“The biggest lesson I learned at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) was that everyone has a story,” said Emma Johnson, a junior majoring in social work at Missouri State University. “That story, and all that comes with it, influences the path you go down in life.”
Johnson participated in MSU’s Leaders in Community Service program in the 2022-23 academic year, and she worked for NAMI. During her time there, she clocked 10-12 hours per week gaining work experience while serving her community.
“I loved the idea of being able to serve the community while also making much needed money as a broke college student,” she said.
Each week, Johnson worked with vulnerable populations and facilitated grief and loss support groups. She also conducted peer counseling and offered resource sessions with NAMI clients.
The experience broadened her perspective, she noted.
“Being aware and understanding…will allow you to connect with people on a deeper level. That connection is priceless.”
What is LCS
LCS is a student organization at Missouri State dedicated to serving the Springfield community and giving life to the MSU public affairs mission. Student participants must qualify for the Federal Work Study program and then interview for selection into the program.
Once students are chosen and matched with a local non-profit agency, students work with the agency (as paid employees) and gain invaluable experiences throughout the academic year.
“The best thing about the program for me was that I got to reach members of the community I might not have had the chance to without LCS,” Johnson said.
Students are also required to participate in at least one service project in the community each semester.
“Getting to know the non-profits here in Springfield and having the chance to volunteer at different agencies was a great experience for me,” she added.