Indiana University East junior Rachel Burgess completed the American Red Cross Collegiate Leadership Program in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Burgess is a biochemistry major from Fairfield, Ohio. A member of the women’s soccer team at IU East, Burgess said she learned about the program through her coach, Shane Meridith.
According to the Red Cross, the program provides student-athletes with the opportunity to develop leadership skills and inspire a new generation of volunteers by organizing blood drives for their classmates and community. Burgess’ experience began with training, mentoring and networking during a two-week internship at Red Cross headquarters in Washington. The internship provides participating students a position on the team, and the chance to receive coaching from senior Red Cross leadership. The opportunity helps participants gain life-long skills that can have an impact on their campus as well as help build skills that can be useful in their future careers.
Burgess will now return to campus to encourage fellow students to join in the mission to help save lives through blood donation.
The program included training, mentoring and networking through the organization, Burgess said. She also received a $2,000 scholarship for participating in the program.
“The experience itself was a bit out of my comfort zone but it also showed me a lot of different perspectives and sides of the Red Cross as an organization,” Burgess said. “We met a lot of people who have been impacted by the Red Cross, hold a high position in the Red Cross, and have given countless hours of service through the organization. While I was there, my role was to absorb as much information as I could about the mission of the organization and how to bring it to life on campus.”
To do that, Burgess will host a blood drive on campus. The program provided the skills to organize a successful blood drive as well as to lead a team to host the event. She plans to host at least four blood drives over the next two years with a student-composed team which includes students from nursing and other majors. She is currently planning the first blood drive for November 7, 2019.
Burgess said she learned the significance of donating blood and the impact it has on those that need it.
“I have donated blood consistently since I was a junior in high school, but the demand for blood is at an all-time high,” Burgess said. “Someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds, and one person has the ability to save up to three lives. Being able to bring the mission of the Red Cross to my campus and do what I can to make it grow is an honor. I feel like there are so many people depending on me to make this big, and I don’t want to let them down. I’m excited to share the goal and get others involved in something as amazing as the Red Cross.”
According to the Red Cross, nearly 20 percent of the millions of blood donations made each year come from young donors, like college students. In only about an hour, volunteer blood donors can help make an impact on campus while helping save lives in the community and beyond.
In addition to organizing a blood drive on campus, Burgess said the program helped teach her how to be the best version of herself and how to be a leader.
“You’re a person before you’re a leader, therefore focusing on your character and your intentions in helping others should come first,” Burgess said. “This program gave me a lot of different perspectives on serving others. Being kind without an agenda and having the intention to help someone who may need it without the expectation of getting anything in return is a concept I hope to spread on campus.”
In the future, Burgess plans to continue her education in medical school with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
How to Donate Blood Through the American Red Cross
To make an appointment or to learn more, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Completion of a RapidPass® online health history questionnaire is encouraged to help speed up the donation process. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.