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Advent Reflection: Giving and Service


As Saint Louis University embraces the holiday season, students, faculty and staff members were asked to share reflections on the season's big ideas - themes that warm their hearts, ideas that lead them to seek greater truths and moments that inspire them to nurture the light of good in themselves and others through winter's darkest days.

Vrushangi Shah

Vrushangi Shah is a senior in the College for Public Health and Social Justice. Photo by Amelia Flood

Vrushangi Shah, a senior studying health management and public health in the College for Public Health and Social Justice, spoke earlier this semester at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, DC about her experiences as a Hindu social justice advocate at a Catholic Jesuit university.

Shah is a recipient of the University's Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship and serves as president of SLU's Future Leaders of Health Management student organization, which she founded. She has served others on campus as a volunteer with the Student Success Center, and has given her time to help new Billikens settle into SLU life as a University 101 Peer Instructor.

As a part of this series, she shared her thoughts about giving herself in service to others.

Embracing the Need to Serve Others

This November I was invited to give a speech at the Ignatian Family Teach In for Social Justice as a network speaker. I spoke about my experiences of being a Hindu social justice advocate on a majority Catholic campus. I was able to connect ideals in Hinduism and commodities within the Jesuit faith. One of the ideas I left with the audience was “If you aren’t here to serve those who need serving, what is the point of your work?”

Service to others is such a crucial part of being in the world today. We watch the news and often see so much bad and we tend to let this negativity manifest, without acknowledging the good in the world. But there is good in the world and often times, it is seen through service.

We give ourselves up in the service of others to step outside of our own bubble and recognize the privileges we hold. These privileges can be used to amplify the voices of the marginalized.

There is Always Something to Give to Others

How can students give back? Often times, we hear the pain of students who are “broke” or “on a college budget” and this can be difficult when it comes to the idea of giving.

Students may feel as though they are not financially stable enough to provide monetary help to those in need. Although this feeling bring students down, there are solutions. We often joke about it but the reality of this hits hard. But there are ways around it.

We give ourselves up in the service of others to step outside of our own bubble and recognize the privileges we hold. These privileges can be used to amplify the voices of the marginalized."

Vrushangi Shah, senior

In my last four years, I have seen the power in the gift of giving someone your time. Time is valuable in many ways and students donating their time to volunteer at the various shelters, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, and schools can impact the patrons in such a positive way.

Our city is surrounded by organizations always looking volunteers. Giving your time can also be fulfilling. Personally, if I know I have given my time to another individual in need, I feel satisfied within.

Another outlet to give is donating your clothing or items that you no longer use. There are always people in need and your donation could greatly help people out! One warm sweater or a pair of gloves can send warmth to another individual.

Students have power in them, they should realize how powerful their actions are.

So I encourage all of you to give your time and your donations to those in need. Let's be people for and with others! Let’s be more human.

In a world where there seems to be more bad than good, let’s turn it around.

You have the power in you to put a smile on someone’s face and to put some clothes on another’s back so why not.

As the holidays come around let us serve others through our work and our actions. If anyone can do it, it would be a member of our Billiken family! So give back with love!

Newslink's Advent Reflection series will continue through the holiday season.