Category: Center for Social Concern

Camp Kesem


Name: Stephanie Huie

Class Year: 2015

Major/Minor: History/Entrepreneurship & Management

Hometown: Hamilton, NJ

A Letter from Hanny

Call me Hanny. I feel like Hanny is the best version of me. As Hanny, I believe I am Superwoman – confident, hilarious, loving, spirited, kind, engaged, understanding, inventive, thoughtful, patient, a leader. Hanny is my Camp Kesem name. We all have camp names. Gumball, Pumba, Cool Guy, Ms. Grande, Cloud, Marvel, Congo, Lucky, Shockwave, Pinecone, Simba, Tinkerbell.

There is nothing in this world that I care more about than Camp Kesem. Why? The people. I’ve only spent 12 days of summer with our campers, counselors, and staff so, theoretically, I should consider these people strangers. Instead, I call them family.

10521567_777411638981608_2143423886743318495_oWe are SO SO SO dysfunctional, but in the best way. There’s 8-year-old Mortiachy who likes to say he’s lactose intolerant just because he wants to “fit in” with the dairy-free kids. But then he repeatedly eats a bunch of cheese and repeatedly throws up, so maybe he is lactose intolerant, or maybe he just eats an insane amount of cheese. There’s 16-year-old Turquoise who wears a turtleneck, jeans, and a jean jacket to summer camp when it’s 90 degrees out. There are the two brothers, Bacon and Uncle Fudge, who are obsessed with Gangnam Style and will literally stop eating mid-bite when they hear the first few beats to get up and dance. There’s 7-year-old Princess Bella who oozes so much sass, you just know she is the future Queen Bey. Her favorite thing is to purse her lips and perfectly sing lyrics like “I woke up like this…flawless.” I’ve only known all of these crazy kids for 12 days max, but they have stolen my heart for forever.


In official language, Camp Kesem is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to support kids whose parents have cancer. In my words, we create a wonderful community of amazing kids, parents, counselors, and staff to provide deserving families with love, magic, and fun.

The work we do is unparalleled. Students volunteer for an entire year to fundraise $40,000, to negotiate contracts, to design exciting programs, and much more, just so special kids have an opportunity to experience a week of high-energy summer camp, completely free. I was the Operations Coordinator the past year, so handling all of the logistics of the schedule, and it was a ridiculous amount of work being on Exec Board. Apparently, I was so invested/obsessed with my work that I’ve been told that I would mutter about camp in my sleep. We need chicken tenders. Fill the buckets with more water balloons. I can’t find the marshmallows. The table isn’t clean enough. Where did Turbo go? But hearing the kids cheer like maniacs when their team answered a question right during Jeopardy, seeing the kids getting crazy excited during the wet and wild relay races, and spending time laughing about dumb things with the kids made it all worth it. I feel so lucky that, in my memory, I have stored these little happy snapshots of our magical little Camp Kesem world.

Since I’ve joined Camp Kesem, I know I have become a better person. In my roles as a counselor and Operations Coordinator I have developed my skills as a listener and communicator. I am more empathetic and I am more confident. I feel prepared to be a stronger leader, mentor, teacher, friend, and a future mother. I owe so much to this organization for not only giving me a cause to believe in, but also cultivating such a wonderful culture where I have found a second family.

Photo from the Camp Kesem at Hopkins Facebook page.

Photo from the Camp Kesem at Hopkins Facebook page.

Basically, thank you Camp Kesem for being an awesome organization. I feel so privileged that I get to be a part of this magical community.

CK Love,


Community Impact Internships Program


Name: Katherine Robinson

Major: International Studies

Year: Class of 2014

Visiting new neighborhoods.  Meeting people with incredible stories.  Supporting my neighbors and fellow new Baltimoreans regardless of their background.  Networking with and learning from non-profit organizations.  Attending festivals, outdoor movies, and Baltimore Restaurant Week.  Mastering the MTA.  Learning to love the Baltimore summer, because of (and in spite of), the ridiculously heat and humidity.  These are a few of my favorite (Baltimore) things, all of which I have gotten to experience because of the Community Impact Internships Program.  Thanks to generous support from an anonymous donor, CIIP is a paid summer internship program where 50 students are placed in non-profits and government agencies in Baltimore to help students become involved and invested in the Baltimore community and to support the vital efforts of change agents in the city.

