Passionate About Service

Through the Office of Service-Learning, global service students cross boarders and oceans to serve around the world. One of the service locations is in the community of Cape Coast, Ghana. To this West Africa town, students bring their knowledge, passion for service and hard work to organizations like Aboom School for Special Needs Children, Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind, and the Progressive Excellence Youth Organization (PEYORG).

Lorena Fernandez “fell in love” with Ghana and its people.

MU junior psychology and art major Lorena Fernandez came to Mizzou to experience the Office of Service-Learning and its global programs.

“When I first came to Mizzou, it felt like home,” Fernandez says. “Plus, I heard about the Office of Service-Learning and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Fernandez’s passion for service work began at a young age. At the age of nine, she was working with Misericordia Home Heart of Mercy, which is a home for those with mental and physical disabilities in Chicago. From there, her passion for volunteering grew.

“I used to tell people that I wanted to be a professional volunteer,” Fernandez says. “I always feel so energized after I do service work.”

To take her work to the next level, Fernandez decided to apply for a global service trip.

“I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point,” she says. “I saw (global service) combined study abroad and service. I knew it would be the perfect fit.”

Last summer, Fernandez and MU assistant teaching professor LuAnne Roth took part in a global service trip with the Office of Service-Learning. The two quickly embraced the Ghanaian culture.

“They call it Africa 101,” Roth says. “Ghanaians speak English, take pride in their peaceful democracy and rich culture, and are just so welcoming.”

During the time in Ghana, Fernandez worked with PEYORG. The organization focuses on two main projects throughout the year: working with students to discuss sexual health and personal hygiene, and working with women with newborn babies. Fernandez worked on both projects with her favorite memories coming when working with the babies.

“We would go on weighing sessions with a group of nurses and the babies would either be really happy or not having it at all,” Fernandez says. “It was wonderful to be interactive with the mothers and the babies.”

Fernandez’s feelings towards the beautiful country was clear.

“She obviously fell in love with Ghana and Ghana fell in love with her,” Roth says.

Fernandez wants to go back and, in fact, is considering a winter global service trip to Ghana.

“Global service was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she says. “I would go back in a heartbeat.”