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Kayla Steinberger

MD/Phd Student
WVU School of Medicine

“The opportunity to connect with others, learn from others, and serve a greater purpose continues to inspire me.”

What inspired or inspires you to volunteer? 

My volunteering was initially driven by the desire to immerse myself in a new community. I have always had a desire to make a positive impact and contribute to the betterment of society. The opportunity to connect with others, learn from others, and serve a greater purpose continues to inspire me. Through volunteering, I have fostered meaningful relationships. The fulfillment derived from helping others and witnessing tangible results reinforces the belief that volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to engage with and enrich communities.

What volunteer experience are you most proud of and why? 

While I may not have been a Girl Scout or experienced traditional camping, my involvement in volunteering with the organization stands out as a source of pride. Despite lacking prior knowledge, I embraced the opportunity to learn alongside young girls, demonstrating that anyone can step out of their comfort zone and grow. Serving as a role model, I not only acquired camping skills but also imparted confidence and resilience to the girls, illustrating the power of determination and adaptability in overcoming challenges. This experience reflects my commitment to personal growth and empowerment, while also contributing to the development of future leaders within the Girl Scout community.

Can you share a memorable moment or story from your volunteer experiences?

One particularly memorable moment from my volunteer experiences involved taking the Girl Scouts to go caroling at the local nursing home. As we gathered to spread holiday cheer, I witnessed the girls' enthusiasm and compassion shine brightly. What made this experience truly special was seeing the genuine connections formed between the girls and the elderly residents. As they sang familiar tunes and exchanged smiles, I observed moments of pure joy and gratitude shared between generations. For some residents, it was a chance to reminisce about cherished memories; for others, it brought a sense of comfort and companionship during the holiday season. As we concluded our caroling session, the girls were beaming with pride, realizing the impact they had made through simple acts of kindness. It was a heartwarming reminder of the power of community and the importance of spreading happiness wherever we go. This experience not only left a lasting impression on the residents but also deepened the girls' understanding of the value of compassion and service.

In your opinion, why is community engagement important, especially for college students?

Community engagement, holds immense importance for college students for several reasons. Firstly, it offers practical opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations, fostering a deeper understanding of academic concepts and their practical implications. This hands-on learning approach enhances critical thinking skills and prepares students for future careers by providing valuable experiential learning experiences. Moreover, community engagement cultivates a sense of social responsibility and empathy in college students. By actively participating in volunteer work, students develop a greater appreciation for diverse communities and become more attuned to the needs of others. This heightened awareness fosters a lifelong commitment to civic engagement and social justice, equipping students with the skills and mindset necessary to become active and compassionate citizens.

Furthermore, community engagement provides college students with opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Engaging in volunteer activities allows students to explore their interests, strengths, and values outside of the academic realm. It provides a platform for building leadership skills, enhancing communication abilities, and fostering teamwork—all of which are essential for personal and professional development. Additionally, community engagement serves as a bridge between the campus and the surrounding community, promoting positive relationships and mutual understanding. By actively engaging with local organizations and residents, college students contribute to the well-being of the community while also gaining insights into its unique challenges and opportunities. Overall, community engagement plays a crucial role in the holistic development of college students, empowering them to become informed, compassionate, and socially responsible individuals who are equipped to make meaningful contributions to society

Have you developed any new skills or learned something unexpected during your volunteer experiences?

Volunteering with the Girl Scouts has provided me with numerous opportunities to develop new skills and learn unexpected lessons. One particular instance stands out when I volunteered for a camping trip for a group of Girl Scouts, despite having little prior camping experience myself. As I prepared for the trip, I found myself stepping into a leadership role that challenged me to learn and adapt quickly. I familiarized myself with camping essentials, such as setting up tents and cooking outdoors, through research and guidance from fellow volunteers. Despite initial uncertainties, I embraced the opportunity to learn alongside the girls, demonstrating that willingness to try new things and persevere in the face of challenges. 

Throughout the camping trip, I discovered the importance of effective communication and teamwork in fostering a positive and inclusive environment. From organizing activities to resolving conflicts, each moment presented a chance to cultivate leadership skills and build meaningful connections with the girls. Moreover, volunteering with the Girl Scouts has taught me invaluable lessons about mentorship, empowerment, and the importance of fostering confidence and resilience in young girls. By serving as a role model and guiding them through new experiences, I witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of providing support and encouragement. Overall, my volunteer experiences with the Girl Scouts have not only allowed me to develop practical skills but also enriched my life in unexpected ways. Through dedication, determination, and a passion for empowering others, I have discovered the joy and fulfillment that come from making a positive difference in the lives of young girls and the broader community.

How do you think your volunteer experiences will shape your future (personally or professionally)? 

As a future primary care physician and a current student-parent, my volunteer experiences will shape my future in profound ways. Firstly, my involvement with the Girl Scouts demonstrates a commitment to serving others and fostering a sense of community, values that align closely with the principles of primary care medicine. As a primary care physician, I have the opportunity to build strong relationships with patients, providing not only medical treatment but also support, guidance, and advocacy for their well-being. My experiences in volunteering, particularly in leadership roles with the Girl Scouts, will enhance my ability to communicate effectively, empathize with others, and collaborate with diverse groups of individuals—all essential skills for a successful physician. Moreover, my volunteer experiences may also influence your approach to healthcare and parenting.  By engaging with young girls and empowering them through mentorship and guidance, I am already laying the groundwork for fostering a supportive and nurturing environment in your future practice and family life. 

As a primary care physician, I have the opportunity to advocate for the health and well-being of families, providing guidance on preventive care, healthy lifestyles, and developmental milestones. My experiences as a volunteer leader with the Girl Scouts will enable you to connect with families from diverse backgrounds and understand their unique needs and challenges. Furthermore, my experiences in volunteering may also shape my parenting style, instilling values of empathy, resilience, and social responsibility in my child. By modeling the importance of giving back to the community and supporting others, I will be imparting valuable life lessons that will influence their character and behavior.