Jamie Wendorf is a double major (literature, Spanish) with a sociology minor, originally from Brown City (in Michigan’s Thumb). In 2009-10, Jamie was a member of the prestigious Roberts Fellows. She also presented her honors thesis, and with the help of a Foundation grant, created “Living through Literacy,” an end-of-life program for patients to share their life narratives.
SV: What was the topic of your honors thesis?
Jamie: For my honors thesis, I looked at end-of-life narratives, particularly in terms of literary patterns and sociological perspectives. I chose this because it blended many of my passions: literature, sociology, and understanding life as we approach death. Though the thesis took an incredible amount of work, it was so rewarding; I was inspired by how others approached one of the most intimidating parts of life, and it helped shape what I want to do with my future.
SV: As a result of your research about end-of-life narratives, you created a volunteer organization. Tell us about the "Living through Literacy" program.
Jamie: Living Through Literacy gives Hospice patients a chance to create a record of their life stories to pass on to their loved ones. Volunteers can create scrapbooks, videos, short stories, and other types of narrative projects. I received an SVSU Foundation Resource Grant in Winter 2009 to start the program.
I started the program after I had volunteered with my first patient. I absolutely fell in love with working with Hospice patients - it's so inspiring to see how much life people have, even when approaching death. I wanted to try to give other volunteers the same experience I had. These end of life stories allows us [volunteers] to grow, while giving the patients and their loved ones a sense of permanence through their stories.
SV: You were a 2009-10 Roberts Fellow. How did this program benefit you?
Jamie: I've learned to take chances. There are so many opportunities out there for us, and before, I was too afraid to go after them. I was afraid that I would fail, or that I would not measure up. I do have potential and being afraid of things isn’t going to serve me in the long run. Being a Roberts Fellow gave me confidence. Taking a leap and going after one opportunity has given me the confidence to chase after others.
SV: The Roberts Fellows program concludes with a three-week trip to Asia. What did you gain from that experience?
Jamie: My perspective was certainly changed by my time in Asia. I realized how much more there is to the world - and I still have only seen a small part of it. The cultures there are so beautiful, with so much history. It opened up my eyes to other ways of thinking, and gave me a hunger to learn more about other cultures.
SV: Why would you recommend SVSU to another student?
Jamie: I would say that SVSU presents so many opportunities, more than I had ever thought possible. At a larger school, I don't know that I would have had some of the amazing experiences I've had here. From the chance to go to Asia, to start a volunteer program, to the general atmosphere of support, SVSU has given me the resources to mold me for whatever direction my life goes in.