service, she says, “I have been incredibly blessed. It would be a shame if I did not do all I could to bless others.”
Yet, service is not simply sacrificing ourselves; we also gain. For Shavonne, “Service has been a direct route to the development of crucial leadership skills—public speaking and working well on a team—and it has helped me learn about the world around me.”
Her first venture outside the U.S. was on a community service trip to Panama with the Alternative Break Corps in May 2005—the “most eye-opening experience” of her life. A lover of the Spanish language, Shavonne was able to immerse herself in the culture. “We held, fed, and re-furbished cribs for malnourished babies at the Nutre Hogar Clinic. With so many smiles from the staff, there was no question we had made a difference. But my life will be forever impacted by something I will never be able to explain fully—comforting the little boy with a cleft palette or calming the wailing, tiny, too-thin baby with cerebral palsy. They continue to inspire me to work with all my heart to improve the lives of children.”
Majoring in Elementary Education, Shavonne has always found it easier to relate to the young. “Small children have a special way of looking at the world. From the time I was 12, I have worked in church nurseries, daycares, and elementary schools. One day at the campus daycare, I made a mistake on something, and one of the three-year-olds said matter-of-factly, ‘That’s OK. It happens.’ Imagine, a three-year-old consoling me!”
She believes that “if you teach elementary school, you get a chance to instill good things and to nurture our country’s future doctors, lawyers, and college presidents.” Knowing this, Shavonne takes her studies seriously. She’s maintained a 4.0 GPA, appearing on both the Dean’s and President’s lists every semester.
In the future, she will pursue a master’s in Multicultural/Multilingual or Urban Education. Then, plans “to participate in the Teach for America program or teach underprivileged children who are minorities and/or recent immigrants to the U.S.
“Despite some of the horrible situations that many young children come from, a classroom can be a safe and happy place for them—at least for 8 hours a day.”