The list of activities and events Jenni Aragon is involved with is long. But the reason she's so active is quite concise.
In fact, it can all be traced back to one night a few years ago when she was still in high school, a night that forever changed her outlook on life.
After competing in an FCCLA culinary competition in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jenni was traveling back to her hometown of Tyler when she was involved in a head-on collision. Three of the five passengers in her vehicle had to be CarFlighted to a hospital in Houston, and Jenni was one of those three.
However, she actually considers herself to be fortunate.
Of the three passengers that had to be rushed to the emergency room, Aragon sustained the least severe injuries – a fact that still sticks with her to this day.
"It shocked me when they told me that. Because when I looked at how severely injured everyone else was, I realized I could've been that person. I could've been injured just as bad. And I wasn't," she said. "It kind of helped me to take advantage of every opportunity that I get to give back to my community, every chance that I get to not waste any of my days. To live it to the fullest. To travel as much as possible. To get involved as much as possible.
"It taught me to definitely enjoy the little things and the little moments. Giving back is one of those for sure."
A few years after that life-threatening car accident, Aragon is thriving as a junior at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. In addition to playing defense for the JWU Denver women's lacrosse team, Aragon is the Work Study and Development student assistant for the university's Student Involvement and Leadership office.
Because she's usually the first to know about anything happening on campus, Jenni is quick to donate her time toward a variety of different organizations around the university and surrounding communities. Through various 'Day of Service' events on campus, Aragon has previously worked with Habitat For Humanity ReStore and Special Olympics of Colorado, among others.
Her favorite community service experience event occurred just a few months ago when she and several of her teammates spent MLK Day of Service at nearby Anchor Center for Blind Children, a state-of-the-art school for visually impaired children. Jenni helped make books uniquely designed for Anchor students and was blown away by all the resources that have been dedicated to help the school's students develop into strong, confident individuals.
"It was really an awe-inspiring experience," she said. "It's a very fulfilling feeling, it's very satisfying to know that just these little things that you're doing that seem so simple to you, can make a major impact on their lives for the better."
As a fourth-year program in a new conference, JWU Denver women's lacrosse is consistently trying to find ways to grow the program, and having someone like Aragon be part of the team has been a tremendous asset.
"We definitely look to a lot of our freshmen to step up and follow in Jenni's role," head coach Mallory Bahr said. "We have many who are stepping up and being like, 'OK, Coach, Jenni and I want to do this, and Jenni and I want to do that.' She's made such a huge impact on our team already. Just her spirit makes us want to be involved in the community more."