Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Leadership lived: Sophomore with a passion for volunteering helps new students feel welcome

Ben Paoletti, a sophomore political science and philosophy major, says he chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of its affordability, location in the state capital and its commitment to civic engagement.

His passion for volunteering led him to become a member of the Leadership for Life Service Program. Members complete 40 hours of service each semester and live in a service wing in Lincoln Residence Hall, where he serves as a resident assistant.

Paoletti, who is from Batavia, Illinois, recently helped new students move into Lincoln Residence Hall by carrying boxes and guiding them through the check in process.

“It’s a lot of responsibility to be a resident assistant,” he said. “Obviously there’s a learning curve because you have to account for at least 40 residents in your wing, but it’s very beneficial because you get to see the joy and happiness you can put in people’s faces.”

Paoletti is also a student project coordinator for the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, vice president of the Alternative Spring Break student organization and is a former undergraduate senator on the Student Government Association.

“My experience at UIS has really sparked my passion for volunteerism and civic engagement,” he said.

In March, Paoletti traveled to Houston, Texas with a group of 21 UIS students as part of Alternative Spring Break. Students gutted homes that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey and cleaned up debris caused by the storm.

“Alternative Spring Break’s philosophy is to use our spring break as a way of helping people instead of vacation,” he said. “I would rather volunteer over spring break because it’s more fulfilling for me. Being able to see that I can help people is worth it.”

Following graduation from UIS, Paoletti wants to earn his master’s degree in political science and hopefully work for the city of Springfield. He’d like to possibly run for political office one day and maybe even become a mayor.

“I’m glad I came to UIS because I can be a leader on campus and I’ve created friendships and relationships that will last me a lifetime,” he said.

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