College student thrilled to volunteer again at MD Anderson
Ramonica Jones Luckett
Like most college seniors, graduation, starting a career and making a mark on the world are top of mind for Saloni Cholia. An ecology and evolutionary biology major at Rice University, Cholia already has made a lasting impression at MD Anderson as a “floater” volunteer, a role that enables the aspiring doctor to support cancer patients and their families at MD Anderson’sTexas Medical Center Campus.
Cholia began volunteering at MD Anderson in 2020, right before the coronavirus pandemic forced a temporary pause on the volunteer program. When she returned to campus in August 2022, she was thrilled.
“It was sad not to volunteer during the peak of the pandemic, so I’m very excited to be back,” Cholia says. “I was nervous because two years had passed, and I didn’t want to mess up or say the wrong thing.”
She didn’t mess up, and she’s back with a team of volunteers who are more committed than ever.
Volunteering brings unique experiences and new insights
As a floater, Cholia wears several hats. She may serve coffee at Cancer Connection one week and staff the desk in the surgery waiting room the next. Floating keeps things interesting because she doesn’t know what she’ll be doing until she arrives on campus. It also gives her a chance to interact with and to learn from volunteers and patients from different backgrounds.
"Not only do I get to learn about different parts of the world through the patients I meet, but also about how their illnesses have affected their experiences,” Cholia says. “I’ve gained insights on how people cope with big life changes like cancer and learned how to best support them. Cancer affects both patients’ physical and mental health, and volunteers make sure patients and their families know we are there for them."
An appeal to other college students
Cholia believes helping others is one of life’s biggest rewards. She appeals to other college students to give back through volunteerism.
“As a college student, I’m able to volunteer once a week for three hours,” Cholia says. “This is pretty manageable, and I’ve never felt overwhelmed. I think more students should spend a fraction of their free time doing community service. Volunteering at MD Anderson is a great way for students to interact with people outside of their college community and to give back to the community that supports their college.”