Building her legacy of kindness at Meredith College, Rachel Hefner, ’21, dedicates most of her time volunteering to improve the lives of those who live within her local community.
Rachel is working toward her Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in Spanish with the goal of attending graduate school in the future. She hopes to eventually get a job in prison reform.
Her drive for self-betterment and educational success is apparent in her achievements as a Presidential Scholar, a Service Scholar, and a member of the Honors Program. “The Service Scholars program was brought to my attention by an admissions counselor during my application process. I was eager to be a part of a program that supported my love for volunteering.”
Volunteer work is an essential part of who Rachel is. She is a firm believer that volunteering is the first step toward social change. Her passion for volunteering started in middle school when she led a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis.
As she has grown older, her efforts have become less about raising money and more about building relationships with individuals and trying to create change within her community.
“At a young age my parents helped me realize how fortunate I was and that a lot of people could be in a better place in life with just a little assistance,” said Rachel. "Volunteering is not about putting a band-aid on issues that our communities face, but assisting community members to make change.”
Neighbor to Neighbor, a mentoring program in Raleigh, is her favorite volunteer experience during her college career. “Getting to use my ability to speak Spanish and incorporate my social work skills has been a really great experience.”
The foreign languages and literatures department has played a fundamental role in Rachel broadening her horizons at Meredith. It has been a resource in her volunteer work and even led to her studying abroad in Spain.
“The department has been instrumental in me finding passions that I didn’t know I had,” said Rachel. “The faculty here saw something in me as a freshman and helped push me into things I was nervous about and made me confident in my potential.”
Rachel believes the encouragement she received from Callie DeBellis, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures, beginning her freshman year has helped mold her into the person she has become. Their close connection has provided Rachel with new opportunities.
“Professor DeBellis invited me to attend a dinner with union workers who represent farm laborers because she knows I’m interested in social work and social justice. Connections developed and as a result, doors open,” said Rachel.
Rachel loves the immediate impact she has on Meredith students by being a Resident Assistant. She is able to use her drive for improving lives and implementing kindness within this position. “Watching my residents grow and become more responsible and mature has been the best reward,” said Rachel. “You get to support them and form really good friendships along the way.”
The availability of resources that Meredith offers has made Rachel a more well-rounded person. “I’ve become stronger at Meredith by taking all the tools and opportunities provided and letting them not only make me a better person, but also the people around me better too.”
By Leigh Ann Charles, ’19
Explore the social work major
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