Abigail Oakes is a busy college student with a drive and passion for community service. She is a resident assistant in the dorms at New College of Florida; team captain for New College’s Relay for Life Team; a writer for the campus newspaper; an amateur nature photographer; a third-year natural sciences major; an equestrian; and founder of nonprofit Circle K International at New College.
“Ever since I got involved in high school, I found that I wasn’t doing service just for hours,” Oakes says. “I was really enjoying myself, so I have been involved since.”
Her peers describe her as a leader, and Oakes attributes that to her involvement with community service.
Like most high school students in the U.S., Oakes was expected to complete community service hours before graduating. So, she joined the Key Club at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey.
“The organization itself became a significant part of my life,” Oakes says. “They have been supportive; in addition to community service, Kiwanis is dedicated to fostering leadership, friendships and professional development.”
Three years ago, in her first year at New College, Oakes was ready to get involved in the community. She joined smaller community service groups but saw there was a void and decided to organize Circle K International.
With the help of New College’s Coordinator for Community Outreach Konnie Kruczek and the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key, in fall 2012 Oakes chartered Circle K at New College. Circle K currently has 25 active members.
Circle K is a service branch of the Kiwanis Club and is geared toward college students. It completes the circle between Key Club in high schools and Kiwanis Club for adults. Students across the world participate in chapters at their own colleges. “There are a ton of other passionate service leaders at New College who want to know their community more than just by living and studying here,” says Oakes. “It’s an opportunity to be in the community.”
Circle K projects have included tutoring Booker High School students and helping Community Haven raise funds through a baseball program for children and adults with disabilities. Members also worked with the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key to raise money for scholarship funds and raise funds for maternal neonatal tetanus vaccinations in third-world countries.
Oakes volunteers about 200 hours a year.
“I can’t see myself at a point in my life without doing some sort of service, that is really where I see myself going,” she says.
Contact Yaryna Klimchak at [email protected].