Joanna Schneider '13
Student Director forBig Brother, Big Sister
Major: Sociology modified with Psychology; Minor in Chemistry
Other Campus Involvements: DOC; General Manager of Big Green Bus
Fun fact: She got involved in Big Brother, Big Sister in high school, over 7 years ago!
Home Town: Plainview, New York
Major: Neuroscience; Minor French
Tucker Program Spotlight: ASPIRE
History with Tucker: Current Student Director of The Tucker Foundation, and Founder of ASPIRE.
What Tucker Means to Me: "I love The Tucker Foundation because Tucker draws together a really unique and diverse group of students bound together by passion. Whether international, local, service, community building, social justice, spirituality, whatever that passion might be, you can really see what drives people outside of the classroom when you work here."
How did you become involved with Tucker?
I knew coming into my freshman year that I wanted to be involved with service. I went to the open house at Tucker during orientation, and then I went to the Volunteer Fair and signed up for just about every booth there was!
What inspired you to form ASPIRE?
Well, two weeks later I came to see one of the Tucker staff, and I asked why there was no program offered to help kids with autism. I didn’t realize how difficult it was to set up programs for autism at that point; because I had volunteered for an organization in High School dealing with autism and loved it, I assumed that such programs were everywhere.
There just weren’t many resources in the upper valley to start a program, and I asked the Tucker Staff member, “What can Tucker do about this?” She smiled and looked back at me and challenged me, “What are YOU going to do about it?” I took the challenge and with that, I researched everything I could about autism and support programs and activities. Once I gave all of that research to Tucker, we were able to work together to form ASPIRE. It’s just amazing that if you see a problem, and are passionate about it, Tucker can work with you to solve that problem.
How have you studies influenced your service?
Well, I’m majoring in Neuroscience and have studied French quite a bit, but you know, one of the most influential classes that I’ve taken here was a Medical Anthropology class—especially in the context of community service. The key is that Autism especially affects the entire family and community in many ways. Support from all angles is the focus of programs like ASPIRE with the goal of meeting all of the child’s needs as well as the families’.
What was it like building a program that had no prior resources?
Well, it was first incredible that these resources didn’t exist, and the first thing that I learned quickly was to not take such programs for granted. But what was actually nice about starting a program like this was that we could start from scratch. We didn’t have to come in and restructure a struggling system, which with some service projects is harder than addressing the actual problem.
What have been the best parts for you of giving back to the community?
I mean working directly with the kids and families. For sure, this program reaffirmed my love for the scientific aspects of what goes on with children with autism, but even more-so it reaffirmed my love of working with people. And even though at first the families were understandably skeptical, once we gained credibility, it was unbelievable to see first hand how grateful families were for the help that we were providing. An incredibly rewarding experience all around.
What would you say to a student who’s thinking about getting involved with Tucker?
Tucker was the organization that made me believe that this program was possible. They set me up with advisors, listened, offered support, and I just feel so lucky. Yes it was really wonderful to create a new opportunity based on the needs- but I certainly couldn’t have done that without the incredible backing and tradition of service here at Tucker. I knew then that this was a place that I wanted to get more involved with.
Tucker draws together a really unique and diverse group of students bound together by passion. International, local, service, social justice, spirituality, whatever what that passion might be, you can really see what drives people outside of the classroom.
Amanda '12 is the current Student Director of the Tucker Foundation.
Full Interview Conducted by Danny Freeman '13, Student Director of Communications
Last Updated: 10/16/12