Volunteer work prerequisite for some degrees

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    By Dee Giles

    Volunteer work might be more than just a good deed for some local university students.

    Volunteer work is an essential element of getting into some fields of study.

    Elaine Walton, the director of the School of Social Work at BYU said volunteering is an important element in determining which students are accepted into the program.

    “It’s one of the key factors in making decisions about who should be admitted,” Walton said.

    Volunteering is important for people who plan to go into social work to help prepare them for their future career.

    “Social workers are known for being in the trenches, and I think volunteering is where it starts,” Walton said.

    Linda Baker, a UVSC student from Spanish Fork, Utah, has been volunteering at the Family Support and Treatment Center in Orem since February.

    She decided to volunteer while looking into the requirements for a masters degree in social work.

    “I wanted to go to grad school, and found out that they like volunteer work,” Baker said.

    Sara Sutton, 20, a sophomore from Walnut Creek, Calif., majoring in social work, said that volunteering has helped her learn about social work.

    “It’s given me a background in what I’m going to have to do in social work,” Sutton said.

    The time spent by these volunteers is vital to the ability of some local organizations to meet the needs of the people they serve.

    Jennifer McWhorter, the nursery volunteer coordinator at the Family Support and Treatment Center said the center relies on volunteers.

    “We usually only have one to two staff members in the nursery at any time, and we have 15 kids a day. We depend on the volunteers,” McWhorter said.

    Kimberly Kowallis, shelter manager at the Women’s Shelter Center for Women and Children in Crisis, said volunteers help the shelter keep costs low as well.

    “We figure that volunteers save us $200,000 a year,” Kowallis said.

    McWhorter said volunteering at these foundations help to increase the students’ awareness of issues in the community and ways they can help.

    Volunteers agree that serving makes them more aware of the community.

    “It gives you a better understanding and more caring of people that are in different situations,” Baker said.

    Walton said volunteering also provides the students with a learning experience outside of regular class time.

    “Volunteering is a wonderful way of getting some hands-on experience without going through the academic hoops,” she said.

    Kowallis said serving also allows the volunteer to contribute to society.

    “They get to feel good about their service, like they contribute to the well-being of society,” Kowallis said.

    While volunteers might have other reasons for volunteering, the main reason Sutton said is how volunteers influence the people who they serve.

    “I volunteer because I want to snuggle little kids, and make their lives better,” Sutton said.

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