Vision and passion. Two of the motivating factors that help make Stephanie Buco, one of the Directors of the Student Volunteer Council (SVC), a great servant leader.
To understand how it all began, Stephanie took me back to how she began her journey. It all started her freshman year. Coming into Rutgers at the time, she decided to become involved in SVC after her Orientation Leader (nicknamed Bubbles) told her about the organization. It was funny because Stephanie had never even heard of SVC…little did she know she would end becoming a Director! Back then, SVC had a different structure than what it had now, but it has still kept its vision. The vision still remains to provide community service opportunities to students of Rutgers University.
Back in the earlier years of the organization, there was a position of the Council Administrator that was similar to a secretary position that also dealt with logistics. It was the first position she held that started to ignite her passion for the organization and its mission. Despite the fact that she actually didn’t even believe she would get the position in the first,her confidence would eventually being to grow from there on out.
Fast forwarding to sophomore year, Stephanie again applied for the same position to return to SVC. However, the organization was in a very delicate place. Most of the senior core members had left, and it became very difficult to keep the current members invested. She explained how the board began to lose its cohesion. Expressing her view on how important cohesion between every member on the board is, I began to see why she had the belief. As the organization began to take an unfortunate decline in the spring semester, it also served as a call to action for Stephanie. All the pieces for building a better future for the organization were there. Stephanie and other members of SVC at the time such as Henah and Wilfredo were extremely passionate about the organization, but they had no guidance. Seeing the organization become delicate and unstable, it inspired them to rise up as leaders and take charge in reforming it.
In the summer of her sophomore year, Stephanie became one of the Directors of SVC. Even though she held such an important leadership position and only being a sophomore, I could tell by her passion and devotion that she did not falter in her responsibilities. I personally don’t see many leaders that understand the exactly the reason why in what they actually do. After learning about Simon Sinek and the concept of “why”, it helped me understand what motivates Stephanie through a different lens.
The ultimate vision Stephanie had for the organization was actually broken up into two goals. These two goals were about the internal structure, and then the external reach the organization would had. I delved deeper into the structure of SVC to get a better idea of how she would accomplish those two goals. The structure of SVC is actually very unique. It’s structure is actually one that I have not seen before, and they also pride themselves on that uniqueness. SVC does not have a system of general members. When I asked her why, she also told me that they have actually put a lot of thought into it, but it actually fits into her and the organizations philosophy. By not having a general member process, it insinuates that every student on campus already is a general member. They do not wish to make the organization exclusive. It helps accommodate students who want to be involved in different ways with different amounts of investment. For example, students can sign up for their Scarlet Day of Service. Even though it is only for one day, SVC gave students the resources to help give back to their community. Their structure of having only stable executive board members help add to their success. There is actually no hierarchy, even the Co-directors have no more of an importance than the than the other board members. I feel that this makes SVC stand out because it goes against the status quo that so many organizations on campus follow. Every members’ voice is valued and is greatly appreciated in the decision making process. Personally I have encountered organizations that work with a hierarchical structure, and it loses that aspect of valuing everyone’s voice as being equal.
Externally, the goal has reached its goal with such great success, and it still continues to grow. SVC, whether it sees it or not, is actually an empowerment organization. As opposed to taking on service initiatives by themselves on as a board, they empower other students to take on community service initiatives. SVC provides the resources to help students accomplish that. That is what draws me into being involved into the organization. Their vision is not for the organization to accomplish these goals. but to also help empower the individual student to come on board with other students and help make a difference. One of the best examples of this is the Scarlet Day of Service, where over 300 students devoted a day of service towards their community.
Moving forward and as Stephanie moves into her senior, and final year in SVC, she showed me with full confidence that she is extremely happy with where the organization is at. SVC has continuously been able to reach so many of their goals. In her 2 years in the organization so far, and six years since it’s creation, SVC has become household name within Rutgers. This was one of Stephanie’s ultimate goal, to make student aware of the organization to help them be able to give them back to their community. Despite it being her last year, she has full faith in her amazing board (which I had to honor of attending their meeting) and their devotion to help provide service opportunities to students on campus. She still has this whole year to work on still leaving her mark, but she has definitely made an impact on campus already.
Leaving the interview, I actually had a lot to reflect on. There only a few amount leaders that I meet that actually inspire one to grow and do all that they can to not only help others, but those they work with. Seeing the vision and purpose SVC has, and seeing the leadership that they are under inspires me to become leaders just like them. The board has diverse members that are bound by the same goal. I know that Stephanie is a position where she is honored to have been a part of the incredible growth SVC, and to quote her it has become her baby that she is extremely proud of. I look forward to seeing where this year will head and what new accomplishments SVC will achieve!