I always had a passion for service and was in a lot of service oriented organizations in high school. Coming to GW, where there were almost ten times as many student organizations it was hard to find your place. But then, through two friends who had rushed their freshmen year I heard about ESA and knew that it was the right organization for me because it would give me the opportunity to help out my community while also building lasting friendships. It was the right call and here I am, three years later with amazing sisters and fond memories of our #sisterhoodthroughservice.
Currently I am working for the Latin American Travel Industry Sales and Marketing Department at Disney. The LATAM TIS team works with our contracted travel agencies throughout the Latin American region helping by training them on Disney Destinations, working with them on Marketing initiatives and answering any questions they have about our products. Anyone who knows me knows how much Disney means to me and how I dreamed of working for them ever since I was in middle school and learned about their programs geared towards college students and recent grads. When I heard that I had gotten accepted to not one, but two positions at Disney, I almost couldn't believe it. I am not going to lie, it was scary to move down here on my own without knowing anyone and to leave all my friends back in DC. But now, almost four months later I feel at home here in Orlando (yes, even with the heat). It has been a dream all around and I couldn't have done it without the positive reinforcement from my sisters at ESA who always encouraged my dream (never once deeming it childish), who celebrated with me when I got the call from HR, and who have already dropped down or have plans to come visit. Including my wonderful big who visits whenever she can. If you are ever in the area or want to come to Orlando, please drop by and say hi!
Through all the service we do with ESA and how much we give back to our community, it is safe to say that our sisters are constantly being compassionate. I have always considered myself a compassionate person but it was through ESA that I truly learned what real compassion was. It is easy to be compassionate and help out a friend in need by being a shoulder to cry on; however it is not as easy to be compassionate and wake up really early on your weekend to stand for hours carrying heavy boxes at a food bank. The latter might be harder, but it is also so much more rewarding and I wouldn't have known that if ESA had not pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. This same compassion is something that I also constantly use here at Disney. It is a trait we value, since all we do has the purpose of making dreams come true. So much so that here at the LATAM TIS team we call our travel agents, agents of dreams. It goes far deeper than that too. We have a whole program, our VoluntEARS program, that focuses on giving back to our community. I got to be a VoluntEAR a couple of weeks ago by helping out at a local food bank after Irma hit, but it is impressive how important volunteering is here at Disney and how much Cast Members give back.
Always remember to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of why you are volunteering! It is so easy to get caught up on the stress of college that sometimes fitting in service events to complete your hours can be frustrating and that takes away from the whole experience. When that happens, take a step back and think of the people you are helping, why it is truly important that you are here instead of sleeping in or studying. I am not going to lie, it happened to me in college and still happens to me now. When I was going to volunteer at the food bank here in Orlando, I was second guessing it because: it was such a long drive, one of my close friends was in town and I had less time to spend with her, I didn't know most of the other volunteers, etc. But I went anyways because I had made a commitment. As soon as I got there and the volunteer coordinators explained why they did what they did and how our work was even more important since many Floridians were affected by Irma, there wasn't a single dry eye in the room. It made me realize how superficial my previous concerns were compared to the bigger picture. At the end of the day I had made new friends, had so much fun volunteering and left feeling accomplished knowing that our had work would help those who weren't as fortunate.
Even if you are far from GW and ESA for any reason, be it that you are studying abroad, on summer break or a recent grad, there are endless volunteering opportunities around you! I encourage you to look out for those because not only will you be giving back to our new community but it is a great way to meet people in your area!
Never stop dreaming! If you are interested in a career with Disney like I was you can check out their blog at https://disneyprogramsblog.com/ or see their available positions at https://jobs.disneycareers.com/professional-internships That includes semester long programs to be done during college or professional internships to be done by upperclassmen or recent grads at any of our companies (ESPN, ABC, Pixar, Marvel, Disney Parks and Resorts, etc.). I am also more than happy to be a resource to any sister interested in doing a program or internship with Disney! Do not be afraid to reach out!
