by Steve Vodhanel
First-year pharmacy student Vanessa Ardon has been chosen as a participant for the Amazon River mission trip with the Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) March 18 – 27, 2011 based on an essay describing why service is personally important. Initiated in 2010 and open to all Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), the essay competition offers a chance to serve with SIMS on a mission trip to the Brazilian Amazon region.
According to ALAS president Atilio Palma, Vanessa’s essay was chosen for two reasons: it was judged to best answer the question why service is important, and because of her prior dedication to service. "ALAS is pleased and honored to have someone like Vanessa represent the club as her passion for mission service was readily apparent in the essay, but her prior community service is simply outstanding," states Atilio. ALAS will be providing the funds for the trip which will be in the excess of $2,100.
Vanessa’s essay is based on a biblical life lesson by Luke 12:48: “For whomsoever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.” To quote Vanessa from the essay, “This wonderful message has been the motivating force behind my desire to use my talents and abilities to serve others.” Vanessa’s essay detailed events from a prior community service remodeling project for the Centro Campesino Farmworker Center building in Florida. It was here that a young girl embraced Vanessa stating that she was grateful to have such a beautiful place to learn to read and that she could go home and teach her mom and dad to read as well. This moment of gratitude left Vanessa with the realization that “…service is not only found in the immediate time frame of the work, but it extends out through time and people like ripples of water.”
The entire School of Pharmacy is proud of Vanessa Ardon and her commitment to service.