AGEC Freshmen Gives Back to Campus Community through Best Buddies Organization 

Written By: Jo Thomas, Academic Advisor 

Every fall AGEC freshmen take AGR 112, a course designed to introduce them to the department as well as build relationships with upperclassmen mentors. Last fall, Courtney Rodkey (APAE; Frankfort) learned about an on-campus organization, Best Buddies, through her mentor and decided to join the organization, a decision she says has made a huge impact on her personally and professionally. 

“My mentor in my AGR 112 class was involved with Best Buddies and she expressed how much she enjoyed the club. I was really interested in getting involved on campus and thought this would be a great opportunity, so I went to a callout and decided to join! My high school didn’t have Best Buddies, so this was a new experience for me.” 

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  

There are different levels of membership within Best Buddies. Peer members go to monthly meetings, participate in other campus and state events, and are paired with a buddy with IDD. They meet with their buddy twice a month as well as at monthly meetings. Associate members do the same things as peer members, but they aren’t paired one-on-one with a buddy. At meetings, they get to join a buddy pair and visit with them or hang out with someone whose buddy couldn’t make it because of an exam or other commitment.  

Joining Best Buddies has had a profound effect on Courtney, helping her grow in many ways while also giving back to the campus community. “I have grown through this club involvement because I have learned more about people with IDD and feel more confident to advocate for those with IDD.”  

When asked about something that surprised her about joining the organization, Courtney reflected on how much she enjoys going to meetings. “Sometimes people dread going to a meeting for work or an organization, but I actually look forward to our meetings! There’s always so much energy in the room, and it's just a nice time to talk with friends, play games, and snack.” 

Outside of regular meetings, Courtney loves seeing all of the buddies around campus. “Many of the people with IDD work on campus in the food courts or other areas. It's so awesome seeing their faces light up when they see you outside of the “Best Buddies setting”. 

Courtney joined the organization last fall as an associate member but is considering becoming a peer member next year. No matter which type of membership she goes with, Courtney is excited to return for the fall semester and continue working with the Best Buddies Organization. “Best Buddies is a great organization and I encourage everyone to come to a callout to see more of what we do!” 

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