What’s really exciting about participating in CIIP is that each student is matched with an organizations that fits their skill set and interests.  I was excited to work with the refugee population in Baltimore, so I was placed at ERICA.  Students interested in urban agriculture can be placed at an urban farm doing everything from awareness raising to planting to fundraising.  Students interested in criminal justice can be placed at the public defender’s office.  Students interested in the arts can be placed at an organization promoting art among youth or a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing Baltimore through the arts.  The list goes on, allowing each of us to have a truly unique and rewarding experience at our placement site.  And all of placements are hands on and extremely excited to have a summer intern.

cute kids

I have been fortunate enough to participate in CIIP for two summers, once as just an intern and the second time as a peer mentor for the new cohort and an intern, as well as during the school year thanks to a generous donation for a CIIP extension program.  Both years I interned at ERICA, the Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance, a small non-profit organization dedicated to serving refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and immigrants through casework, workshops, family reunification and legal aid loans, and material support.  While at ERICA, I have been involved in nearly every part of our operations and created some projects of my own.  Some of highlights of my ERICA internship have been reuniting a Rwandan asylee with his wife and seven children, planning our first ever Around the World in 5K Fun Run/Walk Fundraiser (which was very successful!), designing the ERICA website, and planning a series of business workshops for immigrant women with a documentary photography piece to supplement them.  I have learned so many valuable skills from working at ERICA and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.


Now that I am approaching my last semester, I am reflecting about my time here at Johns Hopkins.  Certainly I have made friends, taken interesting classes, and participated in a lot of cool activities.  But what I will remember the most when I look back on my experience is working at ERICA, hearing the powerful stories of refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, feeling like a made at least a little difference in the city I called home for four years.  Participating in CIIP and building relationships with Baltimoreans who will be here long after I graduate has helped me fall in love with the “Greatest City in America” and made Baltimore feel like home.


Interested in learning more at this fabulous program?  Check out the CIIP website!

Advocates for Autism (AFA)


Group: Advocates for Autism (AFA)

Category: Center for Social Concern


Name: Katherine Simeon

Year: Class of 2014

Position: Co-President

A multidisciplinary investigation of the autism spectrum
Autism has become an increasingly popular topic in science, education, and the media. In the past, we’ve seen the claim that vaccines supposedly cause autism, different ways to educate the autistic, and celebrities with autistic children. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 88 children in the United States has autism –23 percent more than three years ago.

Advocates for Autism (AFA) is a student advocacy group striving to learn more about the rapidly evolving autism spectrum through campus events, networking, and community service. To accomplish our goals, we host on-campus events reaching out to the Hopkins community and informing them about autism (you will often see us in the library on Tuesday evenings giving away brownies and cookies accompanied by autism fact cards!). Our initiatives bring together Hopkins students of different backgrounds and interests to explore what autism is and its implications on society, education, research, and more.

Baltimore and Autism
In addition to campus events, we invite guest speakers to talk at our weekly meetings. In previous years, we have had insightful educators, researchers, parents, and students share their perspectives on autism. These talks are informal and interactive. They allow AFA members to quench their curiosity. Our guests have been amazingly gracious in the past and serve as great connections. Some members maintain relationships with our past guests and become their mentees, research assistants, or interns. Not only do the speakers teach us more about autism, but they also localize the topic and connect Hopkins to Baltimore’s autistic community.

Advocating Neurodiversity
AFA makes community service a priority. Every month we volunteer as a group at the Kennedy Krieger Institute near the medical school campus. In the Child Life and Therapeutic Department, members work one-on-one with patients. The conditions of the children and adolescents at Kennedy Krieger extend beyond the autism spectrum as many patients are diagnosed other severe developmental and motor disabilities. This exposes us to other disorders and their treatment, which in turn allows us to develop an understanding of neurodiversity and promote it on campus. We are currently establishing new relationships with other organizations in Baltimore to volunteer with.

Join us!
Anyone can join Advocates for Autism and participate in our campus, service, and networking events. Contact the Co-Presidents at to join our email list and get more information.

