Please write a concise narrative in which you describe a meaningful event, experience or accomplishment in your life and how it will affect your college experience or your contribution to the UF campus community. You may want to reflect on your ideas about student responsibility, academic integrity, campus citizenship or a call to service.
It's a busy Friday afternoon in Terminal 3; passengers are scurrying in all directions. I am putting out new brochures, when a frantic looking passenger approaches me. I put on a smile, "good afternoon sir, how may I help you?" He tells me that his inbound flight was delayed forty minutes, which now gives him only twenty minutes to get to Gate C in Terminal 1 in order to catch his next flight. It is his first time at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), he has no idea where Terminal 1 is, much less how to get there, he's frustrated, he's hungry, and he's looking to me with for help. The pressure is on.
This summer, I participated in a student internship at FLL, where I volunteered as an Airport Ambassador. I was required to quickly learn the entire airport - inside and out, as well as directions, phone numbers, names of hotels, prices, transportation and entertainment options. It was my job to be ready to answer questions and direct passengers with efficiency and ease. I always made sure every passenger left my desk knowing exactly where to go or what to do based on their situation.
Not every situation was as easy as "excuse me miss, where are the bathrooms located?". What do you do when a scared five year old boy, who only speaks Spanish, approaches you in tears, wanting to know where his mommy is; or when a man who only speaks Portuguese asks you how to get to South Beach; or when an angry couple with six suitcases comes to you wanting to know where their seventh one is? Problem solving skills, patience, and a positive attitude were most definitely needed on this job.
While volunteering, I learned more than I could have imagined, not just about the airport, but about people in general and even about myself. I encountered people from all over the world and while we may not have shared a common language, the need for help and my desire to assist, came together and suddenly, we were able to communicate. While everyone is different and would approach me with different attitudes, I discovered that if I am helpful in a friendly and knowledgeable way, people really are appreciative. Frustration can convert into satisfaction and anger can transform into gratitude. The part I loved the most was how rewarding it felt, knowing that I helped and perhaps made someone's day just a little bit easier. I also learned that I'm not as shy as I thought I would be; that I can be very outgoing.
The experience was very enlightening and fulfilling. I believe that as a student, I can draw from this experience every day. My contributions to the University of Florida will most certainly include a positive attitude, the desire to help others, and of course the drive for academic excellence.