Augusta University is encouraging integrity during its third annual Values Week.
Anabelle O’Keefe, a junior double-majoring in music and health services, opened up about her experiences with integrity.
Integrity is reflected in accountability, ethical behavior, honesty and reliability.
O’Keefe, from Marietta, has played the cello throughout her high school years and wanted to continue learning while she was in college. After she began her search for a college that would help her engage her passion for her instrument, she chose Augusta University.
“I wanted a more personalized experience with my professors and other students,” she said. “Going through the college application process, I noted that the professors reached out to me and went above and beyond as a prospective student. The small class sizes were also an asset to my learning style.”
“They’ve been great helping me transition and understand what career opportunities are available,” O’Keefe said. “It’s amazing to see how you can be challenged and pushed beyond what you thought was possible. By having that individualized experience, it drew me in more.”
O’Keefe has been double-majoring since she began her journey here, but recently changed her other degree from cell/molecular biology to health services. She knew music would always play a part in her life, but her interest in the medical field led her to pursue health services.
“The volunteer opportunities within the Augusta University community are something that assured me I wanted to go into the medical field,” she said. “I always loved health care. I knew I wanted to be involved in this field since I started volunteering in high school.”
O’Keefe has volunteered with Alliance Hospice and Palliative Care as a non-clinical aid. She uses skills from both degrees to interact with patients.
“It’s been great to go to different nursing homes and homes of patients and act as a non-clinical aid. I’ve been able to incorporate my musical side and play cello for some of the patients,” she said. “They would even make requests for me. It’s been meaningful to bring in an element of musical healing. Being compassionate and spending time with them definitely brightens up their day, especially those who may not have visitors.”
O’Keefe doesn’t only double up on her academics. She also does the same in her extracurriculars. Last year, she volunteered with the VolunJag program. She worked with primary care and the post-anesthesia care units at Augusta University Medical Center. Her experience ended abruptly as the COVID-19 took the world by storm.
“That was a really great experience,” she said. “It’s great to see how the doctors, nurses and CNAs coming together to serve the different patients in our community. It taught me a number of skills regarding how to work with people and provide hospitality.”
When she’s not volunteering in a health care setting, she teaches private cello lessons and finds other ways to perform. She says both are passions for her and she wants to continue to do both after she graduates.
“I honestly enjoy music and I wanted to pursue that in some capacity,” she said. “My bachelor of arts degree program allowed me to pursue another subject. I want to be well-rounded, even if it takes a little longer. It’s not a bad thing to have multiple passions. It’s possible to have different interests.”
O’Keefe’s efforts did not go unnoticed. She was selected as the student speaker for the ribbon-cutting for the newly renovated Fine Arts Center.
“To be able to speak and meet the different Deans, our president and the provost was super exciting for me,” she said. “It was significant for me to add a student perspective to that event. It was definitely a highlight.”
Crookall added that O’Keefe has been a pleasure to work with from the beginning.
“From the very first moment I met Anabelle, I was impressed by her professionalism and poise,” Crookall said. “Anabelle is incredibly motivated and driven to become the best musician she can. It has been exciting to watch her grow as a musician, and I continue to be impressed by her ability to take on challenges and rise to every occasion.”
Hear more from Roberto Aragon, coordinator for Student Involvement on In the Wild podcast.
“Integrity to me is staying true to your character, following through with things and treating everyone with respect,” she said.
O’Keefe says that to her, integrity means being honest and encouraging others to be the same. This includes being honest even when there is no one else watching you.
“It would be very easy for someone to cheat in this time of online learning,” she said. “But I make sure I give an accurate reflection of what I learned to my professors. I don’t cut corners.”
Her ties to integrity were put to the test when she and a coworker submitted presentations on a joint project, but her coworker’s information wasn’t included.
“In exemplifying integrity, I knew that this was against my own values to allow someone else’s work to go unnoticed and unrewarded and immediately spoke up. I worked with my coworker and the appropriate leadership to develop a solution where we could include her work,” she said.
Crookall also believes O’Keefe is a great representation of integrity.
“During the three years she has been at AU, I have seen so many examples of how she leads by this value,” she said. “Anabelle is always there, ready to help her colleagues study for an exam, listen to their performances, provide honest feedback, and she is always respectful to professors and students alike.”
To showcase integrity, the university will be signing posters for our local essential workers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 in the JSAC Breezeway. Students are encouraged to participate and show their gratitude for our frontline workers at AU Health.
O’Keefe, along with the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs, wants students to continue fostering integrity during Values Week.
“You’re not just a number to the university,” she said. “You are cared about. And that’s really meaningful.”
Check out more stories of our Values Week honorees. These students ‘prowldly‘ represent our six core values throughout the year.