Miranda is a fourth-year English major in the College. She is the program director for HELP Line at Madison House, a volunteer-run confidential telephone service for UVA students (434-295-TALK). She also is the co-chair of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT), a peer education group that aims to reduce the negative outcomes associated with alcohol or other drug use.
How did you first get involved?
I knew that I wanted to do some sort of service in college and looked to Madison House as a place where I could be connected with some great programs. In particular, I had an interest in mental health, so HELP Line was the perfect fit. I also found ADAPT in my second year, which was along the same lines, and my passion really grew the longer I was in that organization.
What has been most rewarding about your community involvements?
HELP Line is an interesting organization because most of what we do is confidential and anonymous, so it is not something we can really talk about openly until we become non-confidential volunteers, which are comprised of the PD team and marketing/outreach staff. I think the most rewarding experience of being involved with HELP Line is knowing that there are students just like you giving up some time every day to do a very emotionally taxing job for no recognition whatsoever. We do what we do because we truly want to help others. I like knowing that every small conversation our volunteers have on the phone counts toward a greater purpose.
I've also loved my time in ADAPT, and definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of that job has been giving presentations to different organizations on Grounds and seeing students connect with what I am teaching them. I usually get really great questions from students, and that always makes me happy, because I know that they are taking something away from my presentation. It is great to know we have so many students who want to engage with the topic of safe drinking and bystander intervention, as the more students learn, the safer our community becomes.
How do you expect to be involved in the community in the future? What's your #CommunityCommitment?
I want to continue to integrate service into my life outside of college to some capacity once I leave UVA. I am not sure how that will look quite yet, but I am looking into other short-term crisis intervention hotlines to volunteer for wherever I move next! Additionally, I do plan to pursue a graduate degree, hopefully in public health, and I want to focus my studies on substance abuse and hazing, in particular, because it is a topic I've grown to love.
How would you encourage others to get involved?
Follow your passions. I didn't know about HELP Line when I first came to UVA, but I knew I wanted to work on mental health in some capacity. That passion led me to HELP Line, which has been by far one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career. Also, be open to new opportunities. I had never heard of ADAPT before reading Connections one week in my email, and through that email, I was able to be connected with an organization that has hugely influenced what I want to do with my life.
Who at UVA has truly inspired you?
My HELP Line volunteers and ADAPT members inspire me everyday! No joke! They work so hard and all have incredible stories themselves. In particular, I have to give a shoutout to our HELP Line trainers, who help prepare out volunteers by leading them through a 30-hour training course throughout a semester. I remember when I was a trainee how close I grew to my group, and that is a testament to the volunteers who take the time to really get to know the students in their training groups and talk to them about real issues. Another shoutout to the incoming leadership team for ADAPT, because we are a small organization that really tries its best to make an impact on Grounds, and I cannot be more proud of the students who are going to be leading our group next year.
Where is your favourite place to eat on the Corner?
Lemongrass! Thai food is my jam.
If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?
In an ideal world, everyone would have access to some sort of mental health care for free. Everyone can use someone to talk to, and I think if more people had access, the world would be a better place.