Jamila Dozier spent her K-12 education attending Catholic school in San Francisco, and when she began as a freshman at Sonoma State University she admits it was "a tough transition." From uniforms and classes on religion to the atmosphere of SSU, Dozier was able to find a common link between these two environments in the form of community service.
"Growing up in Catholic school it was always something that was part of the curriculum, just serving others," she said. She was involved in various volunteer projects in her youth, and although she participated in service, it was not until her freshman year at SSU that she really found a passion for it.
She got involved with "Study Buddies," a tutoring program of Join Us Making Progress (JUMP), Sonoma State's community service organization. Dozier spent four semesters with this program, tutoring children at Evergreen Elementary School.
At this time, Dozier was in the process of running for senator within Associated Students. She had everything filled out to apply, but ended up missing the deadline. "Its funny that I ended up missing the deadline for senator because I was volunteering. It was definitely a sign."
Dozier took the advice of former Community Service Coordinator, Jodi Roth, and applied to work for JUMP, and was hired on as the coordinator for service days position.
Her sophomore year, she signed up to become a Bonner Americorps Student, where she promised to complete 300 hours of community service in one year. This is a huge commitment for any college student; especially one balancing two jobs and a full course load like Dozier. However, her passion and commitment to service made her time with Bonner worthwhile.
One of her service commitments was at the Catholic Charities Family Support Center in Santa Rosa. There, she and other volunteers cooked, served, and often ate food with the residents. For a time she also volunteered with Kid Street, an afterschool program for at-risk youth.
One day when she was volunteering with program, she spotted two familiar faces in the dining room. "There were two little girls that went to Kid Street that were living there, so I sat down with their family, it was with their grandmother," she said. "I talked to them, and then their grandmother told me their entire story about how they ended up there..."
Beginning to establish a relationship with this family, she realized that they were only allowed to stay at the shelter for a certain amount of time, and that time was almost up.
"I wanted nothing more than to not see them in the dining room and they ended up being there the next week that I went," Dozier said. "I mean it was good that they still had a place to stay. That was really hard for me so I think that program just kind of challenged me in a lot of ways..." It was through that program that she decided to shift her focus to hunger and homelessness issues.
With graduation on the horizon, Dozier will be receiving her degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. She would like to work in non-profits, but her hope is to attend to graduate school for student affairs. "I want to work with college students because I know this is the time where people discover who they are," she said. "You learn what it means to be a person and to be a part of that journey, I think it would be super cool."
- Sarah Dowling