Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – The Importance of Volunteering

Name: Ryan Guggenheim
From: St Paul, Minnesota
Grade: Tenth Grade
School: Mounds Park Academy
Votes: 0

My name is Ryan Guggenheim, and I am 16, a sophomore at Mounds Park High
School. Volunteerism has always been very important in my family, and
I wanted to find a way to contribute in a way that would be
meaningful to me. Since I am interested in being a doctor and have
been a volunteer counselor in training for several years, I decided I
wanted to find a way to volunteer to help children and to provide
some sort of medical help. I found 2 ways to volunteer, one as a
volunteer at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, and now as the Youth
Ambassador for The Peronia Dental Clinic in Guatemala.

I applied for a Summer 2015 internship at St. Paul Children’s
Hospital and earned a fulltime,
3 hour
shift. I have worked
continuously there for over
hours since June 2015, and will
keep volunteering there every week until I graduate. I play with
children who are patients when they are lonely and have no visitors,
I watch siblings while parents talk to their sick kids or doctors,
and hold babies so that visiting parents have time to shower or take
a break. Some of the kids are really sick, but knowing that I make
them happier or that I help their parents when we play, is very
satisfying. Sometimes knowing that a child is very sick and might
not fully recover, makes it challenging to be positive and cheerful
for them, but it also makes me even more aware of how even at my age,
volunteering is important.

I was recently able to find another way to combine my interest in a
medical career and helping children with health services. Over this
past Spring Break 2016, I volunteered at OpenWide Dental Clinic in
Guatemala. I worked
40 hours
there volunteering with both medical services and community
relations. I assisted dentists and oral surgeons with procedures for
adults and children by taking x-rays, extracting teeth, preparing
procedure trays, and teaching better oral hygiene, especially to the
children. It was especially sad and satisfying to see doctors change
kids’ lives by fixing their cleft palates; I want to make a
difference like that one day. I also participated in discussions
with the President of Guatemala and Mayor of the City of Peronia, in
the Municipality of Villa Nueva Guatemala, about the need for more
free health clinics. The Clinic Board voted me to be their first
Youth Ambassador. As Youth Ambassador I will continue volunteering
there every year, assisting the dentists and doctors. Also,
throughout the year, I will be helping the Board draw teens to
dentistry so they can provide the future, “next generation” of
free dental services, by speaking at events, writing articles and
other activities.

I hope my volunteer activities make a difference in children’s lives,
I know my activities now will make me a better person, a better
doctor one day, and someone who will always find a way to volunteer
in the future.

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