This month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month” is San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona, which is part of the District of San Francisco New Orleans. Jo-Ann Mullooly, a second-year Lasallian Volunteer (LV) and a graduate of Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, and Jaclyn Ross, a first-year LV, and a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, find joy in their students, faith and living in community with their Brothers.
WHAT IS SAN MIGUEL HIGH SCHOOL?
San Miguel High School opened in 2004 to create a learning community where students from families of limited financial means have the opportunity to develop to their full potential, regardless of religious affiliation. A Cristo Rey Network school sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, San Miguel celebrated its first graduating class in 2008. Most graduates will be the first in their family to complete high school and therefore the first to attend college. At San Miguel, students take a full college preparatory course load while simultaneously holding professional internships, working in corporations and earning nearly 40 percent of their school tuition. The Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) at San Miguel provides the important link between academic and career goals. Students are involved in meaningful work experiences and learn job skills that are transferable to other settings. They develop relationships with professionals who serve as mentors. These experiences allow students to focus on their educational and career goals, which require both long-range planning and personal sacrifice.
WHAT SERVICES DO JO-ANN AND JACLYN PROVIDE AT SAN MIGUEL HIGH SCHOOL?
Jo-Ann serves as the director of Lasallian Youth, the director of the Help and Study Skills (HASS) & elective programs, and is the co-director of the choir at San Miguel. Jo-Ann describes her service by saying, “The student support roles are perfect for me because I wanted to be able to impact students directly. This allows me to communicate with students every single day, and that’s what makes this experience as great as it is.” Jaclyn serves as the El Otro Lado coordinator and the attendance project manager. Jaclyn says of her roles at San Miguel, “Both of my roles have helped me to get to know students quickly, and I like to think how genuinely happy I am to see them each morning offers a daily reminder that San Miguel is their home, and their family here truly loves and cares for them.”
HOW DID JACLYN AND JO-ANN BECOME LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?
For Jo-Ann, her journey was more linear to become an LV. She attended Manhattan College, and experienced a service trip through the Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E) program that shaped her views on post graduate service. She says, “I had a moment of realization that everything I wanted for my life after graduation could be summed up by seeking faith, service and community. I wanted to work in various educational settings across the country and be exposed to all kinds of learners from all kinds of backgrounds in order to be the most effective educator I can be.” Jaclyn’s journey was a bit different and shows the power of invitation. She says, “One of my mentors recommended I look into the LV program. I didn’t know anyone who’d been an LV, so over the next few months I didn’t look very far into that option. That is, until I visited a friend of mine at Boston College. While I was there I met Gabbi Carroll, LV 15-16, who was wearing a Lasallian Volunteers jacket, and it was the first time I was able to talk to someone about their experience. We had such a great conversation that day that I decided I would apply. After talking to Steven Patzke, LV 14-15, he helped me recognize that out of everything I’d applied to, talking about Lasallian Volunteers was what gave me that burning desire I’ve come to recognize as a call.”
HOW DO JO-ANN AND JACLYN TOUCH MINDS AND HEARTS OF STUDENTS AT SAN MIGUEL HIGH SCHOOL?
Jo-Ann speaks very passionately about her ability to be present with her students and be someone that they can relate to as a young woman of faith. She says, “My students, especially the juniors and seniors, have gravitated toward me as a young person of faith. Many of them are beginning to think about life after high school, and they come to me with their concerns. Students just started gravitating to my office to visit. I felt like I was providing a relaxing, safe environment for students, and I soon realized they just enjoyed spending time with me. I recently asked one student what drew her to Lasallian Youth in the first place, and she responded with, ‘I heard you were cool and give good advice.’ I never eat lunch alone, because students are always visiting then! I am extremely grateful for the relationships I have formed with them, and I am so glad to be a part of their high school experience.” Jaclyn’s work with El Otro Lado informs her answer. She says, “Because of my work with El Otro Lado, many students have found my office as a place to start their journey in becoming advocates. It’s also become the only place on campus where some students have felt comfortable enough to reveal their own struggles with deportations in their families. Other students want to take part in El Otro Lado to better understand what their parent’s experience crossing the desert was like. And with the organizations and ministries that we’re affiliated with, I’ve been able to give students legal resources after having a family member detained by ICE. We primarily run an educational program, but I don’t believe we’re simply educating, we’re empowering.”
HOW HAS LIVING AND WORKING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED JO-ANN AND JACLYN?
Living in community with Brothers was Jaclyn’s first experience of them. She says, “The Brothers have taught me how hard it is to be holy. Granted, it was never something that I thought would be easy! But living in a religious community has challenged me to gracefully and kindly accept the shortcomings of others as they simultaneously push me to overcome my shortcomings too. They may have the title “Brother” in front of their names, but they are just as good and imperfect as anyone else. And while I may have “Lasallian Volunteer” after my name, it in no way means I am a perfect servant. And they still love me, and they still see the good in me. They’ve taught me how to be a better educator and how to take these things I know and make it easier for my students to understand.” Jo-Ann says of living with the Brothers, “I became close with a few of the Brothers at the Manhattan College when I was a student, but living with them is a whole different experience. Community is family. You see the best and the worst of everyone, you share in each other’s triumphs and sorrows, and you are afforded the opportunity to learn so much as everyone is coming from a different place, literally and figuratively. The Brothers have taught me not to be afraid to share myself, and we accept one another unconditionally. They are consistently showing me the importance of trusting and relying on others. This mission is done best with the love of community.”
WHAT WOULD JACLYN AND JO-ANN SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS DISCERNING A YEAR SPENT WITH THE LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?
The volunteers are grateful for their time in the program. Jo-Ann says, “Lasallian Volunteers changes you, immensely and undoubtedly, for the best. This experience is hugely beneficial for everyone, personally and professionally. I think the willingness to jump into new environments has many advantages for everyone, not just those that are interested in education. LVs meet many individuals during their service experience that are willing to walk with you as you discern your life’s purpose. It’s a great experience that pushes you to grow in faith, service and community. I am exiting the program a far more mature, agile and grateful person than I was before the LV program.” Jaclyn echoes this when she says, “I would say to be honest with yourself – are you truly open to wherever He is calling you? Is there somewhere your heart is leaning towards? What are the reasons for that? Look back at the paths that brought you here. I guarantee that in your deepest heart you’ll recognize it when it comes to you.”