Relay for Life


Name: Alexa Mechanic
Year: 2014
Hometown: Amawalk, New York
Majors/Minor: Writing Seminars & English majors, Psychology minor

On hearing the group name “Relay For Life,” many people ask me how I can possibly run all night long, even for such a great cause. Well, if you’re one of those people who has evaded Relay For Life in the past out of a fear of having to run for twelve hours, you’re in luck. Relay For Life actually requires no athletic ability at all – it is an annual, all night event full of ceremonies, games, entertainment and food, and the purpose is to fundraise as much money as possible to support the American Cancer Society. Teams generally take turns sending one member to walk the track so that one person from every team is walking at all times. Relay For Life is, internationally, the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser. 100% of donations go to the ACS, where they are divided up into funds that help support Hope Lodges, provide rides to treatment centers for cancer patients, connect cancer patients with survivors who can relate to them, sponsor scholarships for cancer survivors, and, of course, contribute to the search for a cure.

Just a cool side note – Relay For Life stems from the efforts of one dedicated man, Dr. Gordy Klatt, who actually ran for 24 hours around a track in 1985 – for more than 83 miles – to raise money to fight cancer. Over 300 of his friends watched and donated as Klatt proved that, cliché as it is, impossible is nothing. He raised $27,000 in 24 hours. If one man can succeed at such a feat, imagine what we can do as an entire campus.

When I first arrived at Hopkins and attended the awesome and very overwhelming Student Activities Fair, I signed up for the Relay For Life e-mail list; my town at home never had a Relay, so I was excited to become a part of the group and apply to be marketing & publicity co-chair. So many people in my family and so many of my friends have lost people close to them to this horrible disease, and its prevalence in our society terrifies me – I wanted to join Relay to fight back. Fortunately, I became marketing & publicity co-chair, and I loved being on the executive board so much that I reapplied and still hold the position. Our event co-chairs and the executive board work extremely hard all year to create, plan, and fundraise for this event, and our goal is to get the entire campus and the Baltimore community to come out and support this amazing cause (while having fun and making a difference simultaneously).

Relay For Life at Hopkins takes place on the upper Quad (unless it rains, in which case we move to the indoor track at the Rec Center – equally as fun), and I can vouch that the entire night is beautiful in a million different ways. Despite the fact that I helped plan the event last year, I had no idea what to expect. After finishing set-up and successfully constructing a balloon arch, we watched as people started streaming in. The night was crisp, clear and a little bit windy, as we later learned in the Luminaria ceremony. Teams pitched their tents all around the quad, fundraising stations popped up everywhere (think tons of bake sales, inflatable jousting, video game stations, cotton candy, etc.), and the quad truly came to life with the community’s collective enthusiasm. The cancer survivors at the event start off the night with the kick-off lap; it is a remarkable sight to watch them walk together, reminding us why we Relay in the first place. This part of the night comprises the “celebrate” aspect of the “celebrate, remember, fight back” slogan as we seek to celebrate the lives of these strong, inspirational cancer survivors.

Next is the Luminaria ceremony, which is aesthetically beautiful – the quad is lined with paper Luminaria bags that each hold a burning candle, and we usually try to spell out “Hope” in Luminaria bags on the Gilman steps. These bags honor individual people touched by cancer, and the mere number of bags present at the event has a huge emotional impact on everyone in attendance. Last year, it was so windy that some of the bags lit on fire… it was almost disastrous, but we were luckily prepared with back-up electric candles! Luminaria is part of the “remember” ceremony – we remember the lives of those who lost their battles, but it is also motivation for the “fight back” ceremony for those in the midst of cancer. In the actual “fight back” ceremony, everyone makes a personal commitment to save lives by joining the fight against cancer.

Relay at JHU was a blast – my friends and I had a great time while supporting an outstanding cause. My favorite part of the night was when my friend Lindsay and I sprinted around the track at two or three in the morning due to the insane amount of sugar we consumed (how can you say no to a cupcake that will support the fight against cancer?). I stayed almost all night – my spring allergies were in full throttle so actually sleeping outside was not looking too promising – and I groggily returned to the quad very early on Saturday morning to help clean up. The most dedicated Relayers were welcoming the morning from their tents, and I took a moment to take in what I had been a part of the night before. It feels good to take a stand against cancer, and it feels even better when you see all of your hard work come together between the Gilman steps and our good friend Milton E. Eisenhower, culminating in this rare unification of the community with one goal in mind: stopping cancer in its tracks.

There is no doubt that Relay For Life at JHU will be even better this year. To top the crazy dance party that broke out in the middle of the night last year, Relay has invited some of the campus’ top entertainment groups to come and perform. Some groups include Adoremus, S.L.A.M., the Eclectics, Vivaz, JOSH, the Sirens, the Octopodes, the Vocal Chords, the Allnighters and JHEC. If that doesn’t convince you, what if I told you that Miss Maryland will be here to help out with the notorious Miss Relay Pageant? You do NOT want to miss this.

