From Prescott Russell to Cuzco, or following your passion, one volunteer placement at a time

Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Karianne Dion, of St. Albert, Ontario, started her honours in psychology at the University of Ottawa in September 2015.  Like all Ontario students, Dion completed 40 hours of volunteer work in high school.  But she only really got into volunteering after her first year of university, having understood what it could mean to her personal and career development.

Karianne qui peint les ongles de quelqu’un lors de son placement bénévolat avec le « Alzheimer Society » | Karianne painting someone’s nails during her volunteer placement with the Alzheimer Society

Karianne during her volunteer placement with the Alzheimer Society

Dion wishes to pursue graduate studies and become a clinical psychologist. In summer 2016, she took on various extracurricular volunteer placements, one with youth at the Valoris agency and another with seniors at the Alzheimer Society of Cornwall & District.  Her involvement with seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease left a strong impression on her, including memories of the small daily moments of celebration of those who live in fear of no longer remembering.

In addition to her full-time studies and volunteer placements, Dion works part time. For winter 2017, she chose to volunteer with the Psychology Students Association, and is currently completing a community service learning placement with Valoris, as part of her child development course (PSY 2505).

In addition to psychology, Dion is a travel enthusiast. This summer, she’s going to several European countries, including Spain, where she’ll polish up on her Spanish.    In summer 2018, she will do a three-month community service project in Cuzco, Peru. After doing her research and getting friends’ recommendations, Dion chose to go with International Volunteer HQ. Through the group, she’ll volunteer for a service project in a home for children living with physical and mental disabilities, providing basic care, including feeding and dressing them and organizing games and other activities.  She hopes to help many families while deepening her knowledge of her field of study. Dion received a Latin American Community Service Scholarship, which will help cover the costs of her trip.  She plans to prepare for her trip through the centre’s online training for volunteering abroad.  

For students who haven’t yet volunteered or are wondering about it, Dion says, “Go for it! Start with a placement that only requires a few hours. You’ll see where it takes you!” Her own placements have enabled her to build a network for herself and figure out her career goals in psychology.

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