Giving back is good, charity is great, and selflessness is even better. Children grow up with the concept that helping others is crucial. We’re reminded that by helping others, we are ultimately helping ourselves. As the years pass, life happens. Somewhere along the way, the “others” can accidentally be forgotten.
As the University of San Diego prepares to host the Ashoku U Exchange Thursday through Saturday, students, faculty and staff will face some challenging questions: What does it mean to be a changemaker? Where do I fit in all of this? Are there things I even want to change?
While the campus prepares to host awe-inspiring speakers, it’s important to remember the Changemakers who are already among us at USD.
Romyn Sabatchi, a senior, appears to be an average USD student. She walks to class each day, attends meetings on campus and lives in the residence halls. But when she serves as a student volunteer at the Ashoka U Exchange, it will be another notable activity on her already overflowing resume. She’s the immediate past president of USD’s Rotaract Club, a coordinator for Filipino Ugnayan Student Organization’s (FUSO) recent Ugnayan Conference, is the Associated Students’ director of student organizations, and is a member of the AS Budget Committee.
“When I heard the word ‘Changemaker’ I recognized something in myself,” Sabatchi said. “It’s not something I would ever wholly categorize myself as, but it’s something I hope to be.”
Growing up in an underprivileged family, Sabatchi attended a public charter school. The goal of the school was to not only get the students through high school, but also into college. As a first-generation college student and proud SSS student, she’s accomplished her goal and much more.
Sabatchi’s love for service was a gradual process, she said, and it began in elementary school with the seemingly inconsequential act of volunteering for Safety Patrol. Her passion has only grown deeper.
“I love what I do. No matter how much it stresses me out — and it stresses me out a lot — helping people helps me know I’m doing things right.”
Asked how she takes care of herself while also taking care of others, she tries to explain that there are so many people who have it worse than she could ever imagine. When she said it, she stopped mid-sentence by the tears in her eyes.
Her passion is genuine and also intoxicating. Speaking with Sabatchi is inspiring, but before one hops on the next flight to a Third World country, she offers another piece of wisdom.
She said leaving the path of pre-medicine was a challenging time because it was full of uncertainty about the future and about the person she was. Sabatchi realized, ultimately, that she didn’t have to literally be a paramedic as portrayed in a Duracell commercial. She laughed as she explained how a battery ad offered a great lesson — each person helps in their own way. The person who makes the battery for a defibrillator enabled the paramedic to do his or her job; one could not happen without the other.
Sabatchi is a business administration major and sociology minor. She’s also in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences’ undergraduate Non-Profit Leadership and Management Certificate Program. As she prepares for graduation and the prospect of uncertainty, she goes forth with the hope of continuing to help others. Sabatchi said she aspires to work in the field of nonprofit organization event planning.
Many of us are not like Sabatchi, at least in the sense that our lives are not wholly dedicated to the easily forgotten “others,” but it’s important to remember what she’s learned: Each of us has a part to play in the making of the battery.
— Taylor Milam