Long before Megan Zack (CSH ’98) became director of sustainability and project architect at Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, she honed her leadership skills as a volunteer with DePaul’s local Amnesty International chapter. Below, Zack reflects on the importance of that experience.
During my time at DePaul, I volunteered with the local Amnesty International (AI) chapter and became a co-coordinator of the organization. It was part of the DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA), but we were also part of an umbrella organization. This gave me a chance to lead volunteers as well as share ideas with more than 20 other students interested in service and leadership. Our AI volunteers worked one-on-one with refugee families, mainly from Somalia and Cambodia, on the north side of Chicago. We helped children with homework, and we assisted adults with reading the mail or understanding notes that were sent home from school. We also ran an after-school tutoring and play session for larger groups of children that were looking for help or just needed a safe place to go after school.
One of my most memorable and enlightening experiences as an AI co-coordinator was when our group organized a service trip to San Francisco paid for by various fundraising efforts. While in California, we met with local refugee organizations, volunteered at a soup kitchen and a women’s shelter, and worked one afternoon at an HIV prevention program. The experience of organizing a week-long service trip and finding a way to pay for it was an invaluable lesson.
Being part of the leadership of DCSA was one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences I had at DePaul. I learned organizational and leadership skills and acquired a broader understanding of world politics.