Steph.

Ask   Submit   I am many things. A student, Apostolic, and a tad bit scatter-brained.

Do Better.

What are your short-term (in the next 18 months) and long-term goals for giving and what steps are you taking right now to ensure your success? Are there barriers to your success? If so, are they financial, physical, social/emotional, technical, cultural, and/or political? Please explain. Finally, how can AU support you in achieving your goals for giving?


When I think of giving, I always think of a selfless act. Something that should be done out of the goodness of our heart. Rarely do I connect giving with the mind. But in Laura Arrillaga’s Giving 2.0 she explains that we have to be smart givers; meaning that we must give effectively. We should know the impact that our money or our time is making. This is definitely a new way of thinking for me. I guess that’s because I always give not paying attention to whether or not the effort I put is making a difference…because I’m an idealist. I like to think that what I did is going to make some significant impact on someone or something, the same impact it made on me, but that’s far too naive and probably ignorant of me. I hate to think of myself in that manner, but sometimes we just have to be honest with ourselves. Giving 2.0 revealed this to me (this is a good thing of course).

Being a part of the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program is definitely helping me in my short-term giving goal. Through the program I’m able to give as a part of “Hope for the Holidays” project. A bookdrive in which we are planning on giving 1000 books to a local school. To some, books aren’t that big a deal (what’s the point of giving a book?), but books make an impact greater than what is expected. Books are a window  to ideas, reflections, and revelations. If a kid picks up a book from our bookdrive and falls in love with it, then that’s already a step towards something better, because that book will lead this child to think of the implications, the meanings, and the greater themes and life lessons. They’ll take these ideas to heart and live along with them. Granted they probably won’t realize that they’re doing this, but it happens. It happened to me. I got one of my favorite books (Night) from a bookdrive and it’s been a constant in my thoughts since then.

I’m also hoping to volunteer outside of school. There is a specific area that really intrigues me-tutoring spanish speaking children who are struggling in school because of their english deficiency. I found a small office space in Tenleytown dedicated to this, and I’m sure there are many more places, where my bilingual ability can be put to use.  I did this in California and hope to continue this here. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself busy in my academics and everything else school-related. Hopefully though, the school year will teach me to manage my time effectively, so this way when I do volunteer I will do so successfully, making the most use out of my time. But Laura Arrillaga makes a point that I’m struggling to try and put into practice, which is volunteer regardless of time restraints, because the more you do, the more you can do. The first time I read this it really struck me as odd, but it’s true. If we don’t start now, when will we?

This question made me look into an organization which Arrillaga talked about, “Jolkona”. I went on the website and the quote they used really inspired me. “Small donations making a measurable impact”. It made me feel less helpless in a world with an overwhelming amount of need. I’m planning on joining and making my own donations once I start generating money into my bank account (gotta save first!).

For my long-term goals, my idea of giving will be a bit different. As of right now I’m not in the position to give great amounts of money or time. But once I move forward in my career I will be able to have enough money to live comfortably and give to nonprofits. Hopefully I’ll also be able to serve on the board of a non-profit as well. I want to be able to use the education that I get in my undergraduate as well as my graduate path in a way greater than just my career. Education is meant to serve society for the better, so why keep it to myself? Because I’m planning on going into the field of social work, my job will already be naturally inclined to giving, but I can also use the personal and professional skills that I learn through my career to aid in my plans to lead on the board of a non-profit. Not only this, but I also want to help on a larger and global scale. Travel and give my time especially to countries in Central America, where destitution is prevalent and affluence is sparse. At least that’s what I want to do, and what I plan to do.

I think my long-terms goals are the ones that scare me the most. Probably because of the possibility of not living up to my own expectations. I know that all of this is very much mental, and AU along with the FDDS program is stripping me of doubting my own success. Going forth in my life, away from the certain failure-complex that many of the people back home had has strengthened my confidence tremendously in these short six weeks of being here. I’m not bashing my friends and family, because they always pushed me to be better. But many of them never pushed themselves. Their excuse was always, “We’re Mexican, what do you expect?”, quite literally this was what some of them would say. That cultural concept of having pride in being stuck in the “ghetto” or living below the means successfully is something that as hard as I tried still creeped into my way of thinking. It’s surprising because I never realized how much it affected me, since I always thought that I had enough drive for all the people surrounding me,  but here at AU people have so much drive and ambition, that it overwhelmed me at first. But now I’m embracing it and allowing it rub off on me. I want success, I want riches. I want to, in the words of Larry, “do good, do well, and do better”.


-Stephanie Vela

— 2 years ago with 4 notes
#FDDS  #stephanie vela  #frederick douglass distinguished scholar 
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