Ministry: San Miguel Middle School of Tulsa
College: Saint Mary’s College of California
What do you do? I’m a teacher, tutor, athletic director, coach, and breakfast server. At San Miguel, I’m known for making the “breakfast special”!
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?
I became a Lasallian Volunteer because of my experiences with the Christian Brothers at Saint Mary’s College of California. Studying at a liberal arts college exposed me to prolific writers: St. Augustine, Miguel de Cervantes, and William Shakespeare; but, also it introduced me to the Christian Brothers. Despite living in a lavish campus, the Christian Brothers practiced humbleness by living simply and dedicating their efforts to the well-being of their students. For example, as a first generation college student, money was tight and college was daunting. The Brothers, notwithstanding, took it upon themselves to help me even though I did not request it of them. Their simple actions taught me the importance of unsolicited charitable action and humility. I learned the purpose of helping others is not for personal gratification, rather it’s supposed to enrich your neighbor’s life. After graduation, I understood the obligation to teach other communities the lessons the Brothers imparted upon me.
What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you?
My favorite and most important role is to be an encouraging adult for my students. They regularly experience stressful situations and have a limited network for positive reinforcement. Thus, encouragement inspires hope for them and provides motivation to overcome their academic and personal obstacles. I accomplish this by respecting my students and implementing our Lasallian virtues and traditions. St. John Baptist de La Salle said, “The more loving you are to the young, the greater the effects will be of God’s grace”. Even though I have the best students, there are moments when they jeopardize the learning process. These are the moments, which potentially, can be a learning lesson and are tremendously impressionable upon them. Rather than yell and condemn their actions, it is beneficial to help them realize the other positive actions. Adapting this approach showed me the relationship between respect and encouragement. Being able to respect an individual is a form of encouragement. Practicing respect takes the form of understanding their perspective. Thus, these episodes encourage them to choose the correct action and reinforce our commitment to serving the students.
Give an example of a time when you knew you were making a difference.
I’ve been fortunate to observe success while working for my students. Earlier in the year, I wrote about my experience as a volleyball coach. Even after the last whistle, the season’s results continue to blossom. The volleyball memories became a source of inspiration and motivation while uniting our community. My bond with the girls and their families strengthened after the season. I enjoy talking with their parents after school and reminiscing about the season while looking forward to the potential for the next season. The girls’ enthusiasm and unyielding attitude became contagious within the student body. As a result, this winter saw the revival of a basketball program for our young boys. I took pride in seeing the influence and impact our team had upon the San Miguel community.
Why would you recommend that a prospective donor contribute to Lasallian Volunteers?
Donating to the program is crucial in allowing us to serve at-risk communities and instill our Lasallian traditions. In addition to living with Christian Brothers, our program is unique because we engage with underrepresented communities and help them recognize God in themselves. As a middle school teacher, our program allows me to provide a rich foundation of inspiration and support for my students. De La Salle said, “Example makes a much greater impression on the minds and hearts of the young than do words. Young people…ordinarily model themselves on the example of their teachers. That your words may produce their full effect on your students, preach by example and practice what you wish them to accept.” Each donation presents current and future volunteers with opportunities to share our talents with students and communities. Your donation encourages students to pursue education and their dreams.