Growing up was hard for Emily Journagan. The daughter of 14-year-old parents, Journagan’s mother suffered depression and eventually became addicted to drugs and alcohol, passing away at the age of 40.
“It was rough for a daughter to watch her mother go through all that,” Journagan says of her childhood.
“When my mother passed away during finals one year in college, I was angry. I made the decision, though, not to isolate myself.”
Journagan signed up to be a mentor in the Missouri Mentoring Partnership Program, which matches volunteers with mothers and fathers under the age of 21.
“I learned a lot about the struggles a person faces when they get pregnant before they are ready,” she says. “I experienced a viewpoint that helped me understand my mother. From that point on, I had a hard time being mad at my mother for not living up to my expectations.”
And Journagan hasn’t stopped helping others ever since. As volunteer services coordinator for the Drury University Office of Community Outreach and Leadership, Journagan implemented Project Panther service days, a monthly, organized community service day, that has netted 900 extra hours of community service in just nine months.
“When I started at Drury, I kept hearing college students say they wanted to volunteer but didn’t have time to organize,” Journagan says.
Since, the university has sent 40 volunteers to Artsfest, 40 to the Sertoma Chili Cookoff and more than 300 to the Meals a Million pack-a-thon in November, hosted by the Musgrave Unit of Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks.
Before working with the Springfield university, Journagan took on the role of teen director at the Musgrave Unit, once again, helping students stretch their community service muscles. Working with teens, Journagan says many had chaotic lives but found service work fulfilling.
“I had teenagers who didn’t have a home to go to at the end of the night but were going to Doling Park to pick up trash and were planting flowers at Harmony House,” she says.
Journagan continues her work with Boys and Girls Club through the Mission Mentor program, which pairs mentors with club members for weekly meetings.
Journagan is also a member of the Drury Student Professional Development Steering Committee, co-advises 10 Drury freshman and serves as the community services chairwoman for Springfield’s Rotaract club, with a goal of developing better communities.
“I am committed to my goal, and to work toward it I have devoted my professional career as well as my personal life,” she says.
“I have fully made the commitment, and perhaps, that one things sets me apart more than anything else.”Click here for full coverage of the 2013 40 Under 40.