201707-10-44 - Columbia VA Health Care System
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Columbia VA Health Care System



July 14, 2017

13-year-old spends his summer volunteering for Veterans

Story and photos by Jessica Bailey, Dorn VAMC Student Volunteer (E.L. Wright Middle School student)

Thirteen-year-old Steve Robinson is what people call a model citizen. With good grades in an all honors magnet program at Dent Middle School and a master on both the piano and violin, Robinson spends this summer helping Veterans at the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center.

He said the reason he entered the Summer Student Volunteer program was because he wanted to experience work in the medical field, but this was also a great opportunity to give back to the community and our Veterans who fought for our country.

Born in Indore, India, Robinson and his parents moved to the United States one year after he was born. He has always been appreciative the sacrifices his parents made to come to America for a better future for him. After asking him if he appreciated his family’s decision to move to the United States he responded “Yes! Because there is better education here and you can do much more with my life” he said in an assuring tone.

Robinson thinks very highly of his parents as he describes them as “hard working” and “determined” – as his mother works and studies at the same time, working to become a nurse practitioner. His father is currently working in a water plant that consumes time both day and night. He also has an eight-year-old little brother named Joseph. Joseph pushes Robinson even farther as he looks up to his big brother.

Surrounding himself with successful, kind, hard-working people such as his parents, his brother, and friends from church, Robinson has been able to absorb the community’s warmth, support and the work ethic as he shows when serving the Veterans this summer. Robinson claims that one of his role model is 25-year-old, Josey Abraham, who is a registered nurse. He is scheduled to be a speaker at the August 3 Summer Student Volunteer’s Graduation.

Robinson stated “he is kind, and determined, and Josey sometimes isn’t able to come to the church service because he was study so hard.”

Robinson goes on to say that he hopes to have the determination that he has witnessed from the people that love him the most. He also said that the church he goes to is filled with hard-working people who he has seen help support both his mother and Josey Abraham.

At school, Robinson takes his determined mind set and hard work ethic where he attends an elite magnet program at Dent Middle School. TLC, or The Learning Collaborative, is a rigorous learning program for the academically talented. TLC emphases a higher order of thinking while motivating the student toward a goal-oriented future.

Robinson says that TLC has helped him with his teamwork and social skills. He goes on to say, “TLC has helped with my collaboration skills, as well as preparing me for high school and college and further studies.” Robinson said “The teachers taught us a better way of studying and different techniques, as well as good studying habits to follow.”

Robinson uses those studying habits to get good grades all across the board as he has been on the Merit Honor Roll for both years of his middle school career.

Robinson was first told about the Summer Student Volunteer Program at the Dorn VAMC from his friend, and a fellow volunteer at the VA, Steven Kuriakosi. When First hearing about the volunteering program, he questioned whether or not he was old enough to be in the program. He went on to say he thought that volunteering was going to be hard, and that he would be transporting patients in wheel chairs, but it would help him if and when he pursued a career in the medical field. “My assumptions were right about the medical field, but I was wrong about the what the job was about,” he added. “There are many more jobs for volunteers.”.

While filling out the his resumé, he thought about what kind of job he would want if select. He claimed that after finding out more information from another church member who also went through the program, he found out that most of the positions for volunteers at the VA have to do with phones and computers, and wanted to take a position where he would use a computer daily.

After that, Robinson was select to be a student volunteer at the Dorn VAMC. Then on June 7, Robinson entered the Dorn VAMC with high hopes for the summer. After settling down in to his seat, Robinson looked over his folder and found that his department only had himself as a volunteer at the Welcome Center. He claims “I thought I would be working in groups of five’s, four’s, and three’s, but instead, I found out most of the volunteers here are the only volunteer in their department. None the less, Robinson was more than satisfied when he found out what his main job was down at the Welcome Center.

At the Welcome Center Robinson makes and renews VA Identification card from veterans. His colleagues describe him as shy, but also a hard worker. He interacts with patients daily at the Welcome Center, and does it with ease. He is polite and courteous to the patients as he greets each Veteran with a smile.

After taking their identification photo, he informs the patient when, where, and how they will receive their VA ID card. After answering any of their question, he sends them off and brings in the next patient. On top of the work he does, making ID’s, he also helps his colleagues at the front desk of the Welcome Center. Robinson did admit that his jobs is sometimes challenging. He claims “It is hard to communicate with Veteran’s with hearing disabilities because I would have to speak louder, and I’m not used to doing that.” He went on to say that it has been an adjustment, and that he is hoping to improve his communication skills. Robinson is thankful for his job at the Welcome Center; enjoying both the company and the experience.

In the future, Robinson is hoping to explore a career in engineering and medicine as he chooses which to pursue in college. He said “I have a goal to become something that I want to do, that I enjoy doing, as well as fulfilling my life needs.” He explains that he is considering a career in the following:

- Civil Engineering or Engineering in Major Transportation

- Electrical Engineering

- Gastroenterology or Stomach Surgery/ Stomach Medicine

Earlier in the summer, because of the opportunities give to the students at the VA, Robinson was able to see a gastroenterology procedure, and said it was interesting to see the medicine in action and how at the same time the doctor was teaching his student the procedure. While looking for a career, Robinson is also look for high school magnet program so he can continue to be motivated towards college and his choice in a career. He hopes to further his knowledge of both the engineering and medicine fields with an internship he starting to search for.