My name is Lauren Thomas and I am a senior at Georgetown University. I am from Alexandria, Virginia but lived most of my childhood abroad in Singapore and Belgium. I am a student athlete at Georgetown University, as I have been a member of the Women’s Lacrosse Team for the past four years. I heard of Grassroots from one of my teammates earlier on in the beginning of the semester and I was really interested in becoming a part of the program. I met with Deidra Sanders and she told me a bit more about what the program was all about and how I could become a volunteer. I am also enrolled in a Community Based Learning Social Justice class this semester and one of the requirements of the course is to work with an agency in the D.C community. Part of the course work involves completing four hours of community work each week for ten weeks and after hearing about Grassroots, I thought this would be a perfect fit for me.
After I decided to become a volunteer I attended two training sessions before our first week of going out to the schools. These training sessions not only taught me a lot about HIV/AIDS facts I never knew before, but it was also really eye opening to see the many student athletes involved in the program and the passion they all had for making a difference in the community. This passion for the program really fueled me even more to want to be a part of the program and involve myself, offer my time and explore an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young teens. After the two training sessions, I was not exactly sure what to expect to provide for the kids but since the program has started, I immediately realized the ways in which I was going to be able to make an impact and provide for the kids I was going to begin working with. I want to be a role models for the kids. I not only foresee myself opening up discussion about serious issues, but I also see myself getting much exposure to issues of social inequalities in education and health and see that I can make a difference in the lives of these young kids.
I think this program offers a unique and special opportunity for Division I college athletes to become engaged in their local community. I want to show how I have become a successful college athlete that has been able to manage my time in balancing school and sports. I want to show how I have set and achieved goals and ultimately learned how to work in a team environment, and overcome hardship. My goal throughout this whole process is to serve as a positive role model for others. I hope to form relationships with these kids at the same time as teaching them knowledge about HIV/AIDS. I want the kids to interact and have fun while learning and interacting with the Grassroots volunteers who can help them develop a love of learning and playing, as well as attitudes and skills to live healthy and HIV-free lives. Not only do I take on a leadership role and become knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS in general and, specifically, in Washington D.C, I hope as a result of this experience, the kids I work with will be able to continue to develop as socially mindful people and future leaders.