"I hope that when I leave, my organization will continue to grow and help others."
Sonia Chaudhary, 19, is a student at the University of Connecticut who leads her peers to contribute their time and money to charitable causes.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Sonia: I am the president of the Pakistani Community at the University of Connecticut (PCUC), and I donate my time to several other cultural activities and organizations that bring people together and work for charity. PCUC does various activities and events that donate to charity.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Sonia: The Pakistani Community at the University of Connecticut (PCUC). It is located on the main campus in Storrs, CT.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Sonia: Our biggest project is the annual cultural show. We have only been an organization for three years, but we have managed to have support from over 100 students on campus and at branch campuses. This past year, our show raised close to $3,000, of which half was donated to a charity for the victims of the tsunami disaster.
What inspired you to get involved?
Sonia: My culture inspires me the most, and also my family, who encourage me to do well in school and outside of school for the future of our community.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Sonia: I have been involved in the South Asian culture and community since I was born, and college has brought out the best in me. I am dedicated to making the PCUC the best that it can be, and I hope to have support from everyone around me.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Sonia: The best thing about my experience is the feeling of helping others and uniting people at school to help others as well. It is a rewarding feeling to know that my peers are using their cultures to benefit others.
What is/was the hardest part?
Sonia: Besides funding, the hardest part about my experience is the feeling that I only have two years left in school to do something great with the organization, and I want my last two years to go be fun. I hope that when I leave, my organization will continue to grow and help others.
What was the biggest surprise?
Sonia: The biggest surprise was when I realized how many people I would be in charge of. I never noticed how many people put in so much effort to be a part of the PCUC and how many people work together to put on such great community events.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Sonia: I have become much more responsible than most of my peers at school, and I am proud of myself for being the head of such a great organization.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Sonia: I would tell them that it is the best feeling in the world to know that you have helped another, no matter what the situation is. From showing your peers that you can organize people to do good things, to donating money to charity, working for a cause is a wonderful feeling.
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