Amber Marshall (4th Quarter, 2007)

4th Quarter, 2007
Mesothelioma Memorial Scholarship
Amber Marshall

I am in my second year of the Child and Youth Worker Program at Sheridan College. My passion is helping people to see that they are valuable. I want others to know that they matter to this world and that they are cared for. I decided to apply for college as a Mature Student. I was accepted into the Child and Youth Worker program and I am excited to make a positive difference in the lives of those I work with.

A Portion of Amber’s Winning Essay:

Amber Marshall

My name is Amber Marshall, I am in my second year of the Child and Youth Worker Program at Sheridan College. During my first year I received a 4.0 GPA, this was a great accomplishment.

As a high school student I never had the confidence to believe I could go to post secondary school, I had a learning disability and I was never able to get the grades I needed. When I was 25 I realized that I needed to go back to school if I wanted to get a job that I enjoyed.

My passion you see is helping people see that they are valuable. I want others to know that they matter to this world and that they are cared for.

I decided to apply for college as a Mature Student. I was accepted into the Child and Youth Worker program and I am excited to make a positive difference in the lives of those I work with the Mesothelioma Memorial Scholarship will help me to pay for school and reach my goal of being a child an youth worker.

Below I have listed some of my volunteer experience and how that has either impacted my schooling or how my schooling has impacted my leadership skills.

Throughout my life I have volunteered in many areas. As a young teen I spent one summer volunteering at a therapeutic horseback riding camp for children with disabilities. I was also very involved in my church and often volunteered teaching Sunday school, teaching midweek programs for children, vacation bible school, and children’s outdoor adventure camp. As I got older I started volunteering as midweek leader for a Jr. High group, I also volunteered as a camp leader for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s camp in Paris ON. Since 2005 I have volunteered with Master’s Commission in Oakville Ontario, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph, and Overflow Youth Conference.

Volunteering with Master’s Commission gave me the opportunity to develop leadership skills and also gave me direction for my life. Master’s Commission is a leadership program for University Students. The students take distance education courses while volunteering within the community. I was responsible for researching and setting up volunteer opportunities for the program. I was also responsible for mentoring the students and giving leadership and direction to the program. This volunteer position allowed me to develop skills in leadership, mentoring, administration, and working within a team. These skills are all very valuable to my future career as a child and youth worker.

Throughout my first year of this program I was able to apply my volunteer experience to my learning. The things I learned in my courses allowed me to see the skills that I was already using but it also gave me an opportunity to reflect on my leadership style and to make changes in order to be a more effective leader and a better communicator.

During my time with Master’s Commission I was also involved in the planning and leading of a team to the Dominican Republic to bring aid and encouragement to the Dommicians and Haitians living there. While planning the trip to the Dominican I had a dream to do something for the prostituted in the area. These women had very little opportunity to make money and prostitution was one of the only ways that they could make enough money to send their children to school.

The other team leaders were very supportive of my dream and they helped me to make it a reality. We went out in groups of three and bought a prostitute for the night, we then took her out for dinner and got her a cab home so she could spend the night with her children. The name of the prostitute was Miriam, we were able to show her that she had value and that she deserved to be respected. I cannot begin to articulate all that I learned from Miriam and how she has changed my world view. All I can say is that it has helped me to see how we are all human, and the decisions we make are often determined by the circumstances of our lives.

I see how fortunate I am to have grown up in Canada, with the parents that I have. Being a big sister was a very rewarding experience. From June 2005-August 2006 I was a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph. My little sister was an 8 year old girl. I picked her up once a week for a 3 hour outing. I wanted to be a big sister for quite a long time but I was never able to make the year long commitment. When the opportunity arrived, I jumped at the chance to make a difference in the life of a little girl.

This experience was very rewarding, as well as challenging. I learned how to handle my little sister’s passive aggressive behaviour and engage her when she was reluctant to participate in activities. While taking the child and youth worker program, there were many times when I was able to reflect on my experience as a big sister and apply what I was learning to those experiences.

While being a big sister was very rewarding, it also proved to be very challenging. There were many times when I was not sure how to handle the behaviours of my little sister. I often spoke with my coordinator and gained much wisdom from her. Throughout the year, I spent with my little sister I persevered through the difficult times and was able to end our friendship in a very positive manner. When different behaviours and situations are discussed within the classroom setting I am able to contribute the techniques and wisdom that I gained from the Big Sisters coordinator.

Volunteering with Overflow gave me the opportunity to further develop skills in working within a team, team building, leading and overseeing volunteers, organization and multitasking. In this past year of school, two of my courses were focused on working and leading groups. My experience as volunteer coordinator gave me plenty of fist hand examples to reflect upon. I was able to apply the theory I was learning within the classroom to my experiences. When volunteering at the Overflow Conference in May 2007, I was able to make changes to my leadership style and in turn was able to be a more effective leader due to the theory and techniques I learned while in the Child and Youth Worker Program.

I also want to mention my experiences with children who are in foster care. My parents are foster parents and I have taken an active role with the children who live and have lived in my home. I have attended training meetings with my mother and have gained wisdom from my parents and the Child Protection Workers. I have focused my spare time on mentoring these children during the school year. I have been able to apply so many of the theories and techniques that are taught in the program. Some of them include managing aggressive behaviour, using a strength based approach, counseling, active listening skills and relationship building. Although I know that this is not really recognized as volunteer work, this has been where I have focused my attention during this past year.

My family recently had 2 young girls move into our home. I felt that the were in need of my attention and care so rather than volunteer with an outside agency, I worked at building relationships and making a difference in their lives.

Throughout the time thy have lived in my home I have continuously found ways to apply my learning. Sometimes just through simple conversations, other times by diffusing an aggressive situation. I have been able to help them reflect on their actions and learn how to make different choices.

I want to be a Child and Youth Worker in order to help children and youth discover who they are and to help them become all that they can be. I am passionate about helping others realize their value. My life is a reflection of my passion. Thank you for considering me for this award.

Copyright 2007,, a StraightForward Media property.

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