I rushed ESA because I love service and giving to my community. Doing service through ESA has taught me to be flexible and to have an open mind, enabling me to thrive in new environments. For example, this semester I am general press intern at the Kennedy Center. This experience has taught the value of time management. While my internship and classes keep me super busy, I still make time to complete service and cultivate relationships with my sisters. To sisters who would be interested in a similar experience, I would say, DO IT! But seriously, take advantage of all the incredible opportunities in D.C. For example, go see a FREE Millennium Stage performance every night at 6 p.m at the Kennedy Center.
Pro Tip: There's even a free shuttle that you can catch at the metro!
I rushed ESA because I wanted to find a sisterhood that was part of something bigger. ESA's motto sisterhood through service is kind of cheesy but absolutely true. I'm able to have a sisterhood built upon giving back to my community. ESA feels very genuine and authentic. ESA has also taught me how to compromise. When I was traveling with my friend across Europe this past summer, we had to compromise constantly. We had to work very hard to make sure we got what we wanted out of the trip. ESA also taught me how to interact with strangers. On both my trips this summer I relied heavily on strangers. I've never been the most comfortable with talking to strangers but ESA forces you to interact with people you wouldn't ordinarily.
I traveled across Europe this summer with my best friend from high school and then backpacked throughout Iceland with my dad. During my one month trek across Europe my friend and I visited Amsterdam, Belgium, Switzerland, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Germany. I learned so much about myself and about friendship during this journey. I had never done something so independent before which forced me to plan ahead and think before acting. I also learned how to be with someone for one month, nonstop, without hating them at the end of it. It was such a great adventure.
Several weeks after that, I did a 54 mile trail with my dad in Iceland. This was my first time on an extended hike and it was incredible. I bonded a lot with my dad but I also spent a week away from technology with only my thoughts to keep me entertained. It was challenging but worthwhile.
To any sisters who are interested in having a similar experience, I would say, do it! A lot of people I've talked to are so afraid of going abroad completely by themselves that they never end up going. It's going to be a tough experience and you will have bad days but the memories will be forever. These kinds of trips are those ones that you dream of returning to during lecture. Planning a trip like this one is absolutely intimidating but it's monumental.
Make sure to check out her blog elizabethandleila.weebly.com to learn about her summer adventures!
"I wanted to continue to community service when I was in college, and what better way than with a bunch of great girls who also love service. It keeps me accountable for doing service and I've also been able to make some great friends. ESA has allowed me to meet and connect with people from different backgrounds and walks of life which has helped to adapt to the new culture and people that I am meeting as I'm abroad.
Right now I'm studying abroad in Paris, France where I'm getting to see all the sites and try so much delicious French food (fresh baguettes ). I've learned that branching outside of the tourist areas and just getting lost can result in finding some of the best parts of the city that are vibrant with art, interesting people, and cool plants (I love plants haha). Studying abroad made me see a broader scope of where service can go. Traveling and seeing more of the world means seeing more of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and shows just how much service is needed!
To sisters back at GW, I would definitely advise you to take advantage of the chance to study abroad! It's an amazing once in a lifetime experience. And don't be afraid to do study abroad your way and go off exploring on your own some times to go to the places you want to see and do the activities you want to do. Travel everywhere you can! If you're in a country where traveling is easy, take your free weekends and go anywhere you can because there's so much to see. But also make sure to explore your city and country that you're studying in because you'll be amazed by all of the gems there!"
Written By: Madison Forker
On February 20th, I and two other ESA sisters were lucky enough to attend Politico’s Fifth Annual State Solutions Conference, which was hosted in DC’s downtown Microsoft Office. The yearly event hosts interviews with variety of governors from around the country, with this year’s speakers being Governor Bill Haslam (R), Governor Rick Scott of Florida (R), Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island (D), and Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (D).
Given that the all-day event started at 8am, we were happy to arrive and find breakfast awaiting us. Armed with bagels and coffee, we settled in to hear from the Republican half of the governors, Bill Haslam and Rick Scott. While there were certain topics that were discussed with each participant throughout the day (use of the Common Core, job creation, higher education), the hot topic with both Republican governors was who would be running for the Republican nomination in 2016, and if it would be a governor or former governor. Both governors were highly enthusiastic about the possibility, noting potential candidates like Jeb Bush (former FL governor), Chris Christie (NJ governor), and Scott Walker (WI governor). Haslam, being the RGA Chairman, made clear that he’d be pulling for any governor to run, and would encourage it throughout his time in the position.
