Shorecrest alumna Megan Freedman ‘16 is now a senior at the University of Florida (UF) and has dedicated much of her final year at UF to her passion cause, UF’s Health Shands Children’s Hospital (the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital) and the fundraising event Dance Marathon. Megan serves as the Overall Public Relations Director for the university-wide fundraising event.
For those not familiar with UF Dance Marathon, it is one of the largest and most successful college student-run philanthropic events in the United States. Each Spring, over 800 students remain awake and on their feet for 26.2 hours, raising funds and awareness for the pediatric patients at Shands.
Shorecrest prides itself on graduating empathetic, independent thinkers who pursue passions and lead purposeful lives. Megan has carried these qualities forward in her college life and is giving back in big ways. We caught up with Megan to learn more about her time at UF, her involvement in Dance Marathon and her advice for future Chargers entering college and navigating campus activities.
How did you become interested in communications and specifically public relations/marketing?
My major is Marketing and I am also in a combined-degree program and will graduate with my Master's of International Business in the Spring of 2020. Honestly, when I was starting at UF I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew I enjoyed writing, and Marketing seemed like an interesting area of study that was flexible and would teach me many different skills. Serving as the Public Relations Overall Director for UF’s Dance Marathon has been an amazing learning experience in the areas of PR and Journalism, since there is not as much overlap with what I study in my Marketing classes as many people would expect.
How did you become involved with Dance Marathon and in what capacities have you been involved?
I became involved with Dance Marathon my freshman year as a Dancer. In this role I stayed awake and on my feet for 26.2 hours straight! I decided to dance immediately after listening to a few Miracle Stories from families battling pediatric illness and hearing about the impact that DM at UF has made on their lives. Dancing was truly the most inspiring 26.2 hours of my life, so going into my sophomore year I decided to become more involved with the cause by joining the Public Relations Captain Team. The following year I took on the role of an Assistant Director on the Public Relations Team, furthering my involvement with DM. This year, I am serving as the Public Relations Overall Director for Dance Marathon at UF
. In this role, I work alongside 20 other Overall Directors to lead our organization throughout the year, with the goal of raising millions of dollars for the pediatric patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital (for reference - last year, DM at UF raised an astounding $3,230,025.23!). I lead a team of 30 Public Relations Captains, and we are responsible for the DM at UF social media, blogs, press releases, media outreach, and anything else PR-related!
Tell us about Dance Marathon, Children's Miracle Network and why the cause is important to you.
I can say with confidence that Dance Marathon at UF has changed my life forever. There is no other organization, no other cause, no other group of people I would rather surround myself with and support every single day. I am so grateful that I get to pour my heart into this cause and make my impact of the future of childhood illness for so many families who need our support. DM at UF has 80 Miracle Families involved with our organization, but we support every single child who enters UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Every child, every sibling, every parent I've gotten to meet is so unique, but they all consistently exhibit such incredible strength through their hardships. These families are a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have my health, and every moment spent with these children empowers me to fight harder for the day when no child has to walk through the doors of a hospital. I can never say enough about the immense impact Dance Marathon at UF has made on me, but I will absolutely work my hardest to make my impact on this organization in return.
What other organizations are you involved with at UF?
My main involvement at UF this year is Dance Marathon. I am also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and I work as a Research Assistant with one of my Marketing professors.
What do you hope to pursue as a career once you graduate from UF and do you plan on staying involved with Children's Miracle Network?
One day, I hope to pursue a career in Marketing and communications for a non-profit organization. I think the way an organization tells its story and portrays its mission to the public is so important, and being in a position to tell that story is so unique and rewarding to me. I would love to use my skills in writing and communications to make an impact on the world and the individuals around me. I will definitely join the Dance Marathon at UF Alumni after graduation to continue making an impact on the organization, and I will definitely be on the lookout for any opportunities to stay involved with the Children’s Miracle Network.
What would you be your advice to those graduating from Shorecrest in how they can get involved in campus activities and causes?
My biggest piece of advice to Shorecrest graduates looking to get involved on their college campuses is to really think about what they feel passionate about, what they enjoy doing, and what will put a smile on their face each day. If you join an organization that truly makes you happy, you will get so much more out of it, and you will feel much more motivated to devote your time and energy to that organization. College campuses present so many amazing opportunities to make an impact on the university, the local community, or on an even larger-scale, so I recommend taking advantage of any opportunity that piques your interest and inspires you.
Even during this very busy time leading up to the March event, Megan has her eyes set on another important date. Next week, on October 22-23, is the annual fundraising push day called Transform Today. Dance Marathon has set out to raise $650,000 in 26.2 hours in support of the children and families at UF Health Shands. The entire UF campus, the Gainesville community, and other college and high school students around the state of Florida will be raising funds and awareness for the cause to help reach the goal. To learn more about Megan’s passion organization https://floridadm.org/ or to support her efforts, her personal fundraising page can be found at https://donate.giving.ufhealth.org/MeganFreedman