Hopkins students pride themselves on engaging in important and meaningful activities both in and outside of the classroom. It should come as no surprise, then, that we are heavily involved in community service. Hopkins offers a wide array of volunteering opportunities both on campus and in the community, providing students with a unique outlet for their skills and talents. Service is so important to Johns Hopkins that President Ronald Daniels has established an annual “President’s Day of Service” – an extremely popular event in which the whole campus gets together to participate in volunteer projects around Baltimore. Day of Service is a great way to start every academic year off on an optimistic and ambitious tone, and it prepares students for charitable service work throughout the semester.
Hopkins’ most well-known and largest student volunteer organization, JHU Tutorial Project, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, a testament to its lasting effect on both the university and the community. The Tutorial Project allows Hopkins students to serve as mentors to children from Baltimore City schools. Tutors plan enriching activities to meet the individual needs of their students in addition to providing academic support. Walk through Levering Plaza on any given day between 4 and 6 PM and you’ll see kids of all ages jumping rope, making chalk drawings on the brick paths, reading, doing math exercises, and playing with their tutors. For two days a week, Hopkins students are given the opportunity to take a break from their busy college schedules and form lasting relationships with their younger counterparts, effectively forming an indelible link to the community. It is no wonder, then, that Tutorial Project grows in popularity every year and continues to be one of Hopkins’ strongest volunteer organizations.
Another popular organization, Health Leads, allows for students to volunteer in clinics and hospitals, where they can refer patients to government and community resources. Hopkins Health Leads volunteers are an important connection for Baltimore residents in need of affordable housing, employment, education, and accessible health care. Volunteers are largely Public Health majors, but the organization is open to anyone interested in improving health outcomes in Baltimore City. They work at either the Harriet Lane Clinic, located on the Hopkins Medical Campus, or at Bayview Clinic, which relies heavily on Spanish speakers. Health Leads is a great way for students to get hands on experience in the health field and provide a much-needed service to Baltimore residents.
For those looking to bring about great social change by reducing the ever-rising levels of inequality, Hopkins offers an amazing program called Jail Tutorial Project. The mission of this group is to break the cycle of crime and poverty associated with educational disparities by preparing Baltimore City inmates for the GED exam. By helping them obtain a GED, Hopkins tutors directly improve the lives of those unable to gain employment due to a lack of education. Jail Tutorial plays an excellent role in reducing social inequality in Baltimore and helps bring the Hopkins campus closer to the city.
An extremely popular and unique opportunity aimed at students wishing to pursue a career in health care is the JHU Medical Tutorial. This program is a 2-credit course offered by the Office of Pre-Professional Advising that places students with renowned doctor mentors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for a semester of hospital-based volunteering. Students can opt for either a clinical tutorial, which gives students hands-on experience in patient interaction, or a research-based tutorial. Medical Tutorial volunteers have been known to scrub in on surgeries, fly to conferences all over the country, and even get their name published in a clinical trial study!
The last volunteer opportunity specific to Johns Hopkins that simply must be mentioned is the Hopkins 4K for Cancer. Each year, a team of highly motivated Hopkins students raises over $4,500 each in preparation for a 4,000 mile bike ride across the country. The journey takes two months and has stops in major towns and cities along the way where the cyclists participate in local fundraisers and charitable events to benefit cancer research. The journey is a test of physical and emotional endurance, but it has a significantly positive impact on communities from coast to coast.
Apart from these volunteer opportunities, Homewood also hosts a variety of popular national community service organizations. On campus, one can get involved in Habitat for Humanity, a great club that rehabilitates homes in Baltimore and across the country; Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity that has several on-going projects both on-campus and in the community; and Circle K, the collegiate branch of the Kiwanis Club. On any given day, you will find students selling baked goods to raise money for Relay for Life, collecting signatures for a petition to improve clean air standards with Students for Environmental Action, or advocating another cause through a charitable event.
Blue Jays are proud to be at Hopkins and even prouder to be productive and responsible citizens of the City of Baltimore. We realize our connection to the community and strive to volunteer wherever we are needed. From opportunities in the medical field to social justice issues, Hopkins is full of ways for students to give back and get involved.
Community service is often a connection among Hopkins students. To spend four years here, or any city for that matter, and remain apathetic towards is plights is to do a disservice to the opportunities offered by the college experience. Sitting in lecture, learning how to think, articulate, argue and fail are all important to the classroom education in college; however, there are equally fundamental lessons that are learned through the independence and immersion into a new community. That community extends beyond the walkways and lecture halls of a college campus. Community service allows students to expand our capability for compassion and involvement, and gain the values and experience to apply the lessons learned to real-world experiences.
For further information about service opportunities available to Johns Hopkins undergraduates checking out the Center for Social Concern, the student life office dedicated to community service and civic engagement.