Creating Meaningful Connections

Share this Story

Jennaphur Nixon ’23 serves as a volunteer on campus and in the community

University News | April 6, 2021
The month of April is dedicated to honoring volunteers across our nation and encouraging volunteerism in our communities. As part of the 1000 Points of Light Campaign, April first became National Volunteer Month in 1991.
Students at Virginia Wesleyan are no strangers to volunteerism. The campus community has long been engaged in service to others as part of the Wesleyan tradition. During April, VWU celebrates volunteerism and the valuable impact volunteers make in the lives of others.
Jennaphur Nixon ‘23, a criminal justice major with Hispanic studies and psychology minors, devotes time in service to the campus and Coastal Virginia communities through volunteerism. She is active in programming offered by Wesleyan Engaged: Civic Engagement and Service Learning in The Lighthouse, and through her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., which places a significant emphasis on service to others. 
“Ever since I was a kid, I knew that I enjoyed helping people and wanted to do it for a living. Seeing just how much I've changed someone's life motivates me to do it more.”
During her years at VWU, Jennaphur has been an active volunteer with several organizations, including the Tidewater Food Bank, where she made food “backpacks'' for children in need; Impact! VA, where she was involved in helping with home repairs; and Volunteer Hampton Roads, whose offices are on the VWU campus, where she assisted in building help kits for a number of local non-profit organizations.
On campus, Jennaphur participates in “campus cleanups,” where she helps to keep the campus beautiful by removing debris and trash from public areas.
Jennaphur notes that volunteering in all of these different settings has helped her learn what experiences she likes best: the ones that allow her to deal directly with people. 
“I believe that people who are helped in some way turn around and help someone else, so it's like a chain of people helping each other.”
One of her most memorable moments during a volunteer experience came when she was building a wheelchair ramp for a woman who hadn't left her house in about two years. Jennaphur said that the amount of gratitude the woman expressed when she saw the ramp was something she will never forget.
“Personally and professionally, engagement is important to me because of the connections. No matter how introverted someone is, there will almost always be a time where they need some kind of human contact. I want every connection in my life to be meaningful in some way, so why not better the lives of others while I'm at it?”
Students like Jennaphur can find a wide variety of volunteer opportunities during their years at Virginia Wesleyan.
Wesleyan Engaged has established partnerships with many civic organizations to facilitate meaningful student engagement activities, promote the growth of faculty-led service learning courses, and improve the Hampton Roads community and beyond.
Students can volunteer as individuals and as part of student clubs and organizations, athletic teams, and sororities and fraternities. They are recognized for their volunteerism in a variety of ways, including through the Presidential Volunteer Service Award program.
Virginia Wesleyan students also have opportunities to volunteer throughout Hampton Roads in programs such as Homeless Shelter, Marlins Vote, and at Nauticus.
Dr. Brian Kurisky, Executive Director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning and Chief Diversity Officer at VWU, leads Wesleyan Engaged. He oversees civic leadership and engagement in both the curriculum and student life.
"Engaging with our community is vitally important," says Dr. Kurisky, "because if we wish to solve issues facing society, we must work on a local level. By engaging in the local communities, we can solve local problems fast."

Learn more about Wesleyan Engaged at VWU. Read more about Jennaphur Nixon’s success story at The Lighthouse: Center for Exploration and Discovery.