First Generation College Student Awarded Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Compassion and kindness is something is that Kylie Davis strives to exhibit throughout her life.

First-generation college student Kylie Davis is one of this year’s Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients. An undergraduate at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), Kylie works 35 hours per week at 3 different jobs to finance her education and make ends meet. Despite juggling her course work and jobs, Kylie still manages to make the time to  participate in community service — a love of hers that stems from childhood.

Dedication to Community Service Instilled at a Young Age

From a young age, Kylie’s parents instilled generosity and empathy in her, dedicating their family to community service. She volunteered with them at a soup kitchen growing up, especially helping out during the winter months where more people in need would come in search of food and warmth. Kylie strongly values her community and shows her gratitude by giving back, saying, “My tie to my community is one of my many drivers. My parents taught me the importance of compassion and kindness and it is now something I strive to exhibit throughout my life, whether it be in the workplace or in my personal life.”

Service Work at CU

Kylie carried her commitment to giving back with her when she began her college career, taking on a role as a peer mentor as well as being a youth counselor for low-income middle school students. As a peer mentor through the Diverse Scholars Program at CU, Kylie guided freshmen through the trials and tribulations of their first year of college. She also helped organize community-building events as well as made significant efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all at CU. As a youth counselor, she taught middle schoolers basic accounting and finance, seeing herself reflected in the students and hoping to set an example for them to look up to. One of her goals is “to inspire and aid the success of others,” which she excelled at in these roles.

Alternative Spring Break to Teach Earth Science to 5th Graders

Kylie’s philanthropic spirit led her to apply for a Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship, where she was given the opportunity to travel outside of Colorado and engage in service work over her one week off from college in the spring. Kylie’s Alternative Spring Break took her to YMCA Camp Campbell in California where she taught earth science to fifth graders.  She was responsible for not only educating these students, but for establishing an engaging and safe environment for them, as the program is part of a sleep-away camp. She reflected on this experience, saying, “It had an incredible impact on me. Each of the ten kids I looked after really made a long-lasting impact on me.” This opportunity took her passion for mentorship to new heights, and she looks back on it fondly, saying, “Each child I spent the week with had such a unique personality, and it was so rewarding to get to know them.”

It is our privilege to reward students like Kylie with scholarships to follow their passion for community service and take part in a unique opportunity they would not otherwise be able to afford.

[Read about some of our past Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients]

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*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.

Cassie Sprong Helps Young Boys Experience the Great Outdoors

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

By Jaela Zellers*

Cassie Sprong

University of Colorado Boulder Sophomore and Alternative Breaks participant Cassandra “Cassie” Sprong has been a major advocate for service work for many years of her life. From joining her high school’s Service Learning Club to going on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to Santa Cruz, California, Cassie is certainly no stranger to the joys of volunteering. She is currently a member of the CU Boulder Service Learning Club, which sends college students out to schools around Boulder to tutor native Spanish-speaking students. In her own words, Cassie believes that “Service is not ‘giving back’— rather, it’s working together to improve”.

Cassie’s passion for service work can be traced back to when she was around the age of 9 years old, during a very memorable experience in which she was walking around Denver with a friend and noticed that there were many individuals who were in need of some form of assistance, whether it was housing, food, shelter, or all of the above. Her solution to this was to make enough sack lunches to feed at least 20 people around that same area. The fact that such a simple gesture of humanity was able to improve the lives of so many less fortunate individuals in her own community gave Cassie the boost of confidence that she needed to make volunteering a life-long passion. This experience has led her to participate in even larger and more impactful service projects such as building a house for a low-income family with her high school Service Learning Club in Tijuana, Mexico.  At such a young age, she possessed an amazing sense of awareness of the injustices in the world around her as well as a desire to make that world a little better.

Cassie, who has always been inspired by her passion for biology and the environment, is currently majoring in Integrative Physiology. During the Spring of 2017, she was chosen as a recipient of the Casey Feldman Scholarship which allowed her to attend the Alternative Spring Break Trip that was focused on youth science education at YMCA Camp Campbell in CA. During her Alternative Spring Break trip, she and a group of about 9 other highly motivated and driven CU students spent their days hiking through the Redwood Forest and teaching 6th grade boys about the importance of preserving and respecting nature. One of her favorite elements of her trip was watching as those boys began to change their perspectives and take the environment a little more seriously over the course of just four days. Not only was she able to share with these boys her passion for science and learning, but she was also able to watch some of them experience the environment in its most natural form for the first time. For many of these boys, this was the first time that anyone had ever invested the time into taking them hiking and/or camping.

In addition to being a full time student, Cassie has also taken up a job as a hostess to make ends meet while she’s in college, due to having to be financially independent. With no monetary support from her family, Cassie sought out the Casey Feldman Scholarship as a means of helping her to take her love of service to the next level. With humanitarian views very similar to those shared by Casey Feldman, there are very few people more deserving of the scholarship.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that more students may experience the joys of service work over their college break.

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*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.