KayLynn Harris: Ready to Lead Hawkeye Service Team in 2018

The IOWA Challenge expresses important principles that help students succeed in the classroom and beyond. Five expectations: Excel, Stretch, Engage, Choose, and Serve make up the Challenge. The Iowa Challenge series highlights students that exemplify these five values in their daily lives at the University of Iowa.

How do you serve at Iowa?

I am part of the Hawkeye Service Team which exists to promote service learning, social justice, and community building here at the University of Iowa among students through an incredible Alternative Spring Break experience. Alternative Spring Break is a program students can apply for in order to go on a service trip to a different U.S. city to give back and gain perspective about a different community. Each ASB trip takes place during the UI’s Spring Break, and every city has a specific social justice theme in which service is focused around. This year I will be serving as a Student Leader for one of 16 ASB trips. As a student leader, I am tasked with planning one service trip in an assigned city for approximately 15 UI students. Not only am I cultivating relationships with nonprofits and community-based organizations in another city for UI students to participate in a week of service, I do the same locally within the Iowa City and UI community. As a Hawkeye Service team member, it is not only my duty to promote and participate in service, but an honor and a privilege as well. I am happy to serve at Iowa by engaging my peers to step up and volunteer!

Also, recently I became a Mandatory Reporter for Child and Dependent Adult abuse, as well as a Pen Pal through the CDE’s program that partners UI students with local elementary and secondary school students. In both these roles, I serve a community larger than myself protecting and uplifting youth as well as those within our most vulnerable population.

How has this improved your experience at Iowa?

Becoming a part of the Hawkeye Service Team has given me a better sense of community. Not only am I serving individuals, but I’m learning about them and from them. Through that service, I have grown to be a part of something larger than myself. It is always comforting to be surrounded by my peers who share the same love for social justice and community building as myself. HST has allowed me to see firsthand what can be accomplished when people care. I don’t think I could have gotten a better sense of belonging and purpose elsewhere.

What advice would you give to new students?

No act of service is too small. I believe everyone has the ability to give to this world in some way, shape, or form. If you have a passion about an issue, there is a place on campus for you to advocate for it, all you have to do is look around. Being a new or first-year student can be difficult. I found my passion through an ASB experience my sophomore year and gained a community from that. The first step is to get involved. Students can apply up until October 18th to be a part of a Hawkeye Service Team on an ASB trip. If they want to learn more about HST, they can visit CSIL’s website leadandserve.uiowa.edu and see the work we do.

You have nothing to lose and a world of perspective to gain through service. Take a chance and try a different experience!

What impact do you hope Hawkeye Service Teams have on students?

A primary concern is ensuring that we are adequately helping or supporting the community that we are servicing during ASB in a way that is meaningful and productive for both parties involved. Getting back to the question at hand, I hope that students who participate in HST learn something new, not only about themselves, but from the community that they served and from their peers. HST is a great way for students to gain perspective and knowledge about the social issues that prevent so many people from living their best lives. I hope that students can start to develop an understanding of their privileges or position within society and assess that in order to see how they can uplift others for a better society at large. In my perfect world, every student that participates in HST will be touched in a manner that motivates them to want to make the world better using their own skills and passion.

I don’t hope, but believe that ASB and the HST can leave a deep impression on this campus that to be a Hawkeye is to serve.

Where do you want to end up after college?

I can’t picture myself doing anything besides enriching the lives of our youth. I would love to go into nonprofit work surrounding program development for youth. I want a career that is dedicated to ensuring every child has access to early education, as well as equitable education. The ethnicity, zip code, or class of a child should not determine their entire life. If we invest in the minds of all our children equitably, their potential is limitless. I can’t say for certain what my dream job is, but I definitely know it’s pretty close to that. As cliche as it sounds, children are our future and I want to make sure they are prepared for it.

About the series

The Iowa Challenge encourages students to get the most out of their college experience. We encourage all students to Excel, Stretch, Choose, Engage, and Serve during their time here at Iowa. Learn more about the Iowa Challenge here

The Division of Student Life is creating profiles of students who have shown their work in relation to the Iowa Challenge in some way. If you know a student we should feature, contact studentlife-marketing@uiowa.edu.