With everything that seems to bombard social media and the news like school shootings, corruption, racism, and hate, it’s easy for me as a high school student to feel that nothing I do will change anything.
Multiple times I have looked at what I have accomplished so far and asked myself: What have I done that is considered “making a difference?”
In high school, extracurricular activities, clubs, school work, and part time jobs often get in the way of what we deem as truly important and leads us to phrases like, “I’ll do that after I’m out of high school” or “I’ll do it when I have more time.”
These excuses make us feel like pushing off things we want to accomplish later in life is acceptable when it is anything but. We only have this moment guaranteed, why are we telling ourselves we have all the time in the world?
In the few instances where I felt like what I did meant something bigger than myself, my happiness came through volunteering my time for others.
Playing bingo at a retirement home, volunteering at the Festival of Trees, and becoming a fourth-grade religious education teacher were a few of the things that made me happy with how I spent my time meaningfully. But the thing that stood out in my mind the most was the time I donated Christmas presents to three siblings whose father had just lost his job a few days before Christmas. Playing ‘Santa’ for those children is still one of the best decisions I have ever made. Making a difference doesn’t have to start when you are out of high school or at a certain age; anyone can do it no matter who you are.
The way I am trying to make my voice heard is by volunteering as often as possible. This year I joined National Honor Society, which celebrates academic success and focuses on giving back to our community. Through NHS, I’ve been able to do small things like donate books to children, cut off a few inches of my hair to make wigs for children with cancer, and donate blood. Making a difference doesn’t have to be a big gesture or statement, it can be as simple as having a conversation with someone you would otherwise never talk to.
As a senior, I struggled with everyone asking me the dreaded question: what you are planning to do after you’ve graduated?
I didn’t care to think that far ahead.
I only knew I didn’t want to do something that made me look at the clock every five minutes. My goal is to pursue something I love, and something that makes me feel like I’m helping others. At the beginning of my senior year I realized volunteering and my search for something meaningful after college seemed to align.
One day I stumbled upon the field of social work, which is dedicated to making people feel like someone is there to care for them. This is something I am extremely passionate about, and I realized this could be the perfect opportunity for me.
Next year, I plan to attend the University of Northern Iowa to study social work and become a voice of reason for people in need. My advice for my fellow students is this: Don’t be afraid to take opportunities that may push you out of your comfort zone. If I had never applied for National Honor Society, I might not have the sense of direction for after high school that I do now. I’m aware that plans can change — and I accept that — but no matter what the future holds for me, the message still remains: volunteering your time toward the well-being of others is time that will never be wasted.
Madison Kizer is a senior at Central DeWitt High School and a part of a Composition II class, a college-level writing class offered at our school through Clinton Community College.