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Service Leadership Student Brings Joy to Pediatric Patients

When picturing life as a kid, many probably don't imagine hospitals and surgeries. But for pediatric patients at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, that is reality. That's why Patrick Holbrook, a sophomore Service Leadership Program student at the Chaifetz School of Business, spent the summer of 2019 volunteering to create a fun experience for young patients at the hospital.

Located north of Chicago in Park Ridge, Illinois, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital was named a 2018-2019 Best Regional Hospital. Volunteering at the hospital semi-weekly, Holbrook planned various activities with children in the pediatrics department to get their mind off of why they were there and to simply enjoy being a kid. Throughout the summer Holbrook visited with patients to play with dolls, paint and play video games.

"I also brought toys, games, movies, crafts and other activities to patients in order to make their experience at the hospital more positive," Holbrook said.

Patrick Holbrook, sophomore Service Leadership student

Patrick Holbrook,  sophomore at the Chaifetz School of Business and member of the Service Leadership Program, spent the summer of 2019 volunteering at a local hospital near his hometown to help young patients experience life as a kids. Photo by Kelly Siempelkamp

Holbrook's biggest takeaway from volunteering at the hospital was the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and remembering there is a lot to be grateful for, no matter the circumstances.

"One moment that stood out was when I was helping a patient that had been in the hospital for over a week. He hadn't been able to leave his room the entire time, so I brought him to the rooftop patio and played basketball with him," Holbrook said. "Immediately, his mood, attitude and entire disposition drastically improved, and I could see the meaningful impact I had on his well being as a whole."

Members of the Service Leadership Program at SLU's Chaifetz School of Business are passionate about serving others in their communities. His experience with the program has allowed Holbrook to grow as a leader and develop new skills he can use in future service activities, work and his personal life.

"With every interaction I had at the hospital, I was inadvertently practicing my communication and empathy skills," Holbrook said. "By being able to better interpret what one person is saying and feeling, I am able to connect with people on a deeper level."

By bridging the gap between people with different backgrounds, Holbrook empathized with young patients and created a more comforting space.

"I learned that someone's life could be very different in many ways than mine, but there is always something we can connect on, such as our love for the Chicago Cubs."

Through participating in the Service Leadership Program, Holbrook has learned the importance of putting himself in other people's shoes to better understand each individual's unique perspectives.

"I have learned through the Service Leadership Program that it is important to take into consideration that not everyone's circumstances are the same, and with knowing this, I was able to interact with people more smoothly and on a deeper level," Holbrook said.

The Chaifetz School's Service Leadership Program provides students with opportunities to serve their brothers and sisters to make a lasting difference within St. Louis and other communities, while developing skills they can employ in different setting through academic coursework, professional development workshops and service opportunities.

"These new skills will allow me to find new and innovative solutions to problems in the future," Holbrook said. "Through service leadership, I am able to achieve the personal development that is the most important part of higher education."