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ETSU student hopes to promote volunteerism with student-led organization

David Floyd • Aug 30, 2015 at 9:15 PM

When East Tennessee State University senior Handaa Enkh-Amgalan worked at the United Way headquarters in Washington, D.C., over the summer, she realized ETSU could benefit from a student-led United Way chapter.

“United Way is concentrated basically on income, education and health,” Enkh-Amgalan said. “Through these channels they organize different campaigns.”

Tennessee only has one student-led United Way chapter in the state — at Middle Tennessee State University.

Enkh-Amgalan said her organization would be primarily focused on benefitting the community through a variety of projects — specifically anything related to promoting income, education and health. These projects could include anything from operating coat drives, providing access to education and assisting veterans without housing.

“Most volunteer organizations at ETSU are concentrated on ETSU,” Enkh-Amgalan said. “But most ETSU students are from this area — Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol — so this organization would be more community-focused.”

Currently, Enkh-Amgalan’s organization is still in the planning stage, but she’s beginning to develop connections with campus officials, hoping to attract mentors and fulfill university-mandated requirements for student organizations.

Enkh-Amgalan talked with faculty in the ETSU Honors College who were interested in developing the program as a partnership between the program and the Honors College Student Council, a student-led organization that represents members of the honors college.

Enkh-Amgalan said there are ETSU students who volunteer for the Washington County United Way chapter, but there isn’t an official branch organized to connect the chapter with students at ETSU.

The creation of an ETSU Student United Way chapter would bridge this gap, enabling the county program to connect more readily with ETSU students.

“I already talked with the president and CEO of United Way of Washington County and Johnson City and he said he would set up a meeting with me ... to talk about how they can help us make it happen,” Enkh-Amgalan said.

She anticipates ETSU’s Student United Way program will begin operations in October and will organize at least one event per month. But before they can begin operations, her organization must first receive confirmation from both ETSU Student Activities and United Way Worldwide.

Enkh-Amgalan said she also hopes her organization can network with other university volunteer organizations.

Originally from Mongolia, Enkh-Amgalan came to the U.S. and initially studied at American University in Bulgaria before moving to ETSU and enrolling in the Midway Honors Scholars program, a scholarship program reserved for transfer students.

“Handaa is an enthusiastic, committed Midway Honors Scholar,” said ETSU University and Midway Scholars Director Joy Wachs. “She was challenged this summer during her Washington Center Internship to initiate a United Way chapter on campus and now is ready to engage the ETSU student body in that project.”

After receiving her degree from a graduate program and acquiring some experience in the U.S., Enkh-Amgalan plans to return to Mongolia to apply some of her knowledge in her home country.

But for now, she’s invested in getting her organization off the ground.

“My vision is to organize a student-led organization that has a focus on financial stability, education and health and also to engage with other students and create a positive learning community for ETSU students,” Enkh-Amgalan said.

Anyone interested in participating in the program can contact Enkh-Amgalan at [email protected]

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