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Briggsie Krystal Jang earns Spartan Volunteer Service Award for volunteering over 550 hours in one year

March 19, 2023 - Blythe White

Congratulations to Briggsie and Honors College student Krystal Jang, who earned the 2023 Spartan Volunteer Service Award for volunteering over 100 hours in one year, from November of 2021 to November of 2022. Krystal was part of a smaller cohort of five awardees who had volunteered 550 hours in that same time span. Krystal's total was an astonishing 761 hours. The award is an MSU presidential recognition administered by the Center for Community Engaged Learning each year.

We asked Krystal to answer some questions about herself and her passion for volunteering. 

What is your major?

Krystal JangI am currently a junior majoring in physiology with a long-established goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Currently taking physiology courses, I finally feel as if my desire for understanding the human body and biological processes is being fulfilled. I never thought I'd say, “I enjoy learning,” but the content I learn through my physiology courses stimulates my desire to learn, and it gives me certainty that I am currently in the right path toward a future I can be passionate about.


What made you decide to come to Lyman Briggs College?

I was first introduced to Lyman Briggs College through my high school teacher, Mrs. Pohlonski, who was a Briggsie herself. She described a welcoming environment that I could fit in as an introverted student. Even through “Zoom University," my Lyman Briggs courses stood out to me, as I felt more connected to the professors, students and the university, despite the remote setting. This feeling of belonging has been reinforced each semester as a Briggsie, through meeting sincere and caring professors and other Briggsies who share both the joy and pain of college. Even the halls of Holmes Hall itself have grown on me. My appreciation for LBC has also grown through my role as an undergraduate learning assistant (ULA) for Briggs chemistry. Seeing the chemistry professors’ passion for chemistry, and their support of the students has inspired my enthusiasm for teaching. I can say that LBC has definitely enriched my college experience, and I am beyond grateful to be part of this caring community.


For what organization(s) do you volunteer?

The majority of my volunteering has been with the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention (SACI) team in the MSU Center for Survivors. My role as a hotline and crisis chat volunteer is to provide direct support to primary survivors and co-survivors of sexual violence. I started this meaningful work in September of 2021 and still volunteer in those positions. In September of 2022, I joined the executive board of SACI with the hope of increasing awareness of the team, and increasing support for survivors.

I have also served as a volunteer research assistant, exploring the effects of quality of light on fertility with the MSU Hoffmann Lab. It feels awkward and distant to label myself as “volunteer research assistant,” since all members of the Hoffmann Lab have treated me with kindness and inclusion. Since May of 2021, I’ve worked with the postdoctoral research associate, Alex. My love for research has grown in the caring, supportive environment that Dr. Hoffmann, Alex, and all members of the lab provide.

Additionally, I have volunteered abroad, traveling to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic during March and May of 2022, respectively. In Costa Rica, I spent the days at a non-profit clinic through FIMRC with Dr. Karen to provide medical assistance to the community of people in Alajuelita. Despite the language barrier, the week spent in the clinic was incredibly enriching.

With some of my fellow Alpha Epsilon Delta members, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to provide care to multiple communities in multiple cities within the country. Along with a team of doctors, coordinators, and translators, we students set up free clinics at the community schools or churches to provide medical care and medication to the local people. The gratitude we received from the people was extraordinary. During home visits, every single person offered coffee, food, and drinks, despite any financial struggles they faced. Our medical support and treatment were rewarded with the people’s deep appreciation: holding our hands and giving us hugs with sparkling eyes of gratitude. I cannot tell you the impact this experience has had on me, and it has served to enhance my love and passion for practicing medicine.

What drives you to volunteer?

I’ve spent the most time trying to come up with this answer, as I didn’t want to give a cliché response of, “I volunteer to help people and give back to the community.” However, the more I think about it, wanting to help is the root from which I've grown and branched out to multiple areas of volunteering. Through branching out in multiple areas, it has exposed me to experiences I would not have been able to achieve without volunteering: interacting with people of all ages, discovering new interests like teaching and conducting research, exploring aspects of the medical field, and traveling abroad, immersing myself in new cultures.


With such a wide variety of volunteer opportunities at MSU, it is surprisingly easy to connect with the community to show your support. Not all volunteer work directly relates to helping the community, and one can certainly use volunteering as a ‘footstep’ to approach a new interest. The various volunteer roles I have also aren’t all directly related to giving back to the community. However, when participating in community work, the interaction with the people warms me from inside out. Those connections inspire me to become a better person, and inspire me to keep volunteering.    


550 service hours in one academic year is a lot. How do you fit it all in?

Looking back at the year, I was surprised to see a total of 761 volunteer hours, as it certainly did not feel like it! I’ve always been a person that keeps myself busy, even if it means pushing myself to my limits. I have so many interests, hobbies, and experiences I want to fulfill, with volunteering being one of the top priorities in my life. With time, I’ve learned to prioritize and structure my time according to these priorities, and though I feel shy to admit this myself, I can now say that time management is one of my strongest skills. But I also make sure to set aside time to spend time with friends. I’ve learned that these low-key times with my friends are necessary. College would be no fun without strong connections, spontaneous getaways and late-night adventures.


What advice would you give to Briggsies who want to volunteer?

Volunteer work has always been a meaning part of my life since high school. In brutal honesty, as a high school student, there were times where I felt forced to carry out volunteer work by doing one to two hours at random places to "get the hours." However, coming to a school as big as MSU, the number of volunteering opportunities is truly astonishing. All volunteer work is important; yet, if you can take part in volunteer work that you’re passionate about, it helps you grow you from inside out. I think finding your passion is the first step to volunteering; the first step to lead you to a valuable experience, giving back to the community.