Intelligent and optimistic are just a couple of the many adjectives one might use to describe Belk Scholar Rahael Borchers '15. The political science major from the San Francisco Bay area lives by the mantra "more compassion, less judgment" and dedicates much of her time outside of the classroom to volunteering. Borchers has focused her attention on one issue in particular-homelessness. Her involvement with the local organization Ending Poverty in Charlotte (EPIC) has not only shaped her outlook but also her aspirations.
"When I first came to Davidson as a prospective student, I was interviewed by a student who had founded EPIC," recalls Borchers. "I decided that if I were lucky enough to go to school here, I would find this group and get involved in the greater Charlotte community."
With EPIC, and through volunteering with Room at the Inn in Davidson, Borchers has served as a counselor and as a familiar face that homeless neighbors can go to for support or friendship.
"Volunteers usually receive much more than they are able to give," she said. "It is the same here. The neighbors have taught me so much, through stories of life, survival and faith."
In addition to her work with the homeless community of Charlotte, Borchers is involved in Davidson's political scene, leading the College Democrats and encouraging her peers to invest themselves in the political process, regardless of party affiliation.
"We need their belief and engagement," Borchers said of her peers. "It won't get any better if we only complain. We can't give up our voices and minds."
Borchers hopes to have a career that allows her to work toward a more just world-a world without poverty. Whether it be by reshaping public policy, increasing the effectiveness of aid, advocating through the law or engaging the private sector, she has yet to define the path by which she will create change. Her first step will be to join Habitat for Humanity's Global Programs Team in Washington, D.C., as a 2015-16 Davidson Impact Fellow. As the organization's International Shelter Initiatives Fellow, Borchers will strategically advance Habitat's vision of "a world where everyone has a decent place to live."
"It breaks my heart in cases where we can't do anything more than give someone a bus pass and send them on their way," she said. "When you come into conflict with an existing condition you cannot immediately change, dishonesty and denial will get you nowhere. You have to make noise."
Beyond empathy and passion, what keeps Borchers motivated are the people in her life.
"There's beauty in every human heart," she said. "To me, that is so energizing and life-affirming."