Alum Missy Nielsen on the importance of community engagement

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UW Bothell is home to a wide range of students with varying backgrounds. As a full-time employee and parent, Missy Nielsen was one of many non-traditional students to find support within the UW Bothell community. Nielsen recalls the collaborative environment fostered by IAS faculty and staff while pursuing her degree in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior. She was motivated to combine her coursework with her passion for community engagement through Community-Based Learning & Research (CBLR) classes. “Community-based learning sets the tone for how we interact with each other,” says Nielsen. “It’s important for students to be intentional in pursuing volunteer opportunities as they can connect learned skills and incorporate different perspectives into their future employment goals.”

After graduating in 2007, the career counselor and “committed community volunteer” received the opportunity to work with the KPTZ Radio Station as a guest speaker. This relationship with the non-profit public radio and its community of over 100 volunteers eventually led to Nielsen hosting her own radio show “Everybody Can.” Her program is “a conversation about volunteers and volunteer opportunities” which connects listeners to a variety of local and national non-profits, from Autism Service Dogs of America to the Port Townsend Education Foundation. The show’s focus is inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”

Nielsen urges current students to start seeking out volunteer opportunities with local school districts, animal shelters, or state departments. Registering for upcoming CBLR courses is another way to start building connections to the greater community while continuing to gain professional experience.