‘Small-town girl trying to make a difference’

Hospitality leadership major Abby Colvin '17 hopes to make a career of community service. (Photo by Duane Zehr)

Matt Hawkins
October 20, 2015

Much like tragedy shaped Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams’s dedication to medicine, Bradley student Abby Colvin’s ’17 darkest hour became a defining moment that guides her passion for service.

Adams, made famous by the 1998 Robin Williams movie “Patch Adams,” rebounded from childhood bullying and the deaths of his father and a close friend to become an advocate for humorous, holistic care.

Similarly, Colvin, a hospitality leadership major from Varna, Illinois, decided to dedicate her life to nonprofits after witnessing her high school boyfriend’s battle with cancer and ultimate death. She saw organizations like Make-A-Wish Foundation rally around hurting youth and she vowed to make a difference in honor of her friend.

In making that vow, she used Adams’ life as her inspiration.

“I want to be part of an organization that lets someone be happy for one more day,” she said.

Since being a doctor is not her calling, she decided nonprofit work was the best option for her.

Colvin saw Bradley’s hospitality leadership degree and Fellows program as keys to reaching her dream. She jumped into the University’s myriad service organizations as a Fellow, then committed countless hours to the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service. Additionally, she traveled across the country on the annual spring break work trip organized by Students Today Leaders Forever.

Two summer internships at Easter Seals Central Illinois, gave Colvin a firsthand look at compassion in action. After working around children at Easter Seals, she resolved to build a career that will revolve around children through organizations like Make-A-Wish, Easter Seals and St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

These experiences pushed her outside her comfort zone and transformed her into a confident, outgoing leader. Bradley also showed she could impact the world whether she was in a small farm town like Varna or a city like Peoria.

“I’m a small-town girl trying to make a difference in a big world,” Colvin said. “You don’t have to be in Africa saving elephants to be a good volunteer. You just need someone in need and the creativity to find a way to meet that need.”