Shawdae – Inspired to Serve – My VM Story

Shawdae never thought she would be in this position, but her experiences growing up ignited a desire to serve individuals whom she felt needed it the most; children. “Since, I was about 8 years old, I grew up with one goal in mind; be a doctor. As a child, I was plagued with childhood asthma and I’d get so ill that I would end up in the emergency room.” Shawdae recalls a spark of inspiration, looking up to the doctors and nurses, and feeling the need to take care of those around her. “I used to dress my teddy bears’ wounds and apply bandages when he had a ‘boo-boo’.”

“I didn’t have to be a doctor to help people who it.”

“My altruistic nature continued all my life, but as I got older I started to realize that I didn’t have to be a doctor to help the people who needed it. By the time I was in high school, I knew that my true calling was to give back to the communities I grew up in and help open doors for young girls. I went on to college and remember reading that several communities near my University suffered from below average test scores and low student recidivism. I knew needed to help so I joined a mentoring program on campus that would allow me to directly impact the communities.”

“They were like me.”

“The BLAST (Bringing Ladies and Science Together) program was a truly transformative mentoring experience where we taught girls the importance of excelling in math and science. We showed them to envision their futures as scientists and programmers and how that could improve chances of getting into college and achieving their dreams.” Shawdae could see herself when she met the girls in the program. “They were like me; they needed someone to engage and encourage them to take the next steps to reach their goals!”

“Although the odds are stacked against you, you deserve opportunity.”

“I still get Facebook updates for some of the girls from the program who are now going off to high school. I see their progress and how 5 hours of mentorship and support every week helped to change their trajectory. Those girls are the reason I applied for Volunteer Maryland. They inspired me to take on this challenge, serving as an AmeriCorps Member; further inspiring my passion to keep having these experiences! I want to teach children in Baltimore that although you may have been born into an environment with the odds stacked against you, you deserve the opportunity to thrive, to grow, and to dream! And more importantly give back to your community by instilling this belief in others.”

Shawdae hopes her service year is filled with new opportunities to educate and inspire. “I want to give other volunteers the tools they need to engage and galvanize Baltimore youth to reach their full potential.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at UMB CURE Scholars Program please reach out to Shawdae and visit and/or like them on Facebook at 


Shawdae Harrison
UMB Cure Scholars Program


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