Over the course of two years, I was able to turn a random idea of designing and selling science pun t-shirts into a successful fundraiser project to purchase dissection kits for George Washington Carver Middle School in Waterloo. Of course, I was not alone during this adventure; this project would not have been possible without the vast support system I received from UNI faculty/staff, UNI Tri-Beta, friends, family, and the Cedar Valley community. I learned many lessons of organization and keeping faith when everything seemed to be going awry, but the most humbling lesson I learned was the importance of community. Throughout the course of these past two years, I was privileged to witness the humility within the people I am surrounded by. From random passersby to closest friends, their kind acts and willingness to support the needs of students was truly what made my project a success. I knew selling the "Cell-fie" shirts would be an interesting experience, but the reward of the many smiles and repetitive "thank-you's" I received while delivering the kits made my heart swell and helped me reflect upon my efforts to inspire students. Paying back the $1,034 loan from the College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences (for the t-shirts) with funds raised, as well as profiting enough to purchase 50 dissection kits for the students was not a small feat, but the opportunity for students to dissect organisms and learn about systems of the body is priceless- something the students at Carver would not have been able to do without the donated dissection kits. Exposure to hands-on science is the best way to peak interest and encourage students to continue their education beyond middle school and high school, a very deep passion of mine that I hope to continue to act upon in the future.
I would like to send a large, well-deserved thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this wild adventure; know your generosity is appreciated not only by myself, but also the smiling faces at Carver Middle School. Senior year is upon me and graduation is swiftly approaching, but becoming inspired by the many bright minds at Carver Middle School was the best way I could have ever (unknowingly) wrapped up my last four years at UNI.