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College students wear the blue jacket, too

Volunteer Voice - Winter 2013

Take a look around at those wearing a volunteer bluejacket when you’re walking the MD Anderson hallways. It’s obvious that young people are getting the message about giving back to others.

Recently, a college student volunteer program has grown from the active teen volunteer program, and there are almost 100 active day, evening and weekend college-level volunteers throughout the cancer center.

“This program requires a short-term volunteer position, and the number of these available varies,” says Mary Donnelly Jackson, Volunteer Services program manager. “The amount of training required differs as well.”

Participants in the college student program could easily be placed in positions such as coffee cart or hat cart volunteers, clinic assistants and gift shop volunteers. These positions are ideal since volunteer positions for college students often follow a semester-based schedule. However, Jackson cites volunteer positions such as floor hosts and the surgery waiting area, which require a great deal of training, as ones that would not be appropriate for those in the college student volunteer program.

She studies and volunteers

Denesha Williams not only attends school at MD Anderson to study molecular genetics, she volunteers, too. In her search for meaningful volunteer work, she investigated hospitals in the Texas Medical Center and was especially interested in MD Anderson. The Volunteer Services website gave her the information she needed and she followed the process to become a volunteer.

Denesha Williams

Beginning in February 2011, Denesha volunteered as a clinic aide, visiting patients receiving chemotherapy and providing them with resources and small amenities. She has changed positions and now works in the surgery waiting area, giving updates to families from the surgeons and from the recovery room.

“I love it,” she says. “I hate to miss my volunteer day and I do everything I can to be there. I’ve met so many people doing this and I’ve grown a lot from this experience.”

“Denesha is a wonderful example of our college student volunteer program," Jackson says. “We can count on her to be there for her volunteer shift.

“Because school traditionally halts during the summer, there are many out-of-state and in-state applicants for that time period,” Jackson says. “January or February is when these students should contact us. Often, they can attend the required volunteer orientation during the spring.”

For any college students able to work on a semester-based schedule, Jackson recommends they also contact Volunteer Services several months before the desired semester. Check this year's timeline.

Interested students follow a similar procedure to those applying to the standard volunteer program. The first step is to complete the volunteer interest form. A Volunteer Services staff member will contact you if there is an opening that matches your interests, skill and availability. From that point, you will be asked to attend a volunteer interview, complete an application and schedule a placement interview.

Other than the experience and knowledge gained from the volunteer assignment itself, other benefits include a letter of recommendation after completing 60 hours, free parking while volunteering and the gain of valuable skills.

For more information or questions, email Volunteer Services or call 713-792-5646.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center