Honors College Offers Virtual Volunteering

By Samantha Smith

The Honors College coordinated a small transcribe-a-thon on Aug. 12. The college will be hosting a larger transcribe-a-thon Sept. 27 to give more students the opportunity to join. Photo by Samantha Smith/The Jambar

Students who join Youngstown State University’s Honors College say the organization enhances their educational experience. As members of the college, students must complete a required number of volunteer hours every semester. 

Volunteering helps both the student and the organization involved, according to Lexi Rager, coordinator of student recruitment and engagement in the Honors College.

“We get a lot of benefits as an individual [and] the organization benefits … but it is also great for networking,” Rager said. “It’s great for resumes, for job interviews, a lot of grad schools and things now are looking for people who are willing to go out into the community.”

It may seem harder to acquire those 60 hours without in-person opportunities, but both the students and college have adapted to the situation, Rager said.

“I would say probably 99% of volunteerism before March was face-to-face, in-person opportunities,” she said. “Since March, we really had to adapt. So a lot of students have taken to using remote volunteer opportunities instead.”

Along with Rager, Mollie Hartup, coordinator of student development and retention in the Honors College, said the college provides information for several resources the students can use to volunteer, including the weekly Honors College newsletter, the PHil.

“I always start with the PHil because that comes out every Sunday at five,” Hartup said. “Anything we do know of, we’ve been asked to share with students or that we find … we’ll send to students.”

Students can also reach out independently to organizations and nonprofits they’re interested in to see if they have any volunteer options, she said.

An example of volunteerism that students can do remotely is the transcribe-a-thon. During the events, students convert handwritten documents from the Smithsonian and Library of Congress to electronic versions of those documents.

The Honors College coordinated a small transcribe-a-thon on Aug. 12, after an Honors freshman suggested the idea. The college will be hosting a larger transcribe-a-thon on Sept. 27 to give more students the opportunity to join.

In addition to virtual and remote opportunities, there are still some in-person volunteer options. Ivan Bosnjak, a sophomore studying information technologies and marketing, said finding in-person options has been more difficult. 

“A lot of places that you would go and volunteer are not open,” he said. “You cannot do it with someone else, just because a lot of businesses or organizations don’t allow for multiple people to be volunteering [at] the same time.” 

Hartup said students who are struggling to find volunteer opportunities should keep in mind to find something enjoyable.

“Find something that you’re passionate about,” she said. “We want our students to benefit from serving.  … find something that you enjoy doing and you feel good doing.”