Risk and Reward: A Local Student’s Perspective to Achieving Your Goals

An Eastern Regional senior reflects on his experience with the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey Teen Advisory Council.

By: Andy Kumar

Eastern Regional Student

Many of us have older brothers or sisters that are smarter, more athletic or even more accomplished. For me, this was my older brother. We are two years apart. I was 15. He was 17, and in our family, we were always competing to outshine one another. When I heard about the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey’s Teen Advisory Council (TAC), which brings together 50 dedicated high school students for a cause — reduce the stress and bring awareness to families who have critically ill children — I thought this would be a great opportunity to stand-out and create my own volunteer leadership path, so I applied.

I was extremely nervous because this was the first time I applied to be part of an outside organization, but I took a leap of faith, despite thinking that my accomplishments at the time weren’t good enough to make it. I was thrilled to find out a few short weeks later that I was invited in for an interview.

Interviewing was a whole new experience — something I’ve never done before. I knew that if I wanted to reach my goal and become a TAC member, I would have to prepare over the course of several weeks. I planned and practiced with my parents, guidance counselors and even my older brother. After what felt like the longest few weeks of my life, I had finally walked in the Ronald McDonald House for my interview.

I remember feeling like my competition was much more qualified, and after feeling like I had gotten beat at every question during the interview, I went home disappointed but proud of the effort I put in. Then, a few weeks later, I got a call and the president from TAC told me I was accepted. I held my excitement of the call to seem professional, but as soon as I hung up, I showed my elation in screams and shouts. I was ecstatic. I beat the odds. I made the council. This was just the start.

I spent the next three years growing as a TAC member and learning more about the Ronald McDonald House. Currently, I am proud to say I am the co-student director of TAC and play a key role in our annual bowling fundraiser Spare Some Love, which was planned to take on March 3 in Marlton, NJ. It’s my favorite fundraiser of the year, because it’s amazing to see more than 600 high schoolers out for a good cause.

Looking back at my younger self, I realized I had all the talents, but the Ronald McDonald House was the place that let those talents shine. The families staying at the house face so much adversity, but instead face their challenges with a smile, and that’s what I’ve learned to do, too.

For those who are shy or maybe don’t feel like they have what it takes to apply for a job or a leadership position, go for it. It’s changed my life in so many ways, and I would encourage others to get involved, so they can have the same experiences I had. As I volunteer for the last time at the Spare Some Love event, it’s extra special since it’s my senior year. I look forward to returning as a college student and continuing to give back to my local community.

Author: Andy Kumar is the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey Teen Advisory Council Co-Student Director and is a current senior at Eastern High School.