One night, one fight. Relay the message, and I hope to see you there.

Refugee Action Project


In high school I discovered I had an academic passion for studying the movement, politics, and psychological effects of refugees and refugee status. My senior year research project enabled me to expand on this passion in depth. However, despite my days of research I had never worked with anyone experiencing what it was to be a refugee, what had so captivated me. Coming to JHU, I knew working with refugees was a top priority but I never imagined I would find such a well organized and established program, run by my peers who shared my passions.

Hopkins has a club titled the Refugee Action Project (RAP). We tutor refugees twice a week from Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Nepal, and the Kingdom of Bhutan who have been located to Baltimore and joined an afterschool program called Refugee Youth Program (RYP). At JHU we do an annual clothing drive to bring coats and winter items to the refugees, hold awareness talks, host guest lectures and show documentaries to educate the Hopkins community about refugees who not only live in distant countries but also in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. My favorite aspect of the group is volunteering with the refugee students through RYP.

RYP is an after-school program focused both on homework and English language education for children ages six to fourteen. At first I went for a few focused reasons: the kids and the energy they have, my interest in working with refugees, and because community service is essential to the rhythm of my week. But as time passed with the program other reasons surfaced as well.

I always cared about the students academic growth but with each visit my investment deepen; I arrived hoping this one specific girl would properly master using are versus is or this boy would conquer long division. But it is not only their minds that are stretched every week; I get a mental workout as well. Every RYP student comes with their own talents, academic struggles, language skills, and personality. This demands flexibility and transfiguration on our parts as tutors to persistently adapt our teaching method so as best to teach each student.

Over the course of my visits, my attachment to the full time volunteers, workers, and fellow student tutors who passionately try to help these refugee children excel in the American public education system grew in leaps and bounds, as did my respect for their work. While tutoring, we fight to balance English language acquisition with the classroom work assigned by their teachers. I have found this to be the most frustrating component because to truly teach the math skill necessary to do their probability homework that night we forgo an English lesson on when to use would, could, or should. The van buzzes on the drive back with a discussion on different students, their progress and their silly antics.



The Community Building and Social Change Group at Johns Hopkins


Community Development in East Baltimore: The Community Building and Social Change group at Johns Hopkins

It’s January 21, 2012, and it is STILL winter break! I love Hopkins. Not only because we have almost 7 weeks to relax before the spring semester, but also because we’re given access to just about everything we need to make a difference in the lives of Baltimore residents. I have had the awesome opportunity to direct the Community Building and Social Change group, a 503 (c) non-profit organization registered with the Center for Social Concern that works closely with residents of Baltimore city. CBSC aims to understand residents’ needs and then come up with an actionable plan to help resolve the problem. We go out into the community and poll residents on some of their greatest challenges. We compile the results and then ask residents what they would like to see as a response to those issues. We then sort through issues and solutions and receive student input to come up with a solid proposal. CBSC aims to be completely bottom-up—top down approaches to development are often paternalistic and ignore the ability of people to participate in their own transformation. So you can see that the process here is kind of complicated—you want to help others, but you want to do so with respect for their dignity and agency.

Every year, CBSC hosts the Hopkins Hunger for Help campaign, where students and faculty members work together make sandwiches with the homeless.

The CBSC approach is rather innovative. First, we have no “member base.” Instead, thereare a few leaders who manage and organize all projects and logistics. You can imagine that this is a huge task, but rightly so—the most dedicated leaders will be responsible for most of the behind-the-scenes work. CBSC thinks this is the right approach, since managing a member base is difficult at any school in and any line of work; weekly meetings, listservs and emails sometimes tend to put off people who would normally be interested in development. Instead, when carrying out projects, CBSC enlists the help of pre-existing student groups: community service organizations like APO and Campus Kitchen, health groups like Health Leads, Hopkins organizations like the student government (and the student activities center), religious groups on campus like the Jewish Students Association and the Muslim Students Association, and fraternities and sororities on campus. By mobilizing members of other groups, CBSC avoids the problem of under-commitment.

Hopkins knows how to have a good time at CBSC’s Hunger for Help in Spring Fair 2011.

