I found my leadership in volunteering for others

Robin Johnson (middle) at MVP’s Adopt a Beach event at Surfside Beach. | Courtesy of Robin Johnson

Volunteering means more than just logging your hours on a form after helping out once or twice.  It can be for the sole purpose of helping others — but in my case — has helped me grow as a leader and a member of society.  

I grew up volunteering, so joining the Metropolitan Volunteer Program was a natural fit when I came to UH. I transferred here my sophomore year not knowing anyone so I become a general member of MVP to meet people.

The next year I was asked by the MVP Director at the time — Chris Pinto — to apply for a Co-Chair position and I thought why not?  

I become very involved in this position and loved the work so the next year I moved up to the Environment & Sustainability Chair position during my senior year. I was extremely nervous about this new position because I was now in charge of planning some of the volunteer events and would have to learn how to work with Co-Chairs.  

I had zero leadership experience so this was way out of my comfort zone, but I knew I had to push through it in order to grow.  It wasn’t long after I was in my Chair position that the opportunity to become the Assistant Director of Finance was thrust upon me. I was barely settled in with my Chair position, but others believed in me so I took the leap.  

This ended up being a great experience that I learned so much from.

My new position consisted of me ordering marketing and promoting MVP’s various events.  I had no idea what I was doing and thought I wasn’t qualified, but this ended up being an amazing job.  

I definitely made some mistakes, but going through this experience made me a much better leader and better at dealing with problems as well as learning how to solve them. Even though it was a lot more work that what I bargained for,  I was still able to volunteer and stay grounded in the reason I joined.

Now I have finished my undergrad degree and have just started my master’s.  

I am currently the Director of MVP and could have never imagined this happening when I first joined as a volunteer just three years ago.  

Even though I have both a bronze and silver President’s Volunteer Service Award for all of my hours as a volunteer, it means more than just a medal for helping others.  Volunteering has truly helped me. I have learned more about my community, the people, and leadership skills. I’ve loved getting to work with various community partners and meeting so many students who also share this passion.  

Volunteering is great for every college student to help their community and learn more about themselves.  

Metropolitan Volunteer Program Director Robin Johnson is a graduate marketing student. She can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment