Justin T. Edwards
Student Spotlight, September 2011
When talking to Justin Edwards about his volunteer efforts, you can tell from the huge smile plastered on his face that he is passionate about serving the community. Working with Community Engagement Center has allowed Justin to take advantage of his desire to help others. He has volunteered with many Alternative Break and Sac State Serves including the Sacramento Zoo’s Ice Cream Safari and Safteyville USA’s Halloween Haunt. Life experience has made Justin realize that “money isn’t everything”; giving your time is just as valuable.
Serving with Alternative Break has been a “mind awakening experience” for Justin. It has given him the opportunity to work in many different arenas. His most rewarding experience was volunteering with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ Mobile Food Distribution in Oak Park. Justin enjoyed being able to talk to and interact with the people he was serving. He also enjoyed preparing meals with Meals on Wheels by ACC for low-income seniors in the Sacramento area. Justin remarked that “knowing I am doing a deed for someone other than those who have done for me was payment for my time and service [in of] itself.”
Initially, Justin was a Business Administration major at Sacramento State. After a car accident left him temporarily paralyzed, he changed his major and his outlook on life. Justin realized that his “life on earth was made for a purpose.” He felt fortunate and blessed with opportunities. Overwhelmed with the need to give back, Justin decided to become a Sociology major and more recently to double major in Social Work.
Justin’s favorite class so far has been his Sociology 120 class, Ethnic and Race Relations with Professor Paul Burke. In this class they analyzed the relations among various racial, religious, nationality and gender groups as they interact with racism, ethnocentrism and class around the world. Justin enjoyed looking into the lives of other heritages and was shocked to discover how society has been prejudice towards so many groups, including African Americans, Mexicans, Native Americans and the Chinese. After earning his degree, Justin hopes to impact these groups through a career related to guidance and youth counseling.
For Justin, it is important to keep a positive outlook and offer others a lending hand. “So many people have been through bad experiences and they need encouragement to show them that there are people willing to help.” The most important outcome for Justin is to see smiles on people’s faces because that’s when he knows he’s made an impact. “The people [I help] don’t know me, but I care. …Helping others brings out the best in people and encourages them to pay it forward when they can.” It is that experience, that connection, which motivates Justin to continue serving.
Justin plans to graduate by Spring 2013.
Contributed by D. Martin
Each year, more than two thousand Sacramento State students, faculty, staff, and alumni participate in programs and projects sponsored by Community Engagement Center. Programs such as Alternative Break, AmeriCorps Students in Service, Sac State Serves, and Service Learning fulfill our mission to facilitate learning and engagement by linking campus and community for mutual benefit. Through Spotlight, Community Engagement Center will highlight outstanding individuals and programs advancing community engagement in the Sacramento region.
last updated: 9/13/2011