November: San Miguel High School

Our November Ministry of the Month highlights San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona, and is a part of the District of San Francisco New Orleans. Kelsey Morrisson is a first-year LV and a graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee.

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 service does Kelsey provide at San Miguel High School?

Kelsey is a member of the operations team at San Miguel High School. Her responsibilities revolve around student life and campus events. Her duties include working in the front office, keeping the virtual campus up to date, planning virtual activities and service projects for students, and hosting the few on-campus meetings and activities that they are able to have.

Why did Kelsey decide to become a Lasallian Volunteer?  

Kesley was introduced to the Lasallian Volunteers program through a friend and former LV. “I first became aware of the program when my friend, Theresa Havelka, joined upon her college graduation. Soon after, I had the opportunity to work alongside two Lasallian Scholars while interning in the Office of Advancement at my university,” she said. “These individuals inspired me to consider the program for myself. The idea of dedicating a year of my life to service seemed like a natural next step and a great way to continue the education and self-discovery I had started.”

While researching opportunities to pursue after graduation, she applied and was accepted to a different, international volunteer program. “My plans to volunteer in Cambodia were delayed due to the pandemic, and I found myself without a plan. Mere days after learning that I would not be going to Cambodia, I received an email from Katie Bauser, then-recruitment coordinator for Lasallian Volunteers, saying that there were still two positions available in the LV program. I took this as a sign that I was meant to be a part of Lasallian Volunteers.”

Which of the core values of faith, service and community are most important to Kelsey? 

Kelsey says that service is the most important core value to her at this point in her life. “So many wonderful people have served me over the past four years and now that I have been filled up, I feel the calling to pour myself out to others.”

What are the most challenging obstacles that Kelsey’s students face? How does her school and her own outreach empower them to overcome these obstacles?

A large percentage of Kelsey’s students faces obstacles that are associated with limited financial means. “Many of our students come from homes where secondary education has not been a possibility. Some of our students are the first in their household to graduate high school,” she said.

At San Miguel High School, students are offered a quality high school education that will prepare them to succeed in college. “In a society where job opportunities and financial security are often withheld from those without a college degree, young people are pushed toward secondary education without the financial means or guidance to succeed. Our Corporate Work-Study Program allows students to earn nearly 40% of their tuition while simultaneously earning professional work experience that will benefit them as they start college.”

What are some ways Kelsey has engaged with her students during COVID-19? 

The biggest part of Kelsey’s job is keeping the virtual campus updated for her students. “The virtual campus is a place where students can find online activities and opportunities to build community with their classmates while we are in this age of remote learning. While my interactions with students have been limited, I have been able to get to know them through our weekly contests, ‘pet cam’ features and Zoom game nights.”

How has Kelsey’s involvement with the Brothers changed her? 

Kelsey is the only volunteer in Tucson, and the only volunteer in the San Francisco New Orleans District, and because of that she has had a lot of one-on-one involvement with the Brothers in her community. “While the past few months of living with the Brothers has already changed some of my household habits like washing my dishes right away instead of letting them sit and folding my laundry instead of letting it hang out in the dryer, it has also initiated some more meaningful changes. Living with the Brothers has made me consider the core value of community much more deeply than I have in the past. I appreciate the ways the Brothers have supported me since moving to Tucson, and I have been encouraged to look for significant ways I can support them and play a meaningful role in community.”

What would Kelsey say to a college senior who was discerning a volunteer year?  

“In the words of my community member Brother Jack Henderson, ‘You have nothing to lose by trying it out. I lost nothing and gained everything. How’s that?’”

She would also share with prospective volunteers, that they are about to graduate college and have their whole lives ahead of them. “Instead of jumping into a job that will tie you down for a few years or immediately pursuing a graduate degree, why not take the opportunity to practice the Lasallian principles that you have spent the past four years learning about? You will lose nothing from dedicating a year to serving others, living in community, and learning more about yourself and will be better off for it.”

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