Making a difference is what UC Merced is all about. The creation of the campus has already made a difference in the Valley by increasing the college-going culture of the area. Our students made a difference by attracting First Lady Michelle Obama as this year's Commencement speaker. Our faculty make a difference every day in the research field.
Guess what? Our staff are no different.
Though UC Merced staffers spend their days making a difference in the lives of every member of the campus community, they rarely stop there. Many employees devote countless hours to improving the world around them.
"I'm involved in a lot of things in the community, but Special Olympics is my passion," Krogh said. "I've been doing it 20 years, if not more."
Her passion for the program that offers athletic training and competition to children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities shows in even the briefest conversation with her. And her enthusiasm has prompted fellow staffers and students to volunteer with the program as well.
"It's amazing to watch people grow from the experience of working with those who have special needs," she said. "The athletes are always happy. They have no stress. In some ways, they have better lives than the rest of us."
Becky Smith, manager of Academic Personnel for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts ," agrees that community service - in all arenas - fosters exponential personal growth.
Smith is following in her family's footsteps by serving as a community and county leader for 4-H, which teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to young people across the nation through hands-on activities. Her parents were community leaders throughout her childhood - her mom still is - and now her husband, friends and children all serve the organization in one way or another.
"I met my husband at 4-H camp," she says. "That's our cute little story."
It's no surprise Smith says she can't imagine what the world would be like without 4-H. "So many of the skills I learned in 4-H - parliamentary procedure, public speaking, responsibility - have helped me in ways I couldn't even imagine."
Volunteering takes time - a precious resource that few of us have in abundance - but both Krogh and Smith say there is more than enough to go around if you have your priorities in line.
"It doesn't take a lot of time to volunteer at an event," Krogh points out. "It takes time to organize one, but anyone can show up for a few hours on one day and help out."
Even then, Smith says, it comes down to what's important. "If you want to make something happen, you'll find the time."
Getting involved is simple. Krogh says she always needs fans to fill the stands and cheer for athletes at Special Olympics events. For more information, send her an e-mail . Smith says she recommends participation in 4-H to everyone she meets here at UC Merced. E-mail her for more details.
"Even if you don't have children in the club, volunteering as a leader is a great way to meet people in the community," she said. "You never know what knowledge or experience you have that could spark the interests of young people."