Scholars find new ways to volunteer during COVID-19

(July 6, 2020) By GlyptusAnn Grider Jones
Scholars find new ways to volunteer during COVID-19

Will Randolph

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, McConnell Scholars have found new ways to perform community service—a core pillar of the McConnell Scholars Program.

"College students have shown a good deal of resilience in how they're serving their communities," said Will Randolph, the recently elected community service chair of the McConnell Scholars Program.

Instead of serving directly and hands-on in local communities, Randolph said many scholars have now turned to virtual and individual service opportunities. Popular volunteer opportunities include remote-tutoring high school students and transcribing documents through Zooniverse, an online, volunteer-based research platform.

"Students have delivered food to vulnerable populations, picked up groceries for people, made masks and helped disperse important information about COVID-19 to non-English speaking populations," Randolph said. "Despite the disruptions caused by the disease, I think college students have demonstrated a lot of creativity in how they volunteer."

Each McConnell Scholar volunteers at least 70 hours of community service a year as part of their scholarship experience. In total, McConnell Scholars volunteer more than 2,730 combined hours a year.

Randolph was elected by his peers in April to lead the Scholars' volunteer efforts in the upcoming academic year. He's spending this summer looking for ways students can establish long-lasting service relationships in the community, something Randolph said he benefited from once he moved to the University of Louisville from his hometown of Franklin, Ky.

Since his first semester at UofL, Randolph has regularly volunteered with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, a refugee resettlement agency in Louisville. This summer, he's volunteering as a college mentor to refugee students in Jefferson County Public Schools.

Randolph is pursuing an undergraduate major in political science with a minor in Spanish. He is a travel competitor for the McConnell Center's moot court team and part of the American Enterprise Institute's Executive Council at UofL.