College: Manhattan College
What do you do?
I am an 8th grade Language Arts, and Instructional Reading teacher. I also coach the Girls Varsity Basketball Team.
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
I chose to become a Lasallian Volunteer for many reasons including a challenging experience, job opportunities, a chance to adventure a new city etc. But mostly, I joined the program because I was following my heart. There was something bigger calling to me than just a job, or “something to do for a year”. I came into the program truly believing I would only complete one year, and here I am happier than ever in the middle of my 2nd year. Any hopes or expectations I had of the LV program and Chicago have been surpassed by extreme amounts. All of the ups and downs I expected to go through, I did. But, I have also realized that no matter how many down times there are, those up times, those happy moments make you feel greater than life. The students and co-workers I spend 10+ hour days with have changed who I am. They have made me realize more than ever, that impossible is nothing.
I would never consider this a “disappointment”, but I would say my biggest surprise or shock is how committed I became to a mission, to a community, and to a school just by joining a volunteer program. Working at San Miguel has affected me in ways nothing thus far in my life has. It is what keeps me going and what has kept me here in Chicago for a 2nd year. I attempt to fast forward to 2010 and beyond and I cannot see myself without Gary Comer. So in thinking of a disappointment in my volunteer service I would say I am disappointed to think of how hard it is going to be to leave this place that I now consider home, and people who I now consider family.
Do you see yourself as different now from your friends from college as a result of the LV experience? How so?
The LV experience has completely transformed my life. I sometimes wonder where I would be if I had not ventured down this path, and I don’t really even want to know the answer. It was the best decision I made. Adjusting into a brand-new community life, along with learning the ropes in a full time teaching position was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Leaving behind college, friends and family did not make this task any easier. Although it was difficult I now look at it as an experience that has only made me stronger. I feel much more advanced into the rat race of the “real world” then some people that I went to college with. I see myself different mostly in appreciating life and what we have to offer. We so often as young adults take things for granted, and if anything working in the Austin community has taught me not to do that.
Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
If you are a college senior who feels drive to do good for those underprivileged and knows that they cannot just be mediocre, I would say the LV program is for you. If you are looking for an experience that will challenge you in ways you never thought, this is for you. The LV program has just the right amount of people that you feel connected to all, but also feel a big group vibe.
If you would like to continue on in the “college ways” and habits I would say this program is not for you. The lifestyle of an LV is challenging, at times draining but always rewarding. You have responsibilities and tasks that effect people daily. That is the beauty of it, as a graduating senior you become immediately interjected into the “real world” and quickly become accustomed to the early morning work life. You also will learn what it means to LOVE being asleep by 9 p.m. I would recommend the LV program to any and all college seniors who feel compelled in their heart to make a difference; I promise the LV program will give you that.