While there is no age requirement for having a servant’s heart, it is less common to hear about college students taking time out of their demanding schedule to volunteer.
For Sneha Gajarla, a student at UT Dallas, tutoring has been a thread throughout her life.
“When I was in high school and even when I came to college, I used to go to a tutor. I always wanted to return that favor back in a way,” Sneha said. “I looked into tutoring jobs first to make some extra money, but then I thought about focusing on it more as a hobby too.”
Volunteer opportunities can be tailored to match your skills and talent
She found Buckner through Foster Connect, an on-campus organization that helps bridge the gap between university students, their resources and the foster community in Dallas.
“Because I’ve always loved tutoring and working with children, I was excited to find out about the tutoring program where we can work with youth in foster care,” she said.
Sneha started tutoring a kinship foster child in math in the Fall last year.
Volunteers benefit from the experience too
Her student is in fifth grade right now, learning multiplication, long division and fractions. The best part about the virtual tutoring session is the opportunity for Sneha to connect with the child.
“It’s fun to get engaged, and see how her day is going,” Sneha said. “But one of the most rewarding parts of tutoring has been seeing her grow.”
From the middle of the first semester to now, Sneha’s student was able to increase her average grade by 15 points.
Volunteering comes with rewards
“Seeing the improvement in her skills and her confidence grow is rewarding,” Sneha shared. “It’s rewarding to me and seeing that I can make an impact in her life is a humbling experience.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Buckner tutoring program adjusted to being virtual. Despite technical challenges, meeting virtually has created immense flexibility and increased communication between Sneha and her student.
“Tutoring does take a bit of commitment and some time for planning, but I would encourage anyone that’s interested in doing it, to jump in,” Sneha said. “I’m the kind of person that loves to talk to people, especially from the comfort of my own room – it’s even easier right now.”
This is National Volunteer Week, and at Buckner we value our volunteers and their service to help vulnerable children and families.