When volunteer Megan Duffy offered her support and encouragement to one of the young boys at Camp Titan, she said she got a sweet surprise months later.
When she saw the boy again in December for the annual toy drive, he told her he always keeps her letter in his binder to look at when his peers are mean to him.
“There’s not words to describe what that does to you and it really does change your perspective. You never know what saying one little thing can do for somebody,” Duffy said.
The third year child and adolescent development major is also Associated Students Inc. (ASI) productions coordinator as well as a volunteer at Camp Titan, a charity that brings Orange County children to a campground in Big Bear where it teaches them leadership skills, has them participate in outdoor activities and build relationships. This year, she will serve as a leadership staff coordinator at the camp.
“She brings the light and happiness wherever she goes,” said kinesiology major Katy Johnson.
The 21-year-old said she aims to be a grade school teacher after graduating and earning her teaching credential.
Duffy has an “infectious energy” and sees value in things others don’t see, Johnson said. She works with Duffy in ASI and bonded during their time together at Camp Titan.
“(Being a counselor) reminded me that there is so much great in the world and so many things we should be thankful for and that (the children) can remind me, someone who is 21, about that, I think, is so amazing,” Duffy said. “We learn so much from them.”
Her time at Camp Titan was “a life-changing experience” because she saw how positive some of the children were despite their hardships, she said.
Before coming to CSUF, Duffy volunteered as a youth soccer coach, coaching both her little sister and little brothers’ soccer teams.
She was inspired by her 9-year-old sister Lily Perez to work with children, Duffy said.
“Growing up with her, I was a role model as much as I could be,” Duffy said. “But she is absolutely a role model for me and she is significantly younger than me, but that doesn’t change that fact that she is able to help me see things that I’m not seeing.”
Lily said she believes her sister will make a great teacher one day.
“(Duffy) is nice and also very caring for her siblings. She’s always talking in a nicer way and trying to calm me down when I’m mad or sad,” Lily said. “I love her being my sister. Whenever I’m hurt, she always cares for me and says nice things.”
Duffy didn’t show a maternal instinct until Lily was born, said Duffy’s mother Jennifer Perez.
After having a little sister to look after, Jennifer said she knew Duffy would grow up always going out of her way to help people.
“I think (Duffy) is a lifelong learner. She is always going to want to improve on who she is and what she knows,” Jennifer said.
Her daughter won’t stop at just being a teacher, Jennifer said. She will keep climbing and “never settle.”
Duffy envisions herself being a team mom and a part of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) on top of being an elementary school teacher.
“I’ve kind of always wanted to own my own summer camp or somehow be coordinating summer camp events,” Duffy said.
She said she would like to offer parents an affordable place to leave their children where they can have a fun experience.
Johnson said Duffy could do so many things with her future.
“She’s amazing with kids and she cares so much about them because she can see value where other people don’t,” Johnson said. “I think that’s so important especially when working with kids, especially when you work with at risk youth or underprivileged communities.”
Johnson said not only does Duffy have motivation and determination, but she also sees how important taking on challenges is.
“People don’t want to put in the time or see the value in doing that kind of work, but Megan is a person who does. She wants to empower others,” Johnson said.