As we begin to welcome March, we can finally wave goodbye to the chilly, frozen winds of winter and welcome the warm sights and sounds of spring! As we bid winter farewell, there is a lesson that it leaves us as we embrace spring. With celebrations like the holidays, New Year’s resolutions, and Random Acts of Kindness Day, the winter season embodies the words of Gandalf: “I have found that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

Ariana Lukowiak has come to the same realization since participating in the StudentsCare Hospital Buddy Program at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. “StudentsCare has taught me that no act of kindness is too small to make a difference in someone’s life,” Ariana shared. However, Ariana was always drawn to spreading kindness in her community. “I was first drawn to StudentsCare because I volunteered with children throughout high school. I was looking for an even bigger way to serve that population during my undergraduate career,” Ariana said.

Ariana began her time as a StudentsCare Hospital Buddy in October 2017. Since then, she has become the chapter leader at Arizona State University and helped make the program a success for both student volunteers and patients. Ariana shared, “One of my favorite memories is intensely playing Mario Kart with a 4-year-old patient and being consoled by him when I lost time after time,” but her “favorite activity to do with patients is paint and/or color while talking about Disney movies.” These experiences have only made Ariana more passionate about helping children in long-term hospital care.

Currently in her senior year of college, Ariana is majoring in Speech and Hearing Science. Next year, she will be attending graduate school at Arizona State University to become a speech language pathologist. “Being a part of StudentsCare has opened my eyes to the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone to give back to the community. It has given me lifelong friendships and memories that I will cherish for a lifetime,” Ariana said. With her enthusiasm, kindness, and dedication, Ariana has been a light that helps to keep the darkness that patients face at bay.

Thank you, Ariana, for your dedication to StudentsCare. Without students like you, we would not be able to share the care!