Amanda Wittebort ’13 finds the place where her love for children and community intersect
In the fall of 2009, Amanda Wittebort ’13 had one of those eye-opening experiences that can have the power to shape a person and the trajectory of his or her life. As part of her Rollins College Conference Course (RCC), the psychology major was participating in a 10-day Abaco Islands field study during which five days were spent at Every Child Counts (ECC) School. “We were creating lessons plans with the technology we had brought with us to the school,” says Wittebort of her first ever service trip. “I fell in love with the children. Seeing how much the founder and the teachers cared and how well it worked for these students, well, it was outstanding to me. I promised I would be back.”
It took her nearly 4 years to keep that promise, but this spring she returned to ECC once again, this time as part of an Alternative Spring Break immersion trip. “The students and the relationship that we were able to build were life-changing to me,” says Wittebort, who worked with an older class of additional needs students.
In between her two trips to Abaco, Wittebort, a psychology major, has satisfied her passion for service and working with children by time spent in the Rollins Child Development Center, where she has completed research projects, internships, and lab work. “I have always known that I have wanted to work with children,” says Wittebort, who also participated in a senior seminar centered around creating a Living Lab at the Orlando Science Center. “I’m so interested in the mind and the way that children develop. But I also feel this desire to serve the community.”
It was that desire that promoted Wittebort to pursue a year-long service position with City Year, which she’ll start in July. Based in Baton Rouge, Wittebort will be working as a teaching assistant and mentor. “City Year’s mission is to reduce the drop out rate in this country,” she says. “I will be working with targeted children who show indicators of being potential drop outs.” Having served as a peer mentor at Rollins, she’s excited about the prospect of supporting her students in getting back on track.
“I fell in love with service at Rollins,” says Wittebort, who served as JUMP’s youth and education impact chair followed by student coordinator for two years as well as headed up Halloween Howl, Holiday Fun Fest, and Spring Extravaganza.
“I’m so excited to have been able to bridge the two sides of my passions and have been able to focus on working with children who require more attention or have been dealt a tough hand in life. All the work I have done has pushed me out of my comfort zone but also given me the chance to get to know myself. It feels good to know that I have direction in what I am passionate in.”