Featured Image: Students visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center booth during the Community Engagement Fair on Oct. 10 at Dana Hills High School. Photo: Steven Georges/CUSD Insider
By Breeana Greenberg
Engage, a student-run organization that connects students across the Capistrano Unified School District with a milieu of volunteer opportunities, held its third engagement fair this month.
Since its founding in 2021, the group has continued to include more nonprofits and volunteer-based organizations to participate in each engagement fair—with the latest one on Oct. 10 bringing out 25 nonprofits for interested students to meet.
Sophie Anderson, a Dana Hills High School senior and founder of Engage, launched the organization with the aim of reconnecting students with volunteer opportunities after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted previous connections and mentorships.
Engage has been a great way for students to get more involved in their community, said Anusha Misra, a Dana Hills sophomore and one of Engage’s vice presidents.
“There’s a lot of kids who want to find opportunities, and they just don’t know how to, and Engage has been just super beneficial, and helping students make those connections and just get more involved,” Misra said.
While many colleges and on-campus honors organizations require students to reach a minimum number of volunteer hours, Anderson said the goal of Engage is not for students to “check the volunteerism box.”
“We’re hoping to inspire more authentic motivation by presenting this variety of organizations,” Anderson said. “We’re showing students that you don’t just have to do what your parents tell you; you can participate in your community in the way that you want to.”
Cricket Jamet, Engage’s parent adviser, added that when Anderson approached the Dana Hills PTSA leadership team, the Orange County Department of Education was promoting the state’s Seal of Civic Engagement program.
“That civic engagement is allowing people to find opportunities to pursue passions for students to experiment a little bit with, in an area that they might think they have some interest in, and then see where that goes and see if that develops,” Jamet said.
Though Anderson will be graduating this spring, she hopes to see the organization expand, “getting more students interested and potentially, later down the line, expanding to other school districts,” she said.
Misra and Apoorvi Singh, a Tesoro High School sophomore and co-vice president of Engage, will carry on Anderson’s legacy.
“Our hopes for the future (are) to find other people to help join our team and to expand the fair even more or to be even more successful to the point where everyone knows about it, everyone is able to find opportunities equally,” Singh said.
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org