The Cougar Volunteer Spirit is Alive and Well in Charleston

This blog is a project by public relations students at the College of Charleston. Since its inception in 2004, the Cougar Volunteer Spirit has showcased dozens of students who give of their time, effort and hearts to helping those in need. They don't do it for recognition like this, but their stories need to be shared because of their admirable qualities of character and caring. "Be the change you want to see in the world," Mahatma Ghandi said. That's the Cougar Volunteer Spirit that roars through these pages. Click on the side photos to see the articles. See photos of the students who wrote the pieces at the end. Thanks!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ELISE LASKO-Global Brigades

Passionate Student Makes A Difference in Other Countries
By Jackie Greenberg
Elise with a young friend in Honduras

When I first met Elise Lasko I was impressed by her passion, and level of involvement in organizations at the college. She encouraged me to join Students in Free Enterprise SIFE when we were sophomores, and I have been a dedicated member since.

Elise has been involved on campus for the past four years. She stays busy but still makes time to go to the beach and hang out with her friends on the weekend. She is from Poland, Ohio, and has been vacationing to Charleston since she was a child.

Elise has made the most of her college career by being involved in many different organizations on campus. Through her involvement with on-campus organizations, she has volunteered many times to help others. She is well known in the business school for hard work and interaction with the faculty.


: Poland, Ohio
International Business and Spanish
Graduation: May 2011

Volunteer activities? current and past?
Current: SIFE, Cougar Microfinance Club, SAA Past: Technology for Africa, Memminger Elementary Lunch Buddy

What do you enjoy most about community service?
I really like working one on one with people who are benefiting from the service being provided. For me, the best way to learn is through helping others through service related projects. I also believe that everyone can mutually benefit from each other when working together.

Most memorable volunteer experience? Global Brigades Microfinance brigade in Hondoras and Technology for Africa in Cameroon. It's a tie. Based on my experience traveling to Cameroon two years ago and seeing what an impact seven other SIFE students and I had made by bringing technology and teaching about entrepreneurship, I was very inspired to continue doing projects focused on empowerment. By partnering with the Global Brigades, College of Charleston's Cougar Microfinance Club and Carnegie Mellon students formed our own microfinance brigade. For the week of spring break, we traveled to Honduras where we spent the week in the coffee growing community of El Zurzular, which the global brigades had recently opened a community bank called the Caja Rural. During that week we met with several families and learned about the ways in which they live, work, and save and spend money. By the end of our trip, we had implemented savings incentive programs, increased community membership in the Caja, and had empowered individuals to grow beyond their potential.

What are you most proud of contributing to your organizations? Seeing the contributions that my fellow team members and I made as freshmen and sophomores and seeing then grow to what they have become now. The Technology for Africa project in particular hasmade a huge impact since the planning in 2008. I am so proud to have been a part of the original group and watching how the Tech for Africa 2 team this year continued the legacy by returning to Cameroon this spring break, bringing smart boards, more lap tops, and further perpetuating the project. I never could have imagined as a freshman being able to make a difference abroad, and organizations like SIFE taught me how I can truly make a difference in the world.

Have you personally benefitted from volunteering? All of the organizations I have been a part of go far beyond simply volunteering in the community. Student groups such as SIFE, SAA, and the Cougar Microfinance Club require commitments that push its members beyond what is expected and allow them to truly make an impact on their surroundings. By being a part of these wonderful groups, I have expanded my network in Charleston and beyond, learned how to become a leader, and also discover my passion for sustainable development.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about volunteering? Do not just volunteer because it makes you feel good. Volunteer to help improve a cause or someone's life, and also try to learn from each of the experiences you have while doing this work.

How do you think your friends and family would describe you? They would describe me as really busy, determined, and passionate for the things I love. What are your plans for after graduation? I am currently interviewing for some positions abroad but cannot say my definite plans at this moment. Hint: I really want to work in a Spanish speaking country for a year with a sustainable development organization.

For more information about the Cougar Microfinance Club, please contact: President, Jon Ladner: Faculty advisor, Dr. Jocelyn Evans:

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