by Jason Quigley
One of my favorite parts of working with the Luckyday Scholars Program is to see students learn, grow and overcome challenges during their time at Southern Miss. It is a privilege to be part of the journey of Luckyday Scholars as they persist from freshman year to graduation. We have invited Amanda Moss to tell her Luckyday story which is one of discovery, persistence and service to others. Amanda was able to find her career path through her service as a Luckyday Scholar and provides some sound advice to current Luckyday Scholars. Thank you Amanda for sharing your Luckyday story.
by Amanda Moss
As a high-school student, I was an athlete. I made average grades, but I was never a straight-A student. I could study for days and still make a “C” on a test. Because of this, I fully expected to go to college on some type of sports scholarship. I always knew there was no way I would ever earn an academic scholarship to college. Luckily, life had other plans for me.
Back in 2014-2015, I decided to apply for the Luckyday Scholarship. I knew it was a long shot given my average grades and my 22 ACT score, but I decided to try. I knew the one thing I did have in my favor was the piles and piles of volunteer work I did through the years. A couple weeks later, my life changed when I was accepted into the Luckyday Scholars Program.
I have always enjoyed doing volunteer work, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year as a Luckyday student that I found my niche. I struggled finding a place to volunteer, because I didn’t really know what kind of organization I wanted to work with. I wanted to find an organization that worked with a cause close to my heart, which is how I found the Eagles Nest. The majority of my volunteer hours required for the Luckyday Program came from the Eagles Nest Food Pantry.
The Eagles Nest opened my sophomore year, in the fall of 2016. If you aren’t familiar with the Eagles Nest, it is located in the basement of Seymours. The Eagles Nest runs on donations and is a place where students, faculty, and staff can get food items, hygiene items, and other items at no cost. The Eagles Nest seeks to ensure that no student or staff member goes hungry because of financial challenges. Food insecurity and financial challenges were two things I struggled with in college. In addition to class loads, volunteer work, a part-time job, and struggling with mental health issues, I was also a wife and soon-to-be mother. Trying to support a family on my husband’s full-time job while in college was tough. There were weeks where we didn’t know if we would have enough money for groceries. Volunteering with the Eagles Nest allowed me to realize that there were others struggling the same as me, and I was also able to receive groceries to help feed my family. The best part about volunteering with the Eagles Nest was helping others. I loved being able to help normalize food insecurity, and teach people that they don’t have to be ashamed of seeking help.
If it weren’t for the Luckyday Program, I would have never ended up at the Eagles Nest. The Eagles Nest allowed me to realize my true life-calling, which is working in the nonprofit world. The year I started volunteering with the Eagles Nest is the same year I added a nonprofit minor to my degree plan. I knew from that moment forward that I wanted to spend my life helping others.
Now, almost five years later, I am an Alumna of USM and the Luckyday Scholars Program. I work at a nonprofit called United Way of the Pine Belt Region. Within United Way, I run a program called First Call for Help, and I spend my days helping others. The program I run assists people with utility bills and refers people to churches or other organizations based on their needs, because each organization and church helps people in different ways. My organization, United Way of the Pine Belt Region, partners with over 20 organizations and nonprofits. United Way of the Pine Belt Region raises funds for those partners and distributes the funds to our partners accordingly. Our main goal is to make sure those organizations and nonprofits are running smoothly, and to focus on raising money to support them. I love my job and the people I work with. I am so blessed to work in a field that focuses on helping others.
I would give a few pieces of advice to all current Luckyday students.
- Let the Luckyday staff help you if you need it. Right now, college seems completely overwhelming and some things may even seem unnecessary. You might feel lost, or like you want to give up. Trust me, I’ve been there. But PLEASE remember that the Luckyday staff are here for you, and you can talk to them about anything. Luckyday is so unique, because the staff members believe your health is just as important as your education. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or like you aren’t going to make it through the semester, just go talk to the staff. Let them help you. They care about you.
- Find something you are passionate about, and make a career out of it. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. I wanted to make a career out of helping others, and now I am doing it.
- And for all you senior Luckyday students, when you are job hunting after graduation, be patient. If you don’t land a job you really wanted, don’t stress. A better job will come along.