Cara Wittig has always had a heart for volunteering. The Summer Volunteer Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital offered her the perfect opportunity during summer break.
Wittig had a variety of volunteer positions around the hospital—doing arts and crafts in the Imagine Room, assisting in Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) events, and helping with the Volunteen program. She says she loved helping the interns and staff at fun summer events.
Witting wanted to volunteer at St. Jude to gain experience in a medical setting and improve her communication skills. She ended the summer with something greater: a new outlook on life.
“The summer I spent at St. Jude allowed me to see that it’s not what you do; it’s why you do it. The quality time I spent with the people at St. Jude held more value than a simple list of words on my résumé,” Wittig said.
Wittig says the Summer Volunteer Program gave her a chance to become self-aware and find her purpose while serving others in an environment that encompasses hope.
“The individuals at St. Jude were resilient,” Witting said. “Their small gestures, smiles and hellos made a significant impact on me. You find pure joy when you discover what you are passionate about.”
Her favorite memory in the program was at a POE bingo event with patients and their families. She played with a little girl who won for the first time. “The look on her face when she realized she had won the Barbie set she had been eyeing all night was a moment I will never forget,” Wittig said.
A student at the University of Mississippi who works in the Neuroscience Department, Wittig says she plans to continue volunteering throughout her college years.