Second, CBSC gives all group members voting power in that they can help determine the implementation of projects and the creation of new community ventures. While this poses the potential problem of information overload—that we have too much feedback and not enough time to sort through everything—we think it is better to have too much advice than not enough.

CBSC has accomplished quite a lot over the last five years. But there is still much more to do. While I would love to talk more about Hunger for Help and our other projects, I want to keep this entry more general so that you can get a better idea of the organization and decision-making involved in community development here in Baltimore. I definitely encourage you to visit our webpage at, or email me at for more information. Until then, enjoy the rest of your winter break! Or, umm,enjoy the rest of your school year ;)

“It takes one to make a difference.”

Art Brigade!


DO YOU LIKE CHILDREN? DO YOU LIKE DOING CRAFTS WITH THEM?Art Brigade! (yes, the exclamation point is part of our official title) provides a fun, artistic outlet to elementary school students at multiple sites in East Baltimore.  Our program, in conjunction with the Living Classrooms Foundation, runs an after-school art program as part of a volunteer enrichment opportunity for inner-city children.Established on campus in Fall 2009, we have grown as an organization and now have over 50 volunteers, 135 students, multiple teaching sites, and an always growing number of crafts inspired by our volunteers and students alike. We are also proud to have won the CSC’s Urban Education Award as a new group in Spring 2011.

So why do it? You get to spend time with kids, contribute to the Baltimore community, learn and use leadership and classroom control skills, all the while having fun doing so! Also, by working in East Baltimore you will get a chance to know the city beyond Hopkins. It doesn’t take much – just an hour every week.  We hope to put your artistic talent to good use if you have it, but if you don’t, our club does focus on leadership skills and interacting with children through teaching them art.We accept new volunteers at the beginning of each semester!
Feel free to contact us with any questions or to get on our mailing list; we love receiving emails!!

Alpha Phi Omega


Organization: Alpha Phi Omega


Year Started: Founded in 1952 and rechartered in 1998

Alpha Phi Omega is Johns Hopkins University’s only national, co-ed community service fraternity.  The organization has strong relationships with both the campus and greater Baltimore communities and its primary goals are to provide service to others, encourage fellowship, and promote leadership in its members.

Our service program is central to Alpha Phi Omega.  The variety of projects is limitless!  We volunteer on campus and in the Baltimore community, helping with both one-time and recurring events.  Some of our favorite events include volunteering at the Baltimore Marathon, winterizing homes in the Remington area, putting on a free children’s carnival at Waverly Elementary School, participating in Relay for Life and Dance Marathon as a team, tutoring elementary through high school students at local schools, cooking food and desserts for soup kitchens and Moveable Feast, and helping other campus organizations with their events and projects.  Members are encouraged to create their own projects as well – if you want to do something, we can make it happen!

Face painting is just one of many activities at APO’s Spring Carnival.

Fellowships are coordinated so that pledges and members can get to know each other and have fun together.  Despite the large number of members in Alpha Phi Omega, these events make it very easy to get to know everyone involved.  Fellowships can be anything, from movie nights to trips to nearby restaurants or locations of interest.  Since many members are involved in other activities on campus, their events, such as music recitals, comedy skits, sports games and meets, and dance performances often become fellowships so that other members can come and support them.  There’s nothing like hearing a crowd of your brothers cheering you on!  We also host a formal every semester.  This is a great opportunity for members to get dressed up and enjoy a night out on the town.

APO members help children with crafts at Carnival.

Every semester begins with two weeks of rush events.  These events are meant to allow potential new members to meet current members of our organization and learn more about the service, fellowship, and leadership opportunities available.  There is an event for everyone!  Past rush events include everything from s’mores nights and ice cream socials to game nights, tie dying, and service projects such as making teddy bears for children in nearby hospitals.

Members enjoy brunch at Paper Moon Diner as a fellowship.

Freshmen are highly encouraged to rush Alpha Phi Omega!  This organization provides so many great ways to not only get more involved in community service during college, but also is a wonderful way to meet new people with common interests.  Everyone can find a friend in an Alpha Phi Omega member since the group is so diverse.  And it doesn’t hurt that it provides an excellent talking point during interviews and on resumes!

Representing APO by wearing our letters.

We look forward to meeting you at our rush events!  Come see what being a member of Alpha Phi Omega is all about, and have a great time in the process!

Our most recent pledge class, the Alpha Gammas of Fall 2011!

