My name is Paige Shervanick. I like to be active- swimming, volleyball and just being outside in general. I’m also a fan of singing, cooking and eating! My favorite food item is probably pasta or eggs.
I am majoring in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. I’m not totally sure about this major or what kind of career I want, but I chose it because it seemed really interesting and I know I could help a lot of people with it. I am from Fairfax, VA and have two younger siblings- I have a 15-year-old sister and a 12-year-old brother. My parents were always teaching us to help out and serve others. Usually it was small things like helping to clean up after an event at our church or school, but those small things left a big impact on me.
I’ve found that I enjoy service because I love knowing that I am helping others where they need help and because it’s a great way to meet other like-minded people like my fellow SERVErs. In high school, I would say I had two great service experiences. The first was through a peer mentoring program in my school. Peer mentors would assist the students in the “Options Program,” which served students with intellectual disabilities. Over the years I helped different students, but during my junior and senior years I got to help one girl in my grade in particular. Becoming friends with her taught me a lot about service. It’s not just about showing up when you’re supposed to and doing the work. It’s about building a relationship that lets both the one being served and the server know that they are not alone and that they have dignity and worth.
Also during my junior and senior years in high school I went to WorkCamp with my church. WorkCamp creates crews of random people who are from different parts of the country to repair a resident’s house together. This experience showed me what a great community service can build. I now have much stronger relationships with the people I came to WorkCamp with and I met a very interesting and wonderful group of people on my crews. It also showed me what kind of person I can really be. My crew leader this past summer described me as a “servant leader.” I don’t usually think of myself as a leader, but I know because of my WorkCamp experience that I can be one. I also found it so amazing what a small group of people can do when they work together. We repaired a lot of different little things and added a fresh coat of paint where one was needed. But more importantly we offered our resident the gift of companionship. It’s powerful to know what kind of impact you can have when you come together with others.
I really just happened upon SERVE. I never wanted to be part of a Living Learning Community. When it came time to fill out my housing contract, I was looking at the dorms online and came across the list of LLC’s. In the end, I chose SERVE because I saw it as an opportunity to get to know people who held the same values as me. The SERVE class also intrigued me because no one has ever taught me about service before. It was always just something that should be done, not something to be studied. I am looking forward to taking a more critical look at service so that I can make sure my service is effective and ethical in the future.
I’ve been so happy with my experience in SERVE so far. I love the community that I was automatically a part of. I know that we’ll be able to make a great impact in the community individually, but more importantly, when we come together as a team. One of the things I really love about SERVE is that everyone is very different, yet similar. We all have vastly different majors and interests. We’re from different parts of Virginia and different states altogether, but we all came together because service has impacted each of us in one way or another. I am so thankful that I am a part of SERVE and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.
And I thank God for that.
I am from a mom and dad and sister and brother,
They all bother me in their own special ways,
But we a team,
With inside jokes, and respect, and support.
We walk around a lake together in April,
We travel in a car together in August,
And since I am from a place of Hokies,
We go to Blacksburg in October.
I am from a place where “the dishes are clean,”
I am from a place where the “wise chicken says,”
I am from a place where dinner is sometimes at 9 o’clock,
When we get home from the pool on a summer Sunday.
I am from a dad who bakes and shops late at night,
Because the night is always “young.”
I am from a dad who helps with homework,
And makes our stuffed animals come to life.
I am from a mom who plans,
She wants to show us all the things,
So we do stuff-
We go downtown, we go to movies, we play sports, we go to games.
We read books together.
I am from a sister who wants to help you with your problems,
Before she fixes hers.
She “knows where that is,”
The thing you’re missing.
But she really doesn’t.
She just wants to help.
I am from a brother who has two older sisters.
He plays his video games,
But then he cares about us.
I think he still might freak out a little
When we get on an elevator without him.
So yes I’m from a town,
It’s called Fairfax, Virginia.
But more importantly I am from a community,
It is called my family.
I am from a place of love,
And I thank God for that.
What I Bring to the Table
My Strengths (Deliberative, Responsibility, Relator, Learner, Harmony)
In their Asset-Based Community Development, Kretzmann and McKnight discuss how we really shouldn’t be looking at how to remedy a community’s problems. For a brighter future where community members take pride and ownership in their community we need to focus on the community’s assets-their strengths- instead of their weaknesses. The community can be built up in this way, instead of the community becoming subject to others that can fix their perceived problems. The same is true when we look at human beings. We all have assets and strengths that can make us wonderful members of these communities. We need to find those strengths and learn how to use them to help build better lives for ourselves and those around us.
When I took my StengthsQuest test before coming to Virginia Tech, my top five strengths, with the first one being my top strength, were Deliberative, Responsibility, Relator, Learner and Harmony. I was honestly disappointed when I learned that my top strength was was “deliberative.” Being deliberative sounded more like a weakness than a strength to me. Over the past month or so though, I have realized that I really am very deliberative. I have also learned that this is not such a bad thing. I was going to split a Biology textbook with another girl but I kept thinking about it because I was not sure if splitting a textbook would be a good idea. What if she always had the book when I needed it? In the end, I learned that I did not even have to buy a book because there was a free textbook online. My deliberative personality saved me money by encouraging me to keep thinking about this decision until I was sure. I’m sure my deliberations can help me in other ways too, especially in service. When most people see a service project, their first instinct might be to jump right in where they see fit. I might be able to help because I am good at stepping back and seeing where things make sense before action is taken. Maybe we need to talk more with the community to see if a project will help or hurt them. We might possibly need to rethink our strategy for completing a service project so that we can be more effective. My deliberative personality can help others in a preventative manner. Since I like to think about things a lot before jumping in, I am more likely to see possible obstacles from the start instead of finding them halfway through the project.
My second strength, Responsibility, surprised me much less than deliberative. I knew that I have a strong sense of responsibility in all that I do- in my school work, in jobs that I have had, in my relationships with others, etc… Because I have this sense of responsibility, I am able to serve without as much supervision. Because I feel responsible for what I do, I always try to do a good job no matter who is watching. My sense of responsibility allows others to trust me more. If someone is leading a service project, they would be able to assign me to something and trust that it would get done without checking up on me that much.
My third strength and fifth strength were Relator and Harmony, respectively. I think these go together nicely because they are both about relationships with others and trying to find common ground. These are especially important in service, because really good service includes some sort of relationship. When relationships are built for and through service, there is a greater sense of responsibility for the community that you have now become a part of. When service is done within a relationship, it is so much more meaningful and impactful. Although one-time service opportunities such as Get-On-the-Bus type trips are fun and meaningful, they sometimes require little effort on the part of someone who “gets on the bus” and therefore take little thought and energy. There is little sense of community. Since I enjoy relating to others and seeking harmony within communities, I am willing to be patient and engage in long-term service opportunities. These long-term service projects allow for relationships to be built and the work to become more meaningful. Hopefully I could use that strength of mine to encourage others to seek opportunities like this.
Finally, my fourth strength was Learner. I am curious about the world around me. This can be helpful in service because I naturally want to understand why things are a certain way. I don’t just want to address the surface problem, but really get to the root of it. That takes some investigating, but sometimes I really enjoy that. My “Learner” strength could help me in service because it could allow me understand the root of the social issues that we are addressing through service. I might be able to provide better service if I understand what and who I am serving and why I am serving them. I also want to learn about a wide range of social issues, which will encourage me to get involved in a variety of different service opportunities.