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Volunteering helps graduate make connections in community

Louise Niyogushima

Louise Niyogushima has volunteered with the Rotoract Club at Pellissippi State, forging connections in the community and with other college students. She already will know some of her peers at the University of Tennessee when she transfers there this fall.

As a self-proclaimed “broke college student,” Louise Niyogushima has learned that everyone has something they can give to help others, even if it’s not money. 

“I am a broke student,” laughs Louise, “but I wanted to do something to make a difference in the community. So, I joined the Rotaract Club at Pellissippi State, even though it was just for my last semester. I made connections with other people and made new friends from other colleges. I learned that even if I don’t have money, I can still give my time to people. Everyone has time to help!”  

A native of Tanzania, Louise is graduating from Pellissippi State with a degree in political science and will transfer to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville this fall to work on earning a Legal Studies Graduate Certificate. She plans to eventually work as a paralegal in immigration law.  

During her time at Pellissippi State, Louise has learned the importance of getting involved on campus. “Connection is very crucial,” she says. “Getting involved is a great way to learn from other people and to get to know more about those who are different from you.”  

One of the best ways Louise has gotten involved is by volunteering with the Rotaract Club, a national organization with the mission to bring together people ages 18-30 in universities and communities worldwide to organize service activities, develop leadership and professional skills and have fun.  

The Pellissippi State Rotaract Club is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Farragut, and members of both chapters have served together at several service projects this spring. In addition to participating in World Rotary Day at Vine Middle Magnet with other local Rotary and Rotaract chapters, the club has also volunteered with Laundry Love, a program designed to ease the burden of laundry care for struggling families, and planted 35 cypress trees at Girls, Inc. in Oak Ridge. 

“Through the Rotaract Club, I got to meet a lot of people who have spent years volunteering,” says Louise. “It was amazing because I thought I would meet other people with similar experiences as me, but I also met people who have been volunteering for so long helping the community.”  

The Rotaract Club at Pellissippi State was founded in 2013 but has been inactive for several years. The club was officially reinstated at Pellissippi State this spring. Instructional Technology Specialist Stephanie Markowitz is serving as the club’s advisor, and a group of students have already jumped right into action. 

“Louise has inspired me through her desire to serve and help others, along with her ability to lead and take initiative,” shares Markowitz. “Her passion for serving others, her beautiful smile, and her kind heart are contagious.” 

One of the benefits of joining the Pellissippi State Rotaract Club is meeting members from other chapters, including the UTK Rotaract Club. Louise will already be connected with the club and will know other students when she transfers to UTK this fall.  

“I am glad that we could connect Louise with the UTK Rotaract Club so she can continue serving our community and making a difference in the lives of others after her time at Pellissippi State!” says Markowitz. 

In addition to volunteering, Louise has worked as an orientation leader at Pellissippi State, where she helps students to get involved and make their own connections around campus. Louise has also taken advantage of Pellissippi State’s student support services such as tutoring from the Academic Support Center and resume help from Career Services. 

“I appreciate how much the College really helps students to get involved and provides lots of activities that help students make connections,” she shares. “It’s been a great experience, and I wish I could stay at Pellissippi State longer!”