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"The insight and knowledge I've gained while serving in local, national, and international communities has given me a strong foundation for a lifetime of leading change for our society."
Harry S. Truman Scholarship Finalist
Although Amanda Gonzalez came to Florida State University because she thought she was going to find her way onto Broadway through the School of Theatre, her path took her a different route of service and academic achievement; and in return, she has made a lasting impact on the FSU community and throughout the world.
Not only did she represent FSU as a finalist for the Harry S. Truman national scholarship, Amanda has spent every spring break leading Alternative Break Corp (ABC) trips to serve communities throughout the country. She even initiated and co-led the first international spring break, where she and a group of her peers taught English in the Dominican Republic. "Because of my experiences with ABC, I have benefitted from the ability to understand, assist, and relate to people throughout the world. Through service, I have been able to uphold my commitment to bettering our world."
Besides serving as the Director of ABC, Amanda is the Vice Chair of the Service Scholar program, a mentor for students in the Social Justice Living Learning Community, and a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society. She has served as a Facilitator for the President's Retreat, a Morale Captain for Dance Marathon, and as an intern for Florida TaxWatch.
Amanda credits FSU's Center for Leadership and Civic Education for her achievements over the past three years. "There is no other place on campus where I feel more at home than The Center. When I participated in the Service Leadership Seminar just before my freshman year began, I had no idea that the people I would meet there would become my closest friends, role-models, mentors, and part of my family. The Center is at the heart of everything I love about FSU and, without a doubt, it will continue to be my portal to success."
She was awarded a "Serviceship" through The Center, which allowed her to spend the summer of 2007 in Spain working at BASIDA, an organization which cares for people with HIV/AIDS. "Caring for individuals with HIV and AIDS was an experience I'll keep with me for as long as I live. I cannot say it was the easiest thing I've ever done, or the most glamorous, but I can say with certainty that it was the most rewarding challenge I have ever been fortunate enough to have." Amanda will return to BASIDA this summer with an ABC group.
For her leadership, service, and academic achievements, Amanda has been recognized with a number of regional and national awards, including the Florida Campus Compact "Excellence in Service" Award. She was also selected as one of 30 students nationwide for the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship and spent last summer at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. This highly competitive program prepares young adults for an advanced degree and influential roles serving the public good. Other honors include the Young People For (YP4) Fellowship from the People for the American Way foundation, and several awards from FSU.
Amanda, an Interdisciplinary Social Science and Family and Child Sciences Honors student, has maintained a rigorous academic schedule, while working part time and participating in over 1800 hours of community service since freshmen year. "Everyone should supplement their education with service. I believe that the time I've spent serving others has helped many people in need; but more importantly, those people have helped me. The insight and knowledge I've gained while serving in local, national, and international communities has given me a strong foundation for a lifetime of leading change for our society."
This spring, Amanda will graduate after completing her Honors in the Major research project, which includes a grassroots needs-analysis of Madison County followed by the implementation of a plan to address those needs. She has been awarded funding from the YP4 foundation to carry-out her project and will have the opportunity to creative positive, sustainable change in yet, another community. Following graduation, Amanda plans to work in the public sector for two years before pursuing a Master's in Public Administration or Law School. Her dreams include establishing her own non-profit organization, running for public office, and "a great big family."