FORMER JESUIT VOLUNTEERS

 

As a JV, you had the courage to take on some of the world’s most uncomfortable challenges. You brought your integrity, faith and unflinching resolve, and JVC helped you discover how to put them to work for life. 

 

FJV Profiles

Our greatest impact can be seen in the thousands of Former Jesuit Volunteers living and working around the world.

Here are just a few of the over 10,000 Former Jesuit Volunteers, transformed by their JVC experience, committed to a life of putting their faith into action.

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  • Former JV Profiles
  • Local Chapters
  • Previous Program Years
  • Brittany Anderson
    Brittany Anderson
    Mobile, AL
  • Jaclyn Paul
    Jaclyn Paul
    San Antonio, TX
  • Karl Koch
    Karl Koch
    Tucson, AZ
  • Meredith Cocker
    Meredith Cocker
    Camden, NJ
  • Jillian DeFina
    Jillian DeFina
    Scranton, PA
  • Jack Borkovich
    Jack Borkovich
    New Orleans, LA
  • Liz Connelly
    Liz Connelly
    Scranton, PA
  • Katie Athis
    Katie Athis
    Nashville, TN
  • An Bui
    An Bui
    Newark, NJ
  • Rhea Bautista
    Rhea Bautista
    Detroit, MI
  • Andrew Lynch
    Andrew Lynch
    Syracuse, NY
  • Ryan Knott
    Ryan Knott
    Dodoma, Tanzania
  • Hannah Parry
    Hannah Parry
    Portland, ME
  • Christie Alonso
    Christie Alonso
    Tacna, Peru
  • Shane Garner
    Shane Garner
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Caitlin Healey
    Caitlin Healey
    Syracuse, NY
  • Ryan Majsak
    Ryan Majsak
    San Francisco, CA
  • Cami Kasmerchak
    Cami Kasmerchak
    San Jose, CA
  • Sean O’Malley
    Sean O’Malley
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Kharisma Goldston
    Kharisma Goldston
    Philadelphia, PA
  • Markus Creachbaum
    Markus Creachbaum
    Kansas City, MO
  • Teya Deleveaux
    Teya Deleveaux
    St. Louis, MO
  • Jessica Donahue
    Jessica Donahue
    Minneapolis/Twin Cities
  • Olivia Pappas
    Olivia Pappas
    Boston, MA
  • Jace Prokupek
    Jace Prokupek
    New York City
  • Philip Ellefson
    Philip Ellefson
    Milwaukee, WI
  • Scott Santarosa, SJ
    Scott Santarosa, SJ
    California Province of the Jesuits
  • Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz
    Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz
    Co-Directors of Casa de La Solidaridad
  • Bob Casey
    Bob Casey
    U.S. Senator, D-PA
  • Beth Arnone
    Beth Arnone
    Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • AnnMaura Connolly
    AnnMaura Connolly
    Chief Strategy Officer, City Year
  • Steve Katsouros, S.J.
    Steve Katsouros, S.J.
    Executive Director, Arrupe College
  • Jody Kent Lavy
    Jody Kent Lavy
    Director and National Coordinator, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
  • Lesly D’Ambola
    Lesly D’Ambola
    Medical Director, St. Luke's Catholic Medical Services in Camden, NJ
  • Matt McGarry
    Matt McGarry
    Country Representative for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, Catholic Relief Services
  • Paul Freeman
    Paul Freeman
    Clinical Nurse Leader Student & Oncology Certified RN, Marquette University
  • Jeff Thielman
    Jeff Thielman
    President, International Institute of New England
  • Tom Mulloy
    Tom Mulloy
    Office of Domestic Social Development United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Colleen Fitzgerald
    Colleen Fitzgerald
    Child Protection Case Management Coaching Program, International Rescue Committee
  • Dr. Ronald Willy
    Dr. Ronald Willy
    Radiologist, U.S. Navy
  • British Robinson
    British Robinson
    Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Heart Alliance
  • Elizabeth Maziarka
    Elizabeth Maziarka
    Medical Director, Urgent Care Department at the Codman Square Health Center
  • Monica Márquez
    Monica Márquez
    Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court
  • Susan Collins
    Susan Collins
    Chief of Staff Office of U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez
  • Scott Early
    Scott Early
    Chief Medical Officer Lynn Community Health Center
  • Troy Thayer
    Troy Thayer
    Santa Monica, CA
  • Megan Elman
    Megan Elman
    Raleigh, NC
  • Veronica Solorio
    Veronica Solorio
    Tucson, AZ
  • Patrick Decker
    Patrick Decker
    Punta Gorda, Belize
  • Michael Fowler
    Michael Fowler
    Oakland, CA
  • Emily Hagen
    Emily Hagen
    Pohnpei, Micronesia
  • Benjamin Moses Hill
    Benjamin Moses Hill
    Andahuaylillas, Peru
  • Victoria Nguyen Hoang
    Victoria Nguyen Hoang
    Dodoma, Tanzania
  • Matthew Boughton
    Matthew Boughton
    Houston, TX
  • MC Larme
    MC Larme
    San Jose, CA
Brittany Anderson
Mobile, AL