After lunch (more free food!), it was time to hear from the Democrats. Newly elected Governor Gina Raimondo, as the only woman speaking at the event, had much positive encouragement for any woman looking to be in politics or just to be a leader in their field. Almost every day, she said, she receives letters from young girls telling her that she’s inspired them to become a leader, and that responses like that are one of the big reasons she ran for office in the first place. Last up was Terry McAuliffe, who before being governor was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Naturally, he received quite a few questions about Clinton’s potential bid for the 2016 nomination. McAuliffe said he would obviously support Hillary should she decide to run, but gave no indication as to whether the decision had been made yet (sorry, folks!).
Overall, the State Solutions Conference was a fantastic event to go to, and one that I would highly recommend in the future. Having never been to a Politico event before, I had no clue what I was getting into, but I was thrilled with the result. Most importantly, this event reminded me of why I am so lucky to live and learn in Washington, D.C., and of all of the opportunities available to us in this amazing city.
Thank you to everyone who came out to our annual Spring Alumni Event! This year alumnae joined current GW ESA sisters to make literacy materials for Jumpstart, a DC area organization that promotes early childhood education, and enjoyed a family-style meal at Bucca di Beppo. It was a pleasure to serve and catch up with our sisters, we're so lucky to have such a strong alumnae base!
Written By: Laura Zillman
You come for the three and a half service hours on a Saturday morning, and you stay for the conversation, the clients, and the wonderful apple cider. That’s the Foggy Bottom Food Pantry, my absolute favorite place to serve with ESA.
I actually did two semesters’ worth of service learning and grant-writing at FBFP for my major
requirements, and I loved it! It was an invaluable opportunity to get to know the organization and the people behind it—and it showed me how even a small group of people can make a huge difference in the community.
FBFP was founded in 1981, making 2015 its thirty-fourth year of consistent operation. That’s pretty amazing in the nonprofit world, especially since they have always relied entirely on volunteers and a modest budget to fulfill their mission. That’s over five thousand volunteer hours annually!
Every second and fourth Saturday of the month, those dedicated volunteers (including us!) sort, distribute, and bag about six thousand pounds of food to some of the city’s most deserving residents.
Individuals are able to shop and chat with volunteers, and some quickly become regulars. The mornings fly by, and it’s nice to know that you’re fortunate to have made a tangible difference in someone else’s life before you’ve even eaten lunch.
Besides regular distributions, FBFP runs its Fall Sale each year. It was my first-ever service event as a pledge, and it’s still a favorite. An avid thrift shopper at home, I never really learned to justify Buffalo Exchange’s, er, “deals”. Fifty-cent vases and silverware by the handful is where it’s at, ladies.
So, bottom line? If you’re looking for an incredibly rewarding service experience right off-campus, give the Foggy Bottom Food Pantry a try. Amazing people, and cookies to boot—what more could you want?
I am still a student at GW. I'm getting my Master's degree in English and will be graduating in May. I even work on campus in the Office of Academic Assessment. One of the things that I miss most about ESA is doing community service with all of my sisters, especially at DCCK.
Since graduating from GWU in May I have moved down the orange (or silver) line a couple stops in Arlington, around the corner from the Ballston iHOP. I am a full time graduate student at Marymount University studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I also work at the Starbucks in Georgetown part time, so visit me for a discount or an extra shot in your coffee/latte.
For those who haven't met me yet, my name's Sarah Kranau and I graduated this past May with a degree in Sociology and Communication! For the rest of you, since last we spoke I've bounced around between a few different jobs, but seem to have landed in a really great one for the past few months now. I'm currently an Account Manager with At Your Service Staffing, an event staffing/management company. It's really fun because we staff some amazing venues in the DC area, meaning I get to go behind the scenes at some awesome events (Kennedy Center Honors, Senate events, Supreme Court dinners, etc). Outside of work I also have a part time gig at City Sports that I absolutely love. Last but not least I still hang out with Mollie and Jenna (ESA alums) whenever we get the chance, because of course the girls I met during Rush my freshmen year are still my best friends now.