AUSG President Taylor Dumpson spoke with incoming students at the Explore DC opening ceremonies on Tuesday, August 22 about volunteering, service and opportunity at AU and in the DC community.
Good Afternoon Class of 2021! It’s great to see some familiar faces that are excited and enthusiastic about participating in a program that not only fosters friendship but inspires life long service to the community. I congratulate you for taking time out of your Welcome Week to immerse yourself in the city that will cultivate your college experience during your time at AU.
I have 3 words that I hope you will remember.
Come. Serve. Lead.
These words are a constant reminder to me of how much power there is in creating positive change. They mean so much to me that they’re even tattooed on my arm.
The Explore DC program, is one that is near and dear to my heart, for it was in this program that I first experienced life at American University in the Summer of 2014. It was through in this program that I first traveled on the metro. It was through this program that I made my first friends at AU. And it was through this program that I first traveled outside of the AU-Tenleytown bubble.
In high school, participating in community service was something that made a major impact on my life. I felt as though by giving back to my community I would be able to change the world. Whether it was by collecting toiletries for local domestic violence shelters, or coordinating a food drive, I was empowered by the idea of helping vulnerable members of my community. So naturally, when I saw the description of the Freshman Service Experience, what would one day become the Explore DC through Social Justice program, I was motivated to learn more about issue concerning the city that would be my home for the next four years and to get involved.
First, by coming to American University, and being a part of this program, I was able to continue my passion for service, learning, and community engagement. This was a choice that shaped my college experience.
During my Freshman Welcome Week, I was able to serve as a volunteer at DC Public Charter School, and help prepare the teachers and administrators there for their upcoming school year as well as learn more about issues impacting education in the district. I loved this program so much, that I served as a leader for the Explore DC program in Summer of 2015 to lead a group of participants, much like you all, throughout DC and to volunteer with Bread for the City, a local non-profit that provides a variety of resources to the community such as a community garden and a food pantry. Our group picked fresh produce at their orchard, and these were prepared for members of the community to pick up later that afternoon. I loved that experience so much, that I came back again to serve as a coordinator for the Explore DC program in the Summer of 2016, and finally as a Consultant for my senior year.
Second, by coming to be a part of the Explore DC program, I was able to serve my AU community and DC community at the same time, while having so much fun navigating the city.
It was through this program, that I was inspired to lead, and get involved in opportunities to create greater positive change in the AU community, like serving as an Alternative Break Leader, participating as a member of various Executive Boards, and joining a sorority whose purpose is “Service to All Mankind”. It was through this program that I was able to step out of my comfort zone, as a small town girl, and absorb all of the amazing things this major city has to
offer. It was through the values instilled in me through this program that I was determined to make the biggest impact on my community as I could during my time at American University as a student leader.
And third, by coming to participate in the program, I was able to serve my community, and without the relationships I gained, and passion I found throughout my involvement with this program, I would not be the student leader I am today. I would not be a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow as a result of my campus engagement and community involvement, nor would I be standing before you as President of the American University Student Government.
Every bit of who I am now, has all to do with the lasting impact this program had on my life, and I hope that your experience this week will inspire you just as I was, to come get involved, serve your community, and lead this university in a direction towards achieving social justice for all of its members.
Your Explore DC Coordinators, Orientation team, the Center for Community Engagement & Service, and the Office of Orientation, Transition & Retention have done an amazing job all summer in order to create the best experience for you and your first introduction to life in the District.
I hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to come, serve, lead during your time with this program and over your time at AU.