Mid sets course for less fortunate Her Naval Academy group tutors, holds food drives

January 02, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

During her sophomore year at the Naval Academy, Midshipman Jennifer Campbell made time to work with dozens of children who were participating in the academy's Special Olympics.

"I really enjoyed it," said the 21-year-old senior from San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

"It gave me a really good feeling to help people, and I knew then that and I wanted to be more involved."

Two years later, the political science major was named president of the Midshipman Action Group, classmates who volunteer their time to help in the community.

The group, comprising about half the 4,000 midshipmen, tutors schoolchildren, works in hospitals, sponsors food drives, works on environmental projects and donates Christmas presents to needy children.

The group's Christmas project -- a 7-foot Christmas tree decorated with paper angels that had children's names written on them -- resulted in 800 presents that were distributed to children throughout Anne Arundel County.

"I really like working with people," Midshipman Campbell said, adding that she especially seeing their smiles.

Although as president of the group her job is mostly administrative, she has worked on a North Arundel Hospital program called Partners in Care that sent midshipmen to the homes of elderly county residents who lived alone.

The midshipmen raked leaves, cleaned house and took care of other chores that the residents could not handle themselves.

"All of them were so glad to see us," she said. "They don't always have families to help them."

Her most memorable moment with the group was last year when an elementary school student thanked her for reading stories to his class during its visit to the academy.

"This cute little boy came up to me and handed me a dollar. He said that was my tip for doing such a good job reading the story to him," she said.

Midshipman Campbell says she has gained valuable leadership skills that have helped her delegate the workload and get things done faster.

She came to the academy with some experience in volunteering with the Girl Scouts in her hometown.

An aspiring pilot, she said she chose the academy because she wanted to be challenged. Academically, she is in the top half of her class, a squad leader and twice has been named an all-American in pistol shooting.

"Her ability to work with people and her genuine concern for what the Midshipman Action Group does is what makes her a good president," said Lt. Chris Carlson, the group's officer representative.

"One of the toughest things for a midshipman to do is lead their peers, and she does that very well," he said.

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