Study abroad influences local volunteer work

Senior Taylor Davis started to volunteer at Colbert County High School after studying abroad. “He always wants to jump in and make the world a better place,” said assistant professor of Education Jessica Mitchell.

by Life Editor Melissa Parker

April is National Volunteer Month and senior and music education major Taylor Davis is one of the students taking time to volunteer.

Davis actively volunteers in the community, said Assistant Director of Student Engagement Bethany Green, who concentrates on leadership and volunteerism.

Davis said he has volunteered for five years.

“The first time I volunteered was back when we did community clean up after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes,” he said. “(A group of us) were helping with clean-up around campus and the Alabaster area.”

He said he did not start volunteering in Florence until the previous year.

Davis traveled to Haiti in November with Alternative Breaks and taught English to the villagers. He has been to China, as a paid employee, where he worked with kindergarteners to teach them conversational English.

The two study abroad opportunities opened his eyes to a bigger world, he said. It led him to find his current volunteer work at Colbert County High School.

“I am working (there) volunteering with an English Language Learner student who came from Yemen,” he said. “I’ve been going over there twice a week and helping him learn English.”

He is the type of person who always wants to help, said assistant professor of Education Jessica Mitchell.

“That’s the first thing I think of,” she said. “He always wants to jump in and help and make the world better.”

Friend and junior Madison Butler said he is willing to help his friends without him asking questions.

Davis has also participated in a research project this year.

Davis polled local administrators about what they look for when observing teacher social media usage, Mitchell said.

“He wanted to know what those things were so he could share in our Educator Preparation Program so he could help other people be prepared,” Mitchell said.

Assistant professor of Secondary Education Gary Padgett taught Davis in two classes but has helped him outside the classroom.

“I’ve worked with him on a number of research projects, which he’s presented at national and regional conferences, which for an undergrad is amazing,” he said.

Mitchell said she traveled with Davis and Padgett to a conference in Missouri and was sick during the trip. Davis jumped right in to help, she said.

“He’s the big uncle,” she said. “When he traveled to China, that was the nickname they gave him. He was the big uncle that everybody wanted to be buddies with because he was just there to help and care. You just see it on his face, and you just know through his attitude and his actions that he’s really trying to help other people.”

Padgett said, to him, Davis’ volunteer work stands out the most

“I’ve known him for two years, and I just can’t wait for another eight,” he said. “I want to see in 10 years just what he has done. Of all the students I’ve taught, I think he’s going to be one of the ones that makes a global impact.”

Davis said he thinks the more opportunities people give themselves to volunteer, the more cultured and diverse they will be.

His personal mantra is “How diverse is your diversity?” There is never enough diversity, he said.

“We should all be champions of volunteering,” he said. “The more you volunteer, the more you’ll want to, and the more people will see that it’s a great thing to do. Why wouldn’t you want to help someone?”

“I’ve worked with him on a number of research projects, which he’s presented at national and regional conferences, which for an undergrad is amazing,” he said.

Mitchell said she traveled with Davis and Padgett to a conference in Missouri and was sick during the trip. Davis jumped right in to help, she said.

“He’s the big uncle,” she said. “When he traveled to China, that was the nickname they gave him. He was the big uncle that everybody wanted to be buddies with because he was just there to help and care. You just see it on his face, and you just know through his attitude and his actions that he’s really trying to help other people.”

Padgett said, to him, Davis’ volunteer work stands out the most

“I’ve known him for two years, and I just can’t wait for another eight,” he said. “I want to see in 10 years just what he has done. Of all the students I’ve taught, I think he’s going to be one of the ones that makes a global impact.”

Davis said he thinks the more opportunities people give themselves to volunteer, the more cultured and diverse they will be.

His personal mantra is “How diverse is your diversity?” he said. There is never enough diversity, he said.

“We should all be champions of volunteering,” he said. “The more you volunteer, the more you’ll want to, and the more people will see that it’s a good thing to do. It’s a great thing to do. Why wouldn’t you want to help someone?”