Student Restores The Community: Michael Gonzalez

Taking the time to give back through community service

Features > Student Restores The Community: Michael Gonzalez
Student Restores The Community: Michael Gonzalez
Amanda Petty

Doing one or two community service trips here and there is manageable. It truly takes a special type of individual to be committed to the improvement of the community on a reoccurring basis. These individuals will have calendars full with nearly all volunteer opportunities.

One of those volunteering enthusiasts is freshman biology major Michael Gonzalez. There is a handful of various service trips made available to students, and more times than not Gonzalez is present.

When he is not entertaining his time with community service, his time is filled with being involved in the Kean University Rotaract Club, a Leadership Institute Bronze Leader and acts as the Director of Public Relations of the Biology Club.

Gonzalez shares what he thinks most volunteers gain from volunteering.

Community service is “a good way to use their free time and learn what it means to give back.”

The road of community service was paved when Gonzalez started volunteering in eighth grade. His first experience was with his dad working on political campaigns. It was this experience that led to his further involvement in the community.

“I became far more involved when I started high school and joined the Perth Amboy High School Navy Junior ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps],” he stated. “I did a wide array of services from beach and waterfront clean ups, fundraising, parades, etc.”

Yes, community service is deemed an important task to carry out, but for Gonzalez to stick to it diligently while his peers are off doing other activities is admirable.

“Over the years I grew accustomed to doing volunteer work regularly. I heard that Kean was good with doing community service; I signed up for everything pretty much,” Gonzalez said.

Michael volunteering at Habitat for Humanity 
The Cougar's Byte

With his commitment to the service projects, Gonzalez has attended most. Since he has experience in the various trips, he soon discovered which trips he preferred.

“When doing Habitat you slowly see your progress each time you go,” Gonzalez commented. “The Food Bank is fast paced but amazing because we start thinking and working together. We form an almost conveyer belt when packaging the food or anything at the food bank.”

It’s not only the community benefitting from time dedicated to service projects, but a volunteer has the opportunity to gain something as well. For Gonzalez, volunteering affected him socially.

“I became more outgoing and I connected more to the university. I made new friends and [found] something I can do in my spare time.”

Spring break is typically a week spent by lounging around, relaxing with family and friends. Gonzalez chose to instead keep his community service reputation going during this week off from college by going to the Atlantic City area through Alternative Spring Break.

Michael volunteering at Alternative Spring Break
The Cougar's Byte

Alternative Spring Break, hosted by Center for Leadership and Service, is an extended volunteer trip, spanning over the course of four days students participated in various projects, including prepping for foundation, installing sheet rock and painting.

“Because I was there at the Alternative Spring Break multiple days, I was able to see the results of my work accumulate more than an average Habitat [for Humanity],” Gonzalez stated. “It was great…we accomplished everything at the end.”

While Alternative Spring Break volunteers had an idea of what to expect, Gonzalez walked away with an unforeseen benefit.

“I went [with] my other Bio Club [executive board] members Jessica Granberg and Mariam Ishak. At the end of the trip I grew closer to them than I ever thought I would. I would definitely like to do Alternative Spring Break again.”

This Kean University student has only been a part of the Kean community for one year, but is proud of all accomplished in that short time.

“The transition [from] high school to college was challenging, however, rewarding,” Gonzalez stated. “I accomplished so much in my first year; I can't wait [for] what the future holds and what may happen next.”

Michael volunteering at Alternative Spring Break
The Cougar's Byte

about the author

Amanda Petty is double majoring in English-writing and communication studies while also pursuing a minor in marketing. Amanda has been a member of The Cougar's Byte, as an Editor and now Senior Editor, since Fall 2014. In her senior year at Kean University, she is excited to strive after a career in book publishing. The ultimate goal is to go into the editorial department, ideally working with young adult fiction.