Helping others has been a part of junior Paige Hignite’s life for many years, and her service seems to stem from her deep devotion to her faith. Her Catholic upbringing has kept her rooted, and because her faith means so much to her, it encourages her to give more of herself. It has simply become a part of who she is.
“Serving others has been the center of my faith and to me, it’s the best way to share faith,” she said.
Junior Paige Hignite has volunteered for as long as she can remember, and through her willingness to serve others, she makes meaningful connections with those who need help the most.
Perhaps the organization dearest to Hignite’s heart is Ronald McDonald House Charities, the nonprofit that keeps families with sick children together and near the care and resources they need.
Finding the time to help has never been a problem for Hignite. The neuroscience major first started doing serious volunteer work while in high school when she decided to devote time to the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati. When Hignite moved to Evansville, she did not want to lose that connection to RMH so she contacted the home’s local coordinators and was able to not only get involved, but coordinate other efforts as well.
“These families are in the hardest time of their lives,” she said. “I love being able to give them that safe place, that comfort you can’t find in a hospital. It’s a great place for families to come together.”
Hignite was also involved with a mentoring program while in high school and has continued to influence children by her memberships in Honors ACE Mentors and College Mentors for Kids.
“It’s nice to help kids realize that they can do anything they want,” she said. “Those kids are in need of role models and having a stable person around.”
Hignite is a longtime member of Newman Club, a national organization for Catholic students whose purpose is to deepen their faith and to have fellowship with other Catholic students. Hignite previously served on the campus ministry team and is now the service chair. Her most recent endeavor was spearheading a fall campus blood drive for the club, the second time she has worked to make it happen. She said not only did the blood drive fill all available volunteer positions but it also exceeded goals.
“She is the most productive person I’ve ever seen,” junior Olivia Voegerl said. “She’s the one who runs the blood drive. This [school] year, she helped save 60 lives. We col
lected 60 pints of blood, and she coordinated the whole thing.”
Hignite tries to apply her selfless attitude to everything she does. Anyone who knows her knows that when she gets involved, she always likes to reach out to people. With RMH, she tries to get people to dedicate two hours a week on Tuesday nights to help those families and children affected by illness.
“She’s always willing to involve anyone who wants to be involved,” sophomore Sindi Dlamini said. “She opens the door for other people. She’s a good source to go to for community service.”
Hignite also works with USI’s Newman Club chapter once a month to do community service projects and has also started volunteer initiatives within her sorority, Chi Omega.
“For her to do service is second nature to her,” Dlamini said. “Other people do it for hours or for a resume, but she does it without wanting anything back.”
In addition to the organizations she helps locally, she also volunteers time at a hos pital near her Fort Mitchell, Ky., home.
“She’s in tune and sensitive to people,” said Cherie Leonhardt, assistant director of the Honors Program. “She’s very kind and considerate but also not afraid to talk about uncomfortable things. It’s not easy to find someone sensitive and compassionate and also able to manage difficult situations. She can handle those situations with grace. She’s a true leader.”
Hignite’s passion for giving back will undoubtedly continue as she finishes her degree and when her career blossoms. She hopes to attend graduate school and one day become a speech therapist because she said when people lose the ability to speak, they lose a big part of themselves.
“Medicine involves a different type of service,” she said. “Being a part of medicine is a major part of getting people back to where they want to be.”
No matter what she ends up doing later in life, Hignite said she always wants to keep service at the center of her work. Whether she gives back as part of her job, stays in contact with RMH or chooses a new volunteer path entirely, there is no doubt she will keep serving.
“She’s like a light bulb,” Voegerl said. “She’s full of ideas and wants to see them through.”