One of the great things about Auburn University is the ability to find your niche. Don’t see an organization you’re interested in? Create one! That’s exactly what Auburn junior Jade Whitaker, a biomedical sciences major, did when she established Operation Smile Student Club on campus.
Whitaker’s inspiration came in 2013 during the Passion conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I was really confused about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to leave my mark in the world,” Whitaker said. “I knew I wanted my life to revolve around children, and I’d heard of Operation Smile before, so my friends helped me decide to marry the two together: Auburn and Operation Smile.”
Operation Smile is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to heal children's smiles by providing crucial facial surgeries, and to renew a sense of dignity in their lives. These individuals often have birth defects, such as cleft lips, and benefit from the organization’s help.
The mission of the student organization at Auburn is to host fundraisers and receive donations that go directly to the Operation Smile headquarters in order to provide the medical personnel and equipment to radically change children's lives and smiles. Their second focus is to raise awareness about this cause.
Whitaker’s inspiration comes from her mother.
“She encourages me to do my best, and even when I fall short she continuously encourages me,” Whitaker said. “Because of that, I want to excel in what I pursue to give her everything we both have dreamed of.”
“I didn’t find my fit immediately my freshman year,” Whitaker said. “It took time, trial, error and putting yourself out there. Bringing this organization to campus has been extremely rewarding, and I know we’re making a difference to affect the lives of these children.”
To get involved with the Operation Smile Student Club, contact Jade Whitaker at email@example.com
To get involved with the larger Operation Smile organization or donate, visit www.operationsmile.org
No matter who you are and what your passions are, Auburn University has a place for you.
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