The collegiate chapter of em[POWER] at Rutgers University offers a not-for-profit organization that focuses on community service through connecting the resources of Emerging Markets professionals worldwide to improve the conditions of their communities. They focus on investing in at-risk youth from the ages of 10-24 to provide them with the tools and resources that they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
A few of em[POWER] members, Tammy Hsu (Current President 2011-2012), Patricia Yong (Vice President), and Subiksha Natrajan (Incoming President 2012-2013), sat down with I Am Rutgers to share their experiences within their organization.
I AM RU: What inspired you to be a member of em[POWER]?
Tammy: I saw the potential in the types of solutions that the organization proposed. This is not just another organization that raises money and donates it to a cause, but instead, the members of em[POWER] get hands-on experience with research that helps develop the non-profit organization.
Subiksha: em[POWER] first caught my eye at the 2010 fall involvement fair. I had been in college for a little over a year and still hadn’t found a place to get involved with extracurricular activities. After trying to be a part of other clubs, em[POWER] seemed to be most appealing to me. The idea of helping landfill communities around the world was interesting, but the fact that we also dedicated ourselves to finding a solution caught my attention. I was more interested in the technical side that em[POWER] had to offer.
I AM RU: Do you feel like you’re making a difference?
Patricia: Personally, my main goal as a member is to make people aware of the detrimental states of landfill communities. Oftentimes, college students especialy, get caught up in their daily lives and forget about the big picture. Realizing the enormity of various social issues going on in the world around you can really put things into perspective.
Subiksha: I personally feel that em[POWER] is making a huge difference! We’re especially focusing on Bangladesh right now, dedicated in trying to find the solution to help landfill communities there. We’ve been fundraising and raising awareness to help the people who are caught in those awful situations.
We hold an annual art exhibition to portray artwork made by children in these countries to show who exactly it is that we’re helping. My mission as a member of em[POWER] is just like everyone else’s: to help.
I AM RU: What kind of activities/events do you participate in as a member of em[POWER]?
Tammy: As members of em[POWER], not only do you plan events on campus to fundraise and create awareness, you also take part in community service events. Students occasionally attend training meetings with the staff of the non-profit organization to help develop ideas and solve problems for our projects overseas.
Subiksha: Every year we hold the Art Exhibition that displays paintings made by children from landfill communities. It’s a good way to raise awareness and spread the word! We have also held events such as a Battle of the Bands concert, conferences, bake sales, em[POWER] dinners, and Rutgers Day.
Tammy: The Global Philanthropic Symposium (GPS) was another memorable event. On campus, it was the first event ever where numerous service organizations collaborated on planning a large-scale event together to make a huge impact on campus. This event took extensive planning and allowed are members to create new friendships as well as partnerships with many other student leaders.
I AM RU: What makes em[POWER] so unique?
Tammy: em[POWER] allows students to get an international hands-on experience through working with our staff on projects and research opportunities to make a difference overseas. This year, our members also started to take part in local community service projects such as clean-ups and making cards for kids in the hospital as well.
We’re planning to implement a pen pal project with our project site in Bangladesh to create more of a connection between our members and the landfill communities we serve there.
Patricia: We’re focused on specific projects for improvement rather than simply donating money.
Subiksha: em[POWER] stands out particularly because our money is going to a group who give their money to actually creating a physical solution to the problem of landfill communities. We send out school supplies to the students in Bangladesh and we have had members visit to try to set up an em[POWER] chapter over there.
I AM RUTGERS: What has your experience been like as a member?
Tammy: I have been on the E-board for two years and my experience has been very rewarding and memorable. I have learned so much from the members of the organization and from helping the organization grow as a whole.
Patricia: I’ve become a lot more aware of the world around me through this great learning experience, and I hope to spread the same awareness in the future. I think its really important that we are worried about the people abroad and are trying to help them, but it’s also important to realize the importance of the issues here at home. In the future, I would like to see em[POWER] get more involved in the New Brunswick community.
Subiksha: A major conflict we have had is getting the word out about our organization. Our dedicated members are great assets to the organization but it would really help to have a little more manpower. As next year’s president I’m really hoping to reach out to more people to show them what our club has to offer and exactly how they can help out.
I AM RUTGERS: Why should other students want to join?
Patricia: em[POWER] has a great mission and we’re trying to be as influential as possible in terms of integrating green technology with establishing infrastructure in places abroad. Knowing that and helping to spread the word about these accomplishments is a really worthwhile thing to dedicate your time to.