Meet alumna Olivia Castellone, a volunteer of StudentsCare at the University of Miami from 2018 to 2021. She served as Treasurer and Creative Director on the E-Board for a little over a year. We had the opportunity to chat with her about her experience with StudentsCare and how it impacted her life.

When asked about why she decided to join StudentsCare, Olivia shared that joining a volunteer organization that she could see herself being involved with long-term was a priority for her. “When I heard about StudentsCare and their mission, the decision to apply as a volunteer was a no-brainer! It was a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others that would greatly benefit from StudentsCare’s objectives.”

Olivia shared many meaningful connections with her hospital buddy.  “My buddy and I had so many special moments that have become some of my favorite memories throughout my entire undergraduate experience. She is the superhero in my story. Every week, we would play Uno, and she won most of the time! However, the best moment during our time together was the time her condition improved enough that she was able to play a song on the piano that I taught her.”

Being a part of StudentsCare enhanced her college experience. The ability to disconnect from school on a weekly basis and reconnect with her passion for volunteering was a blessing. After visits, she would go home feeling grateful for the opportunity to entertain and support her buddy during their hospital stay. She also gave a shout out to the best Child Life Specialists, without whom none of it would have been possible.

When asked what being a part of StudentsCare’s Hospital Buddy Program taught her, Olivia shared that even on the weeks that she would volunteer with patients unfamiliar to her, she was able to get creative in her plans for the visit and try her best to make their experience individualized. Through this, she also learned how to adapt quickly and efficiently to the needs of her buddy. Through her E-Board position, she fostered her leadership and communication skills while working alongside her other executive board members. This highlighted the necessity of facilitating interpersonal relationships and teamwork in a professional setting.

Overall, Olivia gained so much perspective on the impact of prolonged hospital stays on pediatric patients and their families. The resilience and determination of the pediatric patients during the most challenging times of their lives was extremely moving. StudentsCare showed her the importance of empathy and compassion in healthcare, which is invaluable to her as a future healthcare provider.

Today, Olivia is finishing up her first year of PA school at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. She will be taking advanced didactic classes until she begins clinical rotations in August. We couldn’t be prouder of her dedication to StudentsCare and can’t wait to see all the amazing things she’ll accomplish in the future!