In Leadership, Friendship, and Service,

Jessica Taggart


JHU Class of 2012


SHARE (Supporting Hospitals Abroad with Resources and Equipment)


Have you ever needed to finish a school project, but found that you didn’t have the right materials? Or wanted to fix something around the house, but didn’t have the right tools for the job? Fortunately, most of us have the resources to readily obtain what we need. But for some people in developing nations searching for adequate healthcare, a lack of equipment can become a matter of life or death. Those living in medically underserved regions or areas of poverty and intense political discrimination often do not have the same access to medical resources that we tend to take for granted.

SHARE (Supporting Hospitals Abroad with Resources and Equipment) was created to right this inequality. SHARE is a volunteer organization of dedicated physicians, nurses, medical students, and undergraduate students. We all work together to send otherwise unattainable supplies overseas, trying to ensure that people don’t suffer more for want of basic medical equipment.


SHARE is able to do this by collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH). Dozens of surgical procedures a day require dozens of pounds of equipment. It turns out that according to hospital regulations, all of the equipment in the operating rooms must be discarded, even though many items are actually unused. This is because they are no longer considered sterile and their redistribution within the hospital is prohibited. SHARE collects these unused and clean medical supplies and redistributes them instead to developing nations, where they will be sterilized before use. At the same time we benefit the hospital by reducing its solid waste. Thus, we’re sharing health and doing our part for the environment

.At Homewood the undergraduate portion of SHARE has been undergoing unbelievable growth. In two years, the number of undergraduate volunteers surged from 4 to 125 members and is still growing. There may be many reasons for this rapid increase but we do have a few ideas. An important one is the flexibility of what we expect from our volunteers. Led by a team of hard-working students, we understand our fellow busy students and their unpredictable schedules. Accordingly, we ask volunteers to sort and pack equipment a minimum of two hours a month and attend one half hour meeting a month, with the volunteer hours to be completed at their convenience. You may be surprised that this low individual commitment is enough to accomplish anything significant. But by working diligently together, SHARE completed some amazing work last year alone. Last year we shipped out about 10,000 pounds of medical equipment that would otherwise have been occupying a nearby landfill.

The spirit of camaraderie also makes it hard not to be a part of SHARE, since we work closely with the physicians, nurses, and medical students downtown. We coordinate with each other every step of the way towards our common objective, which also happens to provide frequent networking opportunities and leadership experiences throughout the year. We make these opportunities explicit as well, through events that bring all the members of SHARE together to promote awareness of how we can use our abundant resources to aid countries in need. In the spring semester of last year SHARE hosted an event called Sharing Health with the World, where Dr. Richard Redett, our Hopkins faculty sponsor and the director of SHARE, offered his perspectives. He discussed his varied and diverse medical experiences as the founder of SHARE at Hopkins, as a servant on many medical mission trips, and as a leader and Director of Pediatric Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Abdullah, the director of our partner organization Humanity First in Baltimore, also shared his experience on how the items that SHARE members regularly sort directly made a difference on his medical mission trips. It was eye-opening to see how our small actions in Baltimore have a dramatic impact on lives across the globe.

The bottom line is that our members love to SHARE because with a little bit of time and a whole lot of teamwork, we are able to make a material difference in the lives of those who most need it. And it just keeps going. From our beginnings ten years ago at JHH, inspired by a similar program called REMEDY at the Yale University School of Medicine, to our thriving and expanding organization today, the attitude of giving to those in need is proving contagious. We are expanding to other medical sites around Homewood, including the Student Health and Wellness Center that cares for Hopkins students themselves, the Union Memorial Hospital across the street, and the Wyman Park Medical Center next to the campus. Others all over the East Coast and the more local University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center are currently using our example to begin SHARE programs at their own medical centers.

We’re always looking for more volunteers to share health with the world. All are welcome, from freshmen to faculty – our only requirement is that you have a serving heart. Please, contact us at to get involved or check out our website at to find out why Hopkins loves to SHARE. Can’t wait to see you on campus and share our time together!


Lydia Liang is a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience. She loves life at Hopkins and serving others. She is blessed to be the Public Relations Officer of SHARE and one of the five leaders of the undergraduate membership.

