Why I Serve: Mikaylah Ladue ’20

Thursday, Oct 17, 2019
by Benjamin Gelman ’22, Pace Center Student Correspondent

In this ongoing Q&A series we aim to highlight students, faculty, and staff who engage with service at Princeton and beyond. This month, we spoke to Mikaylah Ladue ’20, co-director for Princeton’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Can you share a brief introduction for yourself and your project?

Mikaylah Ladue '20

Mikaylah Ladue '20 

My name is Mikaylah Ladue and I am a senior studying legal and political anthropology with a certificate in gender and sexuality studies. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home, and that believes affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. As a campus chapter, we work with Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County and Greater Trenton-Princeton and are guided by four functions: direct service, fundraising, advocating, and educating. These opportunities can take many forms, including volunteering on a local home construction, advocating for policies to serve people in need of decent housing, and educating the local community about the importance of stable housing and how Habitat increases access to housing solutions.

What are your responsibilities in Habitat for Humanity?

As a co-director of Habitat for Humanity and the founder of our newly revived chapter, I am responsible for overseeing and organizing all events being planned by the chapter, including build projects, fundraising programs, and advocacy events. I additionally plan to consult with faculty and on-campus groups to run presentations that highlight the impact of hunger and homelessness in our community. Importantly, I look forward to engaging with members of Habitat for Humanity in order to establish a sustainable and impactful campus chapter.

Why were you drawn to working with Habitat for Humanity?

I was drawn to Habitat for Humanity because I believe they have an incredibly important mission and a strong influence. Habitat is a global organization dedicated to providing shelter because impoverished living conditions often lead to a number of detrimental consequences, including financial instability and poor health. In fact, in 2009, Dr. Steven K. Galston, acting surgeon general of the United States, said that "a comprehensive, coordinated approach to healthy homes will result in the greatest public health impact." Stable and affordable housing is the foundation for building a sustainable, strong, and healthy life. It is important that we, as a campus, contribute to an organization that is capable of creating change in our local community.

Is there anything unique you can share about the Princeton chapter of Habitat for Humanity?

Since we are reviving the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, we get to decide, as a group, how we want to proceed. This is incredibly exciting – we have full range to develop events that we are interested in and that we believe will have the greatest influence! That also means that we can experiment with different forms of advocacy, education, and fundraising in order to find what will mesh best with the campus community.

Why do you think it is important for Princeton students to be involved in service programs like Habitat for Humanity?

Engaging in community service has been the most positive and rewarding experience that I have had here on campus. Service allows for you to have a beneficial impact on individuals and communities. More importantly, it informs you of and exposes you to issues that are happening in your local community and gives you the opportunity to help mitigate these problems. Service is an extremely valuable way to spend your time and there are so many opportunities here on campus that students can pursue a project that truly interests them.

Collage of photos illustrating how Princeton University volunteers helped build 7 homes with Habitat for Humanity in Trenton, NJ.

Princeton students, faculty and staff were among the volunteers who helped build seven new Habitat for Humanity homes on North Clinton Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey.  The homes were dedicated during a ceremony in June 2018. Throughout the process of building the homes, the Pace Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton University helped facilitate numerous opportunities for students, staff and faculty to take part. Students with the Student Volunteers Council Habitat for Humanity service project contributed regularly throughout the academic year. First-year students entering the University helped out as part of Community Action. Students staying on campus during fall or spring break joined the effort through Breakout Local. Student-athletes participated as part of the Princeton Varsity Club’s Weapons of Mass Construction program. And Princeton staff and faculty had the opportunity to serve with their families and friends as part of Month of Service