Junior math and adolescent education major Lwam Tecleab, in summing up her life philosophy, recalled a friend's tattoo: "Worse things have happened to better people," a phrase she plays back as a way of reminding herself to treat others as she would like to be treated.
That's probably why it is highly unlikely to walk down Main Street or through the Union with Tecleab without hearing her name shouted out, to which she always returns a warm hello and a big smile.
Tecleab, originally from West Irondequoit, devotes the majority of her free time to helping others. When she's not guiding prospective freshman and their parents around campus as a tour guide, Tecleab serves as co-coordinator for the Livingston County chapter of Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Her involvement in the organization began as something of an accident, according to Tecleab. When a friend dropped out and needed a replacement, Lwam stepped in as a caseworker her freshman year and has served as co-coordinator since fall 2007.
Being a part of the completely student-run operation means being responsible for approximately 25 area children entered in the program.
"It makes me feel like a grown-up," said Tecleab.
Lwam is also the thank you and recognition chair and secretary for Colleges Against Cancer, the group responsible for organizing Relay for Life. The organization was able to raise $73,000 last spring through donations for Relay for Life. This year, Lwam said she hopes to see more faculty and staff members involved in their effort to spread awareness about various forms of cancer.
Over Spring Break, Tecleab plans on going to Mississippi to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. According to her, it is important for people to understand that though this issue has faded out of the media spotlight, it has not been resolved. Volunteers and help are still needed.
This semester, Tecleab, along with many students in the School of Education, is collaborating with professor Jane Morse in a study called Keeping Kids in School, which follows a group of students throughout their high school careers and attempts to identify certain factors that contribute to their educational success.
"You always hear about that one truly passionate professor who makes you get passionate about issues," said Tecleab. "Professor Morse was the first professor I ever felt that way about."
When Tecleab gets a spare moment between her various commitments, she does what any other student would. "I like to spend quality time with friends," she said.