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Anna's Journey as a Racing Readers' Program & Volunteer Supervisor
Hello Reader! My name is Anna Markovic, I am a 4th year Psychology Major who is also completing a minor in counselling and human development, as well as a Hellenic Studies Certificate. I always wanted to help people, but I never knew how I would accomplish this because typically, a helper is associated with a doctor or lawyer, and these were two careers I was not interested in.
A little about me, I love the outdoors! I love to paddle board, ski, and rock climb! I am very adventurous and love to explore new places, and sometimes climb the rocks at those places!
I also love art, any form of it really whether it be looking at / reading / or engaging with others’ art pieces or curating my own through activities like drawing, painting, and taking photos. In high school I was not like this. I was timid, shy and unsure about myself. My initial goal was to enter architecture or engineering because my parents' chose those career paths. However, later I realized that they will not be for me. In all honesty, I do not know how I chose counselling, but I likely initially chose psychology / to become a psychologist or social worker because at the time I was volunteering as a peer mentor in an afterschool program with Big Brothers and Sisters of Greater Vancouver. My coordinator was doing her Masters in social work, and the way she was helping people was inspiring. From then on, I shaped my high school classes to becoming a counselor, and set off into university. However, in my second semester when COVID was not a thing, there was a Grad School fair, and I thought it would be helpful for me to research and get some ideas about counselling schools. There was when I found that I could do Art Therapy as a Graduate Degree. Now I had always loved art however, I never took it seriously as a career. When I found out that I could combine helping people and art, it was like I found my purpose. From then on, I was given more of a lead role in Big Brothers and aided in developing creative curriculum. I found much enjoyment and continued to accomplish this until I found Racing Readers today!
This was my first semester with SFU Surrey - TD Community Engagement Centre! I found the job posting at the start of December 2021 and thought I would take a chance! I had done a summer camp, but then felt this hole in my heart ever since the job ended. I came to realization that I really missed working with kids. But with a full school schedule, it can be difficult to balance work and school. However, Racing Readers provided me with flexible hours and an amazing team and that made me very excited. When I got the job, I was super estatic! I'm also happy to share that I will be continuing on in the same role for this summer iteration!
Being a part of Racing Readers has supported my goals as they have offered me the opportunity to explore and develop my experience with creating the curriculum development. This was a huge learning curve for me because the act of balancing curriculum development, answering emails, and supporting volunteers was a new experience for me. Further, making a curriculum for students regarding reading support was something I had also had never done before. However, with the support of the team, I was able to learn so much. Racing Readers further gave me the opportunity to boost my confidence in working with kids. I have had a lot of experience with kids, but I still get shy sometimes! RR has given me the opportunity to develop my confidence within this leadership role, which overall has increased my enjoyment in working with kids as well as my overall personal confidence! The most valuable thing RR provided me with was the connections with the students. They are all so creative, funny, and energetic and they motivate me to continue working within my field in supporting people. I will forever be thankful for this opportunity, and I cannot wait to grow more with the program. Through art therapy and counselling and working in schools, RR provides me a base in allowing me to develop skills to support students through creative outlets and fun activities. The skills I learned with RR will forever be with me and impact my future careers and how I approach education and inspiration.
Being a mentor has changed all my relationships. The reason I share that, when someone asks for help, I now understand how hard it can be to ask for help. I take this very seriously, and with the resources I have been provided with through various mentorship programs, I feel more confident and compassionate to be able to support in the different ways. Though as much as I would love to, I cannot help everyone. It's important to understand when a higher order of support is needed for someone. This is important because you are still helping the person, but by showing them where to get that support, you are supporting them more than you may know.
A thought that I'd like to share with my fellow peers:
I cannot stress how valuable volunteer experience are. It's not just for putting the experience down on your resume, but for your own personal development. SFU Surrey - TD CEC offers students a chance to test the waters and explore their abilities to support their confidence and professional development. There are many places you may volunteer, yet you may not feel the most supported in, or even developed because all you do is make coffee. Here, you are given a voice, an opinion, and supportive staff members who want to see you succeed! Even if you do not wish to work with kids in the future, the experience and confidence in managing a professional environment and meeting new people is extremely valuable. This experience will show when you meet more people within your future profession. SFU Surrey - TD CEC offers you a very supportive foundation for both their volunteers and workers. SFU students who are interesting in volunteer should look into SFU Surrey - TD CEC to find exciting volunteer opportunities!
And you're just in luck! Racing Readers is currently recruiting volunteers! If you want to join in as the Program Volunteer check it out here!