First-year honors kinesiology student Alanna Celaya gained a reputation as a caring person after just one term at Oregon State University.
Since starting at OSU, Alanna has been an Honors X service chair and has participated in various community service events on- and off-campus. Honors X is a student-run offshoot of the Honors College Student Association (HCSA) that focuses on the first-year experience. With Honors X, Alanna coordinated the Krispy Kreme fundraiser for the annual OSU food drive, which sold almost 100 boxes and raised enough money to provide 3,000 meals.
On her own time, Alanna organized an event during fall term 2020 in which residents of Sackett and West residence halls wrote thank-you letters for the custodial staff in the Learning Innovation Center (LINC). The LINC is home to the Honors College office as well as the SLUG, a study space for honors students that provides computers, free printing, storage space and more.
“I’ve always loved giving back to my community,” Alanna says. “It’s a way to be thankful for the fact that I have the opportunity to be up here in Oregon.”
Coming from Los Angeles County, California, an area among the hardest hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Alanna has seen firsthand how Covid can change people’s lives, especially the lives of essential workers.
“In early Covid times, people used to stand outside and bang on pots and pans. When they cut funds for the USPS, people would write notes to postal staff,” she says. “I thought to myself, custodial staff aren’t getting as much praise and thanks. I thought we needed a way to give back.”
The letter-writing event was initially planned to be in-person, but after a surge in Covid cases after Halloween, Alanna made the decision to make the event remote. While this decision resulted in a lower attendance rate, those who did show up wrote multiple cards to cover for those who couldn’t make it. She planned another letter-writing campaign towards the end of winter term 2021 for the custodial staff of the honors living-learning communities, Sackett and West residence halls.
“It’s hard to see how Covid has affected people I know,” she says. “It makes me feel helpless.” Through her letter writing event, however, Alanna has shown that small acts of appreciation can go a long way during difficult times.