October 2015: Ellie Cash

Cash, Ellie

Ellie Cash, 15-16

Ministry: San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona

College: Saint Louis University

What do you do?

My official title is “Student Support Coordinator” and I serve in both the academic setting and in Campus Ministry. Since the start of the school year, I’ve helped to develop the school-wide study hall, arranging students so that they can best complete work, receive tutoring, and provide a setting for studying. I also help with Lasallian Youth, organizing sites for students to serve both the on- and off-campus community. Lastly, I assist with San Miguel’s “El Otro Lado” U.S./Mexico Border Immersion Trips, which helps our students and those from visiting Lasallian schools understand the different perspectives of immigration. These different aspects of my position have been the perfect fit for me, and I’m blessed to be able to say that I love coming to work every day!

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?

When I was choosing a post-grad volunteer program, the most important part of the program for me was the mission. The Lasallian Volunteer program’s pursuit of living its mission is overwhelmingly apparent in the work each of us does. I chose this program specifically because of its emphasis on the power of education, as well as my individual role at a Cristo Rey Network school. I would say that my hopes have definitely fulfilled, as I feel constantly supported, always have someone to turn to with questions, and my work with our students has been so rewarding.

Have you noticed any signs of success in your work?

Ellie & The Tortilla Man

Ellie with a tortilla maker in Nogales, Mexico

When I was a Resident Advisor at one of the residence halls in college, my supervisors would say that we know we’ve done a good job when one of our residents wants to become an RA, too. As much as I didn’t completely agree with this philosophy, this same concept has come up in my role as an LV here at San Miguel. One student was questioning the different parts of LV life – living with the Brothers, what it means to be in community, who’s the best cook, etc. – and at the end of her questioning, she said she wanted to be an LV. Knowing that this student was impacted by my role means so much to me, but even more than that, it helps me know that she’s seriously thinking about her future and how she wants to help serve her community and the education world as a whole.

If you could project ahead a few years and look back to now, how do you think your experiences with those you serve and with the Brothers will have changed you?

Even after being here for just two months, I know that the challenges I’ve had in all aspects of LV life – faith, community, and service – have helped shape how I conduct myself and have changed my perspective on life completely. The Brothers lead lives of humility, and while their schedule is demanding, they make it work so that it benefits each community member for what he/she needs most. Day after day, this ability to help everyone just amazes me, and I know I’ll be thinking about it when it comes to interacting with coworkers in the professional sense and with friends outside of work, too. San Miguel students work so hard and against a system that is set up for them to fail, and they succeed. Knowing just a small amount of what they have to go through regularly to complete their work and come back every day is incredible, and I hope that one day they realize how much they’ve inspired everyone – me and all of the other faculty and staff members here. I know it may sounds cliche, but wow, I can’t wait to hear about their successes in the future. 

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?

I would say that the Brothers are simply a gift. I chose to be an LV because of the intentional combination of our three core values – faith, community, and service – and how LV very actively lives those out. The Brothers are so wise and will give you critical and well-thought-out advice about your daily ministry, but still love joking around the dinner table. It’s exactly the balance you want as a recent college grad entering the professional world.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?

Leading student group on a migrant train in the Senoran Desert

Leading student group on a migrant train in the Senoran Desert

Actually, I’ve talked about this with current LVs many times – that this program is perfect for post-grad. LV sets you up with a series of mentors, both professional and personal, not to mention the mentorship that comes automatically from living with the Brothers. Then there’s the fact that you have a few dozen second-year LVs who are basically waiting for your phone call from across the country when you have a bad day, or when you have an amazing moment with students/clients. There’s also the program staff who regularly check in about all things regarding your experience, as well as visit your community twice a year, personally making sure all is going well. For a first job, this is it. This is what you want. I promise.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?

When you make a donation to the LV Program, you know that it is going to something very intentional and purposeful. LV doesn’t just choose any college grad who wants some direction in life, but someone who will proudly represent its charism and proactively pursue it in everyday living. Know that not only does a donation to the Lasallian Volunteers go toward communities in need, but people who whole heartedly care and are doing everything they can to help students who need it most.

How would you like to continue your involvement with the Lasallian family after your time with Lasallian Volunteers?

On the Mexico-US Border

On the Mexico-US Border

I would really love to be a mentor for Lasallian Volunteers or serve as a retreat coordinator for Lasallian high schools and colleges. Every day brings a new challenge as an LV, and I’d love to be a go-to person, especially for first-year volunteers. In addition, the time I spend with our students is always my most cherished, so to continue working with them as they grow into smart and talented young adults would be an honor.

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