Brittany Anderson

Team Member, L’Arche Mobile
Stonehill College 2014
Major: Psychology
Fun Fact: Competed as a speed skater as a child. Think Apolo Anton Ohno!


What drew you to JVC?

I met a recruiter at my college and upon hearing about the way community, social justice, spirituality, and simple living meet in JVC, I decided I had to apply.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

Anything artistic! I love to paint, take photos, knit, color, or collage. I feel at peace when I’m being creative and feel like I’m not fully myself when these aren’t a part of my daily life. I need that release.


Who is your role model and why?

My mom, Lisa. She is a strong, loving, funny, and dedicated woman. I strive every day to love with my whole heart like she does.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

The most rewarding part of my position at L’Arche is community life. I come to work every day to see twenty loving individuals and I get to share my life and love with them. What could be better than that?


How did you choose your major?

My degree is in psychology and it didn’t start off that way. I entered college intending to become a teacher and realized quickly that I loved getting to know people more than I wanted to educate them. Psychology is a combination of interaction and connection that provides the basis to work with individuals in a counseling or leadership position.


What clubs, sports, activities or organizations were you involved in during college?

I participated heavily in Campus Ministry with retreats, service, reflections, choir, and ministry roles. I also danced on a hip-hop step team.

Jaclyn Paul
San Antonio, TX

Jaclyn Paul

Youth Minister, Seton Home
University of Notre Dame 2015
Major: Sociology
Fun Fact: Parks and Recreation and Friends make her laugh.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I feel like I don’t have a lot of free time between work and community life in JVC! When I do find some free time, I like to read or spend time with people exploring new places. I also like to cook or bake new things.


How would your friends or family describe you?

An outgoing, caring person who has a unique laugh. My community members tell me that I ask a lot of questions when I meet people.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

My work at Seton Home has grown my passion for working with children who are trying to navigate the difficult and complicated Child Protectives Services. In my experiences, these children are trying to find an advocate or have to be an advocate for themselves in a system that is set up for them to be numbers rather than people.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

The most rewarding (and challenging) part of my JVC position is that I never have a day that I know completely what to expect. Working with teenage girls and babies all day leads to a lot of unexpected twists and turns which is fun, yet can be exhausting.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

I wish people knew how diverse the people in JVC are. In my wonderful community, we have seven very unique, beautiful souls who each bring something to the table. The commonality between us all is our passion for social justice.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college and how did this lead you to JVC?

I had the opportunity to serve at a Children’s Home in South Africa through the University of Notre Dame’s International Summer Service Learning Program. I was tasked with teaching, tutoring, and playing with the children at the home. It opened my eyes to the difficulties that children have when they are unable to grow up in a ‘typical’ family structure. The experience led me to explore full-time post-grad service opportunities and JVC!

