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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Female student takes Big role in service Event

Fifty years ago, Texas A&M was the only land-grant college in the U.S. that denied admittance to females.
Now the number of women enrolled tops 20,000, and women fill some of the top leadership positions at the University. As director of Big Event, the largest student-run service project in the nation, Breanna Barnhill is one such woman.
Barnhill, a first generation Aggie along with her two older sisters, decided to come to A&M because of the University’s focus on developing leadership and the many opportunities to get involved.
“A&M placed an emphasis on becoming a strong leader of integrity and I found that to be attractive,” said the junior speech communication major.
Barnhill said Big Event was a perfect fit for her. She heard about it in high school from her older sister and became involved her first year at A&M. As a freshman, Barnhill was a staff assistant in the organization, and she served as an outreach executive her sophomore year before reaching the position of director this year.
Barnhill’s responsibilities as director encompass all aspects of the organization. She organizes and oversees the committees and works alongside them to complete tasks such as planning the day of the event, gathering food donations, recruiting participants and community residents, training committee members and participant leaders, distributing job request forms, and matching students with jobs.
“One of the things that make Breanna a great leader is her ability to see how all the little details always tie back to the big picture,” said Big Event Adviser Abby Howell. “Also, she is able to balance the student and leader in student leader. She takes her academic coursework very seriously and knows how to successfully balance the two.”
For Barnhill, Big Event is more than an opportunity to gain leadership skills, it’s her passion.
“I love the mission of Big Event, serving to serve. It encompasses serving out of your heart for no reason other than to bless someone’s day,” Barnhill said.
The mission of Big Event is to promote campus and community unity by allowing students to express their gratitude for the support from the surrounding community through one day of service-oriented activities. It is not based on socioeconomic need, but rather extends its hand to the entire community, performing service projects such as washing windows, painting buildings, cleaning yards and picking up trash.
The story of Big Event’s humble beginning is an inspiration for Barnhill.
“That one man made a decision to change the relationship between the community and the University and because of his actions [the organization] has flourished and both the community and University have been blessed,” she said. “All you have to do is make the decision to act and great things can be accomplished.”
It started in 1982 by one student looking to show appreciation to the community supporting A&M. Big Event has now grown to encompass more than 12,000 student participants performing more than 1,000 jobs.
Barnhill’s own decision to lead Big Event has led to accomplishments as well. In 2009, the organization has recorded the largest number of participants in its history, with one quarter of the student population participating.
“One of the biggest parts of being a leader is knowing where you are and where the organization is when you come in and seeing the opportunity for growth,” Howell said. “She has sought out those opportunities to see what she can do to help the members, committees, and organization grow.”
Big Event has impacted every aspect of her life, from the process of building relationships and the way she manages conflict and time to her future career plans, Barnhill said.
From the rewarding service experience she has gained through Big Event contrasting with her time interning with a large corporation, Barnhill has discovered a desire for volunteer or non-profit work.
“I realized I need something that has a purpose and a personal meaning for me besides just making money,” Barnhill said. “I really have a heart and passion for service.”
Barnhill’s passion is evident to the people around her.
“Breanna has an obvious devotion and passion for what Big Event stands for,” Howell said. “She is very compassionate about other people and it shows through her interactions with the executive team, me, the members, and the participants.”
Her passion has spread across campus as well.
“What I like about Big Event is you get to hang out with your friends but you get to do something more important than just hanging out,” said sophomore communication major Sam Baker, who organized a group to participate in 2008 and 2009.
How to helpThe service project will take place all day Saturday. Students not already registered can still participate by signing up 8 a.m. Saturday in Reed Arena parking lot. Kick-off is at 9:30 a.m.

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