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Katie Maningas: Volunteering and Beyond

My experience as a Boston University student began as a part of the First Year Student Outreach Project, or FYSOP for short. I figured the best way to get to know Boston was to do a week-long volunteer program that took small groups of freshman around Boston in order to make connections with each other and their new community. During the short week before classes start is where I met Katie Maningas.

Katie is from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania; a small town outside of Philly. A senior this year, she initially wanted to attend Boston University because of the university’s emphasis on community service.

Katie began her freshman experience as a part of FYSOP with a focus on the youth of Boston. Katie believed she would be directly involved with children. She was surprised to find out that she would actually be doing indirect service work — the “backstage work that keeps organizations going and continuing their missions” as Katie put it. Most humbled by her experience at a public school where she helped clean the school up for the coming school year, she said, “it really helped set a course for my college and career paths: one that was centered around community, service, and humility.”

The next year Katie wanted to continue her service around Boston and became a staff member for FYSOP. Her focus area for sophomore year was Human Rights; Katie’s reminiscent thoughts on her first leadership position led her to say, “everything was so eye-opening and presented to me ideas and concepts that I have never even heard of before, that I likely might not have learned in the classroom.” As a staff member, she was able to learn how important young voices can be.

Through her experiences with FYSOP, Katie has come to understand how impactful volunteering is, for both the community and the students participating. By actively engaging students in their community, FYSOP is helping them understand and respect their new home, Boston. There is a drive within those students to share what they have learned about their community and how others can help as well.

 It has also helped Katie become a beacon of support for her first-year volunteers and has taught her how to offer herself as someone who can help others. Volunteering has opened Katie’s eyes up to the privileges she has been given, and her desire to pursue a life outside of her comfort zone. She said, “I swore to myself that in order to really pursue a life of civil servitude, I needed to understand the hardships of other communities but also understand that those hardships do not define those communities, but strengthen them.

FYSOP 2017 was her last time being a staff leader for BU since she will be graduating in Spring 2018. Her energy was amazing during that week and her whole group agreed that she made their first week in Boston better than they ever imagined it could be. Personally, I learned how caring and affectionate Katie is to the world around her.

Graduating from BU this Spring with a major in International Relations and minor in Public Relations, Katie hopes to work as a paralegal for a human services firm and hopes to work with AmeriCorps in the education sector. Over the last four years, Katie summarized her experience at BU with three words, “difficult, enlightening, humbling.”

Her advice to other students is that one should always be vulnerable and open to change no matter how hard to may seem. Katie told me, “Change, for most people, is upsetting, at least initially. But if you look at only in a negative frame, then you’ll be wasting so much energy wallowing over the change when you can instead use that energy dedicated to learning and growing from it.”

Volunteering around Boston has made Katie an active citizen, student, and friend to many.

Delanie is a senior at Boston University who loves Pavement's iced tea and the Charles River. She has a passion for writing and is on an adventure to find the best coffee shop in Boston. 
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