Karl Koch
Tucson, AZ

Karl Gregory Koch

Garden Coordinator, St. John the Evangelist Catholic School
Xavier University 2015
Major: Philosophy, Politics, & the Public
Fun Fact: Coerces his community into doing yoga for beginners on our rooftop, much to the shock of the neighbors.


What drew you to JVC?

The prospect of living a year intentionally in a radically new environment. My younger self enjoyed many make-believe adventures, and now I have an opportunity to live that out as an adult. JVC is a chance to live outside myself, simply and progressively.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

Gardening. Aside from being my job, I find it rewarding to spend time outdoors under the sun. Humans have fed themselves for thousands of years through manual labor, and I enjoy keeping in touch with that spirit.


How would your friends or family describe you?

I hope they would describe me as curious. I consider curiosity to be the most important driving force in my life.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

Food justice. It’s fascinating to me how complex food systems evolve over time, and yet we can’t manage to distribute food equitably in the 21st century. I’m interested in the tension in providing affordable, healthy, and ethical food.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Discovering those students who genuinely enjoy spending time in the garden, even when that means pulling weeds in the Arizona heat. They remind me to hold on to that sense of childlike wonder.


How did you choose your major? And how did it lead you to JVC?

I studied in the Philosophy, Politics, & the Public program. The interdisciplinary major appealed to my tendency to jump from topic to topic without covering the ground in between. The program instilled in me a desire to lead a life of civic engagement, and this challenge led me to JVC.

Meredith Cocker
Camden, NJ

Meredith Cocker

Arrupe Fellow, Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School
Gonzaga University 2015
Major: Psychology
Fun Fact: Not uncommon to see fer falling out of her chair laughing about something one of her housemates said.


What drew you to JVC??

I actually had a dream about JVC which kick-started my process of applying, but I also had friends at Gonzaga who were applying and I liked the idea of having an opportunity to explore a new area of ministry while living with a group of people who were going through something similar.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

Before JVC, I would have told you that I like to read, rock climb, and play guitar. Although I still like all of those things, I spend most of my spare time hanging out with my housemates and friends I’ve made this year. I love it because I’ve realized this year how essential relationships and conversation (and the opportunity to be silly) are to my happiness.


Who is your role model and why?

One who has come to mind a lot this year is Ryan Miller. He is the pastor of the church I attended during college. I admire that he is willing to explore challenging topics in church and that he is able to create dialogue around differing beliefs with grace, respect, and authenticity.


What might people be surprised to know about you?

People who have met me this year might be surprised to know that in college I was working towards a career in Forensic Psychology–I even interned with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. But people who met me during college might be surprised to know that I’m headed in the direction of Campus Ministry now.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

I recently finished directing the last of our five freshman overnight retreats, and that opportunity was the most rewarding so far. It was such a gift to watch the freshmen participate in activities which helped them to understand that their classmates all have unique stories and struggles, and to watch them begin to understand that they’re not alone.


What clubs, sports, activities or organizations were you involved in during college?

My freshman year, I got involved as a mentor for a program called Eye to Eye and later became a student coordinator for the program. I was also involved in an improv group called Gonzaga University Theater Sports (GUTS) and I led and participated in retreats and small groups through University Ministry.

Jillian DeFina
Scranton, PA

Jillian DeFina

Volunteer Coordinator and Food Pantry Organizer, St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen
Neumann University 2015
Major: Psychology; Youth Ministry Minor
Fun Fact: I was a member of the Neumann University Field Hockey team


What drew you to JVC??

JVC allows me to put my faith into action in many different ways. Whether it’s through leading a spirituality night for my community or showing compassion to one of my clients, this experience has shaped not only my faith life but who I am as a person in ways I didn’t know were possible. There is no better way to find yourself than to lose yourself in the service of others.


What social justice are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about feeding our hungry and homeless brothers and sisters. This world has more than enough food to feed everyone in it and the fact that there are hungry people infuriates me.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

The most rewarding thing about working at the kitchen is the relationships I develop each day with both the volunteers and clients. I have never seen the face of God in people more profoundly than I do here; it’s truly an honor to be of service to them in any way possible. They have forever changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.


