Why Volunteer?

WIN_20150401_193411 (2)Hi! My name is Sufia, and I am a rising junior concentrating in History of Science with a secondary in Chemistry. I am a member of Cabot House and enjoy being a director of the South Asian Dance Company (SADC). I also am a part of the Kidney Disease Screening and Prevention (KDSAP) society and a member of the First Generation Committee. In regards to work, I enjoy being an HSA tutor, giving tours of Harvard’s campus, working as a manager at Lamont Cafe, and teaching Japanese students English. I will be sharing one of my most meaningful experiences in high school.

I had always wanted to interact with children in a medical capacity; volunteering at the local hospital throughout high school allowed the pain and suffering behind the labels of chemotherapy and radiation to be revealed. The young children in the oncology ward influenced me most, particularly an eleven-year-old girl, diagnosed with leukemia at age six. Her words resonate in my mind, “I don’t want my mom crying. I wish God would cure me or take me, not give her false hope.” In following weeks, I visited the oncology ward daily, entering the room of the patient I had grown to love to find her emptying the contents of her stomach after chemotherapy. “I just want to reach my twelfth birthday,” she revealed, “It hurts too much to consider long-term goals. As long as cancer is part of my life, this life isn’t mine.”

That little girl passed away two weeks before her twelfth birthday. This high school experience impacted me greatly, allowing me to determine a specific area of focus and strengthening my resolve to move further in pediatric oncology. I am currently spending this summer working at a pediatric oncology hospital in Peru, simultaneously helping conduct cancer research and practicing my Spanish. That high school experience shaped what I wanted to do as a career, and the main piece of advice that I would give to high school students is this: if there is any field that you think you may be even remotely interested in, it is worth spending time volunteering somewhere that allows you to explore it, as it may lead you to what you want to spend the rest of your life doing.

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