Radical Recreation: Extreme volunteering

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Eva Ulukivaiola volunteering at the USUAA Thanksgiving Feast. When Ulukivaiola was a senator in USUAA Student Government, she accumulated 50 hours of community service planning events for students, including the homecoming dance and the Thanksgiving Feast. Photo credit: Eva Ulukivaiola

Hobbies come in all forms, shapes and sizes. What makes a radical recreation is the passion behind it. Eva Ulukivaiola, economics major, has a unique pastime that she has spent over 600 hours doing throughout her life. Many would be confused hearing that volunteering is a hobby, but Ulukivaiola loves spending her time helping others and considers it her favorite activity.

“I consider volunteering my hobby because I started at such a young age and just continued with it until it became my passion, and I just look forward to giving back at any chance I have,” Ulukivaiola said.

Ulukivaiola is 21 years old and began participating in volunteer work around the age of 7. It started when her parents took her to Spenard Recreation Center to help plant trees around the building, which led her to join the Educational Talent Search (ETS) nonprofit, that helps low-income and first generation college students attend school.

“When I was younger, my parents told me that others were not fortunate enough to have a warm home, food and clothes to wear. That really put things in perspective for me because I had everything I needed with my family,” Ulukivaiola said. “The reason why I still volunteer to this day because of the strong value my family has instilled in me about giving back and that makes me want to continue with being active in the community.”

Most of Ulukivaiola’s volunteer hours come from her time with ETS. Through ETS, she was able to have many opportunities to volunteer in the community for things like Thanksgiving Feast, Toys For Tots, Food Bank of Alaska and more.

“My senior year of high school I had counted over 400 hours of community service for my scholarship portfolio. Now, I am a senior in college and my total is about 605 hours,” Ulukivaiola said. “The majority of hours I have accumulated were generated when I was in a program called TRIO Educational Talent Search throughout my middle school and college career.”

Unfortunately, ETS closed the program last December, but now Ulukivaiola has been volunteering for a sister program to ETS called TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) that serves low-income and first-generation college student who need assistance with scholarships, finding internships and provide academic workshops.

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“SSS is the program that I have generated at least 50 hours volunteering with… At UAA, SSS is actually the last TRIO program left and I really am so thankful to have been in ETS and now SSS,” Ulukivaiola said.

Recently, Ulukivaiola joined a sorority to surround herself with others with the same interest.

“Last semester, I decided to join a sorority because I wanted to be around a positive group of ladies who loves giving back and who maintain high GPAs. Even though this is my second semester in Alpha Sigma Alpha, I have already accumulated over 55 hours through volunteering with Covenant House, Special Olympics and more,” Ulukivaiola said.

Ulukivaiola has also gained many hours through volunteer work when she was a senator in USUAA Student Government and accumulated 50 hours of community service planning events for students like the homecoming dance and the Thanksgiving feast.

“After I graduate with my B.A., I would like to return to UAA to pursue my masters in education,” Ulukivaiola said. “Before that happens, I plan on looking into an internship with the Anchorage School District, teaching either high school or middle school students.”

When Ulukivaiola is not volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, maintaining a high GPA and snowboarding, but volunteering is still her favorite hobby. Being passionate about volunteering is what makes Ulukivaiola’s hobby so unique from others.