Kendra Serrano

Major:  Health Science with Health Education Option
Hometown:  Redwood City, CA
Class:  Senior
Program Position: Director of Immersion Programs | CAVE

As a freshman, Kendra kept a low profile while she was getting acclimated to campus. Her sophomore year she heard a class talk about CAVE that mentioned weekend trips. She thought that would be the perfect way to get a taste of volunteering. “I signed up and my first trip was to the Yountville Veterans Home and I was hooked!” Ten trips later and Kendra is just as passionate as she was on that first visit. “I love hearing the residents’ stories about serving their country and about the jobs they’ve had and the places they’ve been. It’s fascinating! The trips have given me the opportunity to come out of my comfort zone.”

CAVE took advantage of Kendra’s passion for the Immersion Programs and hired her to be a group leader for Yountville. As one of three group leaders, she took 11 volunteers on each of three trips to the veteran’s home. “Getting to work with the nursing staff and having exposure to that population of seniors as well as diverse volunteers was amazing. I want to work with special needs children, but I love the seniors and would feel comfortable in any situation.”

Kendra was “fast-tracked” and after only a semester on staff, she became the coordinator of the Yountville Program. In this capacity she supervised a staff of three group leaders in addition to recruiting volunteers and monitoring all paperwork and documentation.

Then a semester later, the support of other CAVE staff convinced Kendra to apply for the Director of Weekend Immersion Programs. In this role, her responsibilities expanded to include two additional programs, Golden Gate National Parks and the Sonoma Developmental Center. As a director, she supervises a staff of 18 who facilitate the placement of approximately 150 volunteers each semester. The job demands excellent organizational skills and attention to detail – two of Kendra’s strong suits. She developed a color coded “play by play” program manual (“I’ve been told I’m a little OCD”) so anyone who follows in her footsteps will know exactly what to do.

Kendra takes her director role very seriously. “I’ve learned to draw the line between being a professional and being a friend.” She also credits CAVE for enhancing her time management skills.  “I’m completely in love with CAVE. It is a very welcoming and supportive environment.  It’s a safe place to make mistakes and grow. We’re one big happy family.” And Kendra’s CAVE family experience has extended beyond her staff involvement. She has actively volunteered at Napa State Hospital, Sonoma Developmental Center, Angel Island, Golden Gate National Park, and an Alternative Spring Break experience with Habitat for Humanity in Los Angeles.

Kendra will walk in May’s graduation, but will complete an internship next fall, hopefully with disabled children. She then plans to go to nursing school at the University of San Francisco. She hopes to be accepted into a special three year program which would earn her a nursing degree and a master’s degree.

In Kendra’s words:
“Being a director at CAVE has completely changed my life. I used to be very shy. I never imagined I’d be able to talk in front of groups of 200 people, but CAVE has given me the confidence and self esteem to do just that. I’m not afraid to try something new.”