We each have the power to make a difference in our communities – with our voice, with our vote, with our resources, with our time and skills.
For the past six years, 17-year-old Emily Kate Mosley has put her power into action through volunteer service. Now a college freshman, Emily Kate has dedicated hundreds of hours to providing STEM education at her local public library and the nearby Baylor University Mayborn Museum, and hundreds more to ensuring that others are able to participate civically through bipartisan election activities.
Through her volunteer service, Emily Kate is not only making positive change in her Waco, Texas community herself, but also supporting others in realizing their own potential and becoming engaged themselves, creating a ripple of positive change.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I was once told: “Do not be discouraged by the tragedies you see in the media, because when they occur, you will always see those willing to help.” I feel compelled in a world so strongly divided and violent, that I can do small things to help. Through my work, I’ve been able to educate those who have not had access to the resources necessary for their advancement. Teaching STEM to inner-city students, helping job-seeking adults with computer skills at a public library, and even aiding in complicated voter registration situations has allowed me to feel that I am creating simple change with large, rippling effects.
Describe your volunteer role.
During the summers, my time commitment to the library was anywhere from 15-20 hours a week. Along with creating lesson plans for children and helping with the curiosity cart, I tested new materials such as simple robotics, 3D printer, a pancake art machine, etc. I would then implement these skills to adapt them to the ages and learning levels of the students. Over the past six years, I dedicated around 650+ hours. Now, my work with them is much more sporadic and less regular due to me being a freshman in college. I was honored enough to go to a STEM Star reception this summer hosted by US Congress for my efforts and speak on the education system as well as diversifying the field.
To help with election activities, I work directly with voter registration and aiding with questions such as finding the nearest polling station, ensuring that everyone I meet with has bipartisan access to information on candidates, and helping new residents change their status or request absentee ballots. In college there is a lot of this, as young voters are unsure on where to go, who to talk to, or the importance of asking voting questions. I have an open-door policy and keep all the necessary forms staffed in my residence hall for anyone on campus to contact me or ask how to get involved on either side of the isle. Another big part of this is that I live in Texas, and there is a large Hispanic community that needs help registering due to their new citizenship status or are unsure of their eligibility and I work with an alliance group to help with those issues as well. As far as partisan elections, I invite opposing candidates to town halls or various local events so that voters and citizens can get to know their potential representative. Due to my activism in various platform areas I have had the opportunity to speak on my community’s behalf to congresspersons and senators alike. These events are far between due to the congressional/legislative schedule and the natural election cycle. I have done this work the last 4 years and continue to do so now!
What has been the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is being able to build a platform to allow others to voice their opinions. Together, I believe that we bring a unique perspective to the legislative table as well as bring about sustainable change. I love hearing the stories of those with different backgrounds and experiences of mine. I was fortunate enough to travel to D.C. this summer and talk to representatives of my state and beyond to speak on behalf of some of the divisive issues I worked with first-hand. I was able to bring my journal of notes, comments, and questions from people I worked with over the last 7 years and finally give those in my community answers. The opportunity to do so was both breathtaking and humbling.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
I’ve learned that everyone we come in contact with has an effect on our lives in one way or another. People who agree with us provide great conversation, people who teach us expand our worldview, and people who disagree with us provide an insightful viewpoint. Volunteering is all about helping no matter what. You don’t choose who you show empathy for based on how similar they are to you, you choose to show empathy across the chasm of differences because it’s the right thing to do.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
I’m about to start a remote internship with the Smithsonian Cultural Institute researching cultural destruction following natural disasters! I’m really excited about this project because I not only will get to work with a renowned organization, but because it combines my love of international Relations, Environmental Science, and philanthropy in a really unique and impactful way. Academically, I was recently commissioned by a faculty member to write a research piece for an academic journal pertaining to the morality of cyberwarfare. With the contacts I have had the honor of meeting in my work of litigation, I hope this article will provide both insight and a humanitarian perspective to a detached technological issue.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
In true patriotic fashion, I am a firm believer in “together we stand, divided we fall”. I think it’s important to give back to serve as a reminder in such a heated political climate that we all face similar issues and have more in common than we do differences. By showing basic human kindness that costs nothing, we not only create a better world, but we open a door for communication, compromise and unity.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Best put by Malala Yousafzai “Here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak, not for myself, but so those without a voice, can be heard” This story is not my story. It’s an accumulation of stories and a combination of dozens of external motivations I have received from those around me. I could not have accomplished what I have without the volunteerism of wonderful teachers, friends, and mentors I can’t even begin to thank for the time they dedicated to me without recognition or payment. Behind every great volunteer is another…and another…and another.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Emily Kate? Find local volunteer opportunities.