Habitat for Humanity


Organization: Habitat for Humanity

Name: Billy Kang

Year: 2014

Hometown: Rochester Hills, Michigan

Area of Study: Biomedical Engineering

If there’s anything better than college (and trust me, college is wonderful), it’s college without classes. Of course, I didn’t know that when I signed up for the Habitat Pre-O back in summer 2010 – I pretty much sent in the application on impulse. Regardless, Habitat Pre-O ended up being best start of my college career than I could ever hope for.

At the Inner Harbor

So what is Habitat for Humanity? Long story short, Habitat is an international organization that focuses on building homes for people in need. The organization is rather large, and I suspect many of you have already heard of Habitat in your high schools. They host building projects both in the States and overseas; at Hopkins, the chapter mainly participates on weekend work trips into nearby communities (which is also another great experience).

More specifically, what is the Habitat Pre-Orientation event? This is something that is exclusive to incoming freshmen. For this program, the participants come on campus a week prior to move in and orientation. During this week, we go into neighboring communities (Remington and Sandtown) and coordinate with the local Habitat organization and build houses.

Meeting all the new faces and playing ninja – after the icebreakers.

Why should you do this? First, you move in early. Avoiding the whole mess of move in day was already worth every penny of the registration fee. You cannot truly appreciate what the previous statement means until you witness the lines and the chaos of move in day. Second, you will be doing something great for the community – can’t argue with that. Third, the advantage of Habitat Pre-O is that you’ll be on campus for a whole week prior to move in. Plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the campus before orientation even started. The upperclassmen supervisors will take you to places such as Inner Harbor and Towson Mall. You’ll know what’s up in the area before everyone else. Fourth, the people you’ll meet on this program will most likely become some of your best friends on campus. College can be daunting in terms of the sheer amount of new faces you’ll encounter in the first few days. The pre-o program eases you into college by giving you a small group to work with – a much better alternative than the typical, repetitive orientation conversation: “Hi, how are you? What’s your name and major? Blah blah blah…” Oh, did I mention you will have fun? Above all else, you will enjoy the experience. College without any classes or tests is a dream come true, this pre-o is precisely the chance for you to live a week of this dream. In another word, if you want a pressure free, relaxed and fun start to your college career – this is the program for you.

The pre-o group posing in front of the church. We were nasty from sweating and smelled like vinegar, but no one cares (or at least from the picture). See all the smiles? Yea, that’s us having fun.

Advertisement asides, I want to share a personal story. The first day of my pre-o experience was in a church in Remington. They had a gym that badly needed repair. I guess they decided the gym floor was too dirty (honestly, I think they were just unprepared for us that day) so we ended up with the job of scrubbing the gym floor – with these tiny sponges. It sounds horrible, and it is. But during this time I got to talk to the rest of the people, nothing drives conversation like a bunch of 18 years old pretending (but really, we worked) to scrub floor. Not only did I familiarize myself with the group, I also had a chance to talk to a senior, who helpfully gave me plenty of advice about which classes to take and what clubs to join. Despite our slow progress, we were eventually able to clean the floor up. Thankfully, over the week we moved on to more back breaking jobs like shoveling bricks and mixing cements. But more importantly, we bonded, and there’s no better sense of relieve when you realize you fit in: that there are people you like here – in the end, you made the right choice coming to Hopkins. Make no mistakes, Habitat will make you work. But the bonding time you’ll get with your new classmates is invaluable, and it’s the part of the pre-o that I treasure most.

Cement is hard to mix, but it’s fun.

It may seem like a bold move, to voluntarily come on campus a week before orientation. It may even seem scary for you, I was myself very nervous when my plane landed (my Hopkins experience started at the airport, I shared a cab with Alex, another Habitat Pre-O participant, on the way to campus). But let me assure you – you will have the time of your life. Very few things compare with the feeling you get admiring the backyard you paved that you know will help someone who really needs it. But Habitat Pre-O is a great program in that not only do you get a chance to do great deeds, you get to truly bond with your group – habitat makes the whole process fun. Simply put, the program will make your college career start so much smoother and easier. Regardless if I convinced you that pre-o is an amazing program or not, I’ll give it one last try: the pre-o program is exclusive to freshman. Yes, this means that this is the only time in your life you’ll be able to do this. Sometimes, a leap of faith is what it takes, I took it – and never regretted it since. I just spent the whole entry telling to scream a definitive “yes”, but now as yourself, are you willing to take your leap of faith? Start your college career with something you’ll never forget – sign up for Habitat Pre-O.