Octavia Carson has been hooked on serving others ever since her high school began sending students on service trips to help people in her home town of Pontiac.
Coming from a family that utilized many of the services provided by her high school, Carson was fascinated to finally see the process behind connecting people with the goods and services they needed. From that point on, there was no turning back.
A senior majoring in integrated public relations, Carson was honored with the Newman Civic Fellow award Thursday at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party in the Event Center on campus.
Hosted by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center, the party began at 4:30 p.m. with snacks and refreshments on the upper level of the Events Center, followed by a welcoming speech from Volunteer Center Director Shawna Ross. Then Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Tony Voisin presented Carson with her award.
“I came to Central and during orientation I was like, ‘I have to go to the Volunteer Center for our break out session because I know that’s what I want to do,’” Carson said.
Carson quickly rose through the ranks at the Volunteer Center, becoming more and more involved as the years went on. She began by working the front desk, and later joined the Special Events Committee, which she has been the Student Coordinator of since 2012.
Carson has taken several service trips abroad to places that include Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, where she taught English to young children among many other things.
Graduate Supervisor and On-Campus Program Manager Ashley Watters said that, in looking for students to celebrate, she and other superiors tend to look for the qualities Carson has.
“Octavia has an infectious attitude,” Watters said. “She’s passionate about everything she does and I think that is one of her most amazing qualities. The best thing is that she gets you excited about it as well.”
As the Student Coordinator of Special Events, Carson organizes such large events on campus as Issue Day, Be My Neighbor Day and MLK Day of Service. Throughout her time at the Volunteer Center, Carson has tried to get involved in as many campus and abroad programs as possible in order to search for the real roots to social issues.
“I just really dove into every project they had because the impact of them is so amazing,” Carson said. “It’s just shaped me into so much of a better person. Not only am I learning about the root of social issues, I’m learning the root of culture.”
After Carson was presented with her award, each Graduate Supervisor or Student Coordinator of the center’s many other programs gave a short presentation before recognizing their respective committee members and other committed participants.