What do you get when you give?

Empathy. Responsibility. Service. It all clicked for senior Hannah Hospodar when, at 5 years old, she joined her fellow Girl Scouts in a food drive ... and embraced a feeling she’d never forget.

From then on, volunteering became a regular practice. She took pride in the impact she had on others, acting with the intention to do more than simply check off a requirement and move into something more rewarding.

“You're serving other people and other communities, and seeing the end result is such a rewarding experience,” Hospodar said. “Seeing a smile on their face, being able to provide them with things they might not be able to afford. That's a different type of result. It's not something that's quantifiable.”

In high school, Hospodar would continue the trend through volunteer and leadership programs. However, she was in for an eye-opening shift when she came to Bradley.

“Peoria is small and a lot of people know each other, but it's also kind of got a big city feel,” Hospodar said. “I did not come from that. I came from the corn. It's a different community. Volunteering back at home, I wasn't exposed to all the different demographics.”

Suddenly surrounded by diverse viewpoints and the bustling home for collaboration that is Bradley’s campus, the social media and sales marketing major felt like she was stepping into a whole new landscape.

“I love the professors here because they don't just talk to you. They make you think critically. They make you collaborate with individuals. Bradley has opened my eyes to things. And I think by having an open mind, you're able to absorb so many perspectives and it really just kind of changes your view of the world.”

Citing the interwoven personal and professional growth she sees coming out of her volunteering experience, Hospodar encourages students to get involved in the communities available both on and off campus. With opportunities on the Braves Volunteer website and through Bradley Serve, all it takes is willingness to put in the time.

“Why wouldn't you want to help out the area that you are living in? In the beginning, I never viewed volunteering like that, and I think that's something that comes with exposure, which is a very important thing. There are probably people on campus who don't give two cruds about volunteering,” she said. “Just come a couple times. Eventually you'll be like, ‘Wait, I really like this.’ I think it's an exposure mentality to becoming socially responsible.”

That social responsibility carries over into Hospodar’s career as well. Ensuring her first job out of college offers opportunities for service, she’ll be moving to Florida and starting at Gartner this January. Her hope is that the work she does in the community will help her settle in and meet people with similar values, much like it has during her time at Bradley.

Jenevieve Rowley-Davis