Tell us about your organization:
The Penn State Parkinson’s Foundation was established in 2011 by Tau Kappa Epsilon, with the mission of to raising funds and awareness about Parkinson’s disease. We do different events around campus to help spread the word. Over the summer, we partnered with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and now we work together to show support for students with Parkinson’s disease and for students who know people suffering with Parkinson’s.
Why do you think your organization is important and meaningful on campus?
Parkinson’s disease is one of the leading deaths for elderly in the U.S. Our organization is important because a lot of people have friends and family who have Parkinson’s, and we provide support groups for those who know or have lost loved ones. It’s a common disease, but still many people don’t know about it.
At the involvement fair, it was cool to have people come up and say, “I know someone who has Parkinson’s.” In high school, I didn’t know anyone else who knew people with Parkinson’s, so meeting others who have experienced the same things I have was comforting.
Similarly, since the disease is fairly common, we are raising awareness about the disease in general. If some Penn State students unfortunately happen to get the disease in the future, they will at least know about Parkinson’s from our work on campus.
How did you decide to take on your role as President of the Penn State Parkinson’s Foundation?
Most of the officers last year were seniors, and once they graduated, they approached me to ask if I would take over the role of President. Since at the time I was sectary of the foundation, I decided to accept the position. I’ve always been a leader, so I knew this would be something I could really work with and grow over the next three years.
Furthermore, during the summer leading up to freshmen year, I knew I wanted to get involved because senior year in high school I lost my grandmother to Parkinson’s after she fought it for 14 years. I knew it was going to be a passion of mine to get involved and help spread awareness.
How does your work with the Parkinson’s Foundation give you the opportunity to use your gifts and passions?
I’ve been strong in leadership my whole life, and at a school as big as PSU, I didn’t think I’d be able to use my leadership skills. Being in the Parkinson’s Foundation has allowed me to use my skills and put them towards something that has affected me my whole life.
I also wanted to help people, and I noticed compared to high school I wasn’t able to participate in as many volunteer opportunities in college. This club has given me the opportunity to be able to do that.
Why do you think your organization makes a difference in this world?
Our organization makes a difference because we are raising money for research, and every dollar counts. Everything we raise – even if it’s $2 from selling grilled cheese – it’s something. If they come up with a cure for Parkinson’s, I can say I helped out with that. I made a difference. That’s why I think the Parkinson’s Foundation makes a difference.
Anything to say for students who might want to join this club?
Our club is passionate, but we are not super strict! You can be as committed or uncommitted as you want – we just want to make a difference in this world. Our website is http://pspf.weebly.com/ for more information on our club.