Shiley Ferguson (BS ‘19)

Shiley Ferguson standing in a field of crops.

While most students are on vacation or enjoying a relaxing break from school, Shiley Ferguson donates her time to others through Alternative Spring Break (ASB) volunteer programs. Ferguson has already participated in two ASB trips and will embark on her third and final trip this year before graduating with a nursing degree in May.

Ferguson was inspired to join the ASB program to give back to communities less fortunate. She says each trip has become “a week of reflection and renewal for my love and passion for volunteerism. I am reminded that being compassionate and empathetic requires people to reach out and engage with the community.”

During her first ASB in 2017, Ferguson traveled to New Orleans with a team of 10 students. The team worked with various local organizations, including Books for Prisoners and Grow Dat Youth Farm, which builds leadership skills in young adults through teaching sustainable agriculture practices. Ferguson says “systemic racism and the role of social action was the highlighted topic throughout the trip and guided our perception of volunteerism.”

I am reminded that being compassionate and empathetic requires people to reach out and engage with the community.

In 2018, Ferguson’s spring break focused on “community engagement in terms of Hurricane Harvey relief” in Houston. She worked with Project C.U.R.E. sorting and packing medical supplies for developing countries.

This year’s trip is a little closer to home at Camp Summit in Paradise. Camp Summit brings campers (ages 6-99) with developmental or physical disabilities to enjoy a week of fun activities.

“As volunteers, we will be there to serve as motivators and support campers with activities of daily living such as feeding, bathing and social activities,” says Ferguson.

Ferguson’s position this year goes beyond just volunteering as a Student Site Leader. A new position, Site Leaders are responsible for recruiting, planning and communicating with other volunteers as well as “fostering growth in leadership and professional development skills within the team.”

Outside of ASB trips, Ferguson volunteers with Vogel Alcove, which works to end child homelessness, and the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. Throughout the semester, Ferguson is conducting research she will present at an international conference in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, Vietnam.

Page last updated 11:09 AM, March 12, 2019