What did you get your degree in? How and why did you choose your major?

I was a psychology major with a double minor in theology and youth ministry. I knew at a young age that I wanted to help people, and through my time at Neumann my desire to be a psychologist shifted to becoming a campus minister.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college?

Going on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi to follow the lives of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. During that experience I realized I wanted to become a campus minister and walk with other students in their faith journeys.

Jack Borkovich
New Orleans, LA

Jack Borkovich

Resident Activities Coordinator, Project Lazarus
The University of Georgia 2015
Major: Microbiology
Fun Fact: Can quote every line in Remember the Titans.


Who is your role model and why?

The late director at the University of Georgia Catholic Center: Father Tom Vigliotta, OFM. Father Tom had a fiery passion for justice that was tempered with an easy smile and a quick wit. In the spirit of his order’s patron, St. Francis, he took great delight in the joy of the Gospel that he found in nature and in all people. He set my heart on fire for others, and I would not be where I am now without his guidance. Our friendship reminds me to strive to erase the margins of society, and do so with joy and a good sense of humor. I’d like to think that he’s proud of the path I’ve chosen, but playfully rolling his eyes somewhere at the thought of me working in the spirit of the Jesuits.


What makes you laugh?

My community is hilarious. We are constantly teasing each other about Beyonce and “small grease fires.” When people think about justice work, they often forget to laugh. I think this is a mistake. Inside jokes, ridiculous stories, and Chris Farley SNL reruns have become a pillar of my JVC experience and have kept me joyful in my work..


What social justice are you most passionate about?

Equal access to healthcare is something I’ve grown passionate about this year. Being healthy ought to be a right, not a privilege. I’m witnessing what it means to be medically underserved, and what it looks like to not have access to healthcare, and I hope to help further fight this issue in the future..


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Each of the residents at Project Lazarus has taught me something about myself, New Orleans, or justice issues. Developing these relationships, while learning and growing alongside the residents has been the best part of my JV year.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC not just for graduates of Catholic schools. JVC is not just for people who have been fighting social injustices their whole lives. JVC is not just for Catholics, or Christians for that matter. JVC is for the big-hearted and for the dreamers who refuse to accept the world for what it is and dare to do something about it. I’m fortunate enough to live in the shadows of giants in the New Orleans community, and I’m learning every day what it means to be a JV. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Liz Connelly
Scranton, PA

Liz Connelly

Community Health Program Assistant, United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA
Santa Clara University 2015
Major: Theater Arts (with minor in Biology)
Fun Fact: Loves bad science jokes.


What drew you to JVC?

During my junior year at SCU I realized I was not ready to jump directly to medical school after graduation. I began researching post-grad opportunities and found JVC. It provided the perfect opportunity to spend a year living in an intentional space where I could serve others, travel, learn and be provided the support and encouragement I needed to figure out my next step.


How would your friends or family describe you?

I texted my dad this question and his response was, “committed, kind, smart, organized, joyful (except in the morning) and a little goofy sometimes.” Thanks Dad.


What makes you laugh?

The TV shows New Girl & Friends always make me laugh. I also love when it is party day and the senior center below my office and they play the Cupid Shuffle.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about issues of access to and distribution of health care resources. My placement’s mission is “Bridging the Gap to Health & Wellness,” and every day we work to remove barriers that keep people from receiving the care they need. It has been overwhelming to recognize the quantity of barriers that our system creates. It has also been empowering, especially as someone intending to become a physician, to more fully understand where our systems are lacking and what solutions could exist.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

It is not a year-long summer camp. I assumed JVC would feel like a year of camp or a never-ending retreat with rules and schedules and some “JVC police” holding me accountable. In reality my year with JVC has been what my community and I have made it to be. In some ways this is easier; in a lot of ways it’s the biggest challenge.

Katie Athis
Nashville, TN

Katie Athis

Street Outreach Case Manager, The Oasis Center
Seattle University 2015
Major: International Studies


What drew you to JVC?

I was drawn to JVC because of the stories of friends who have been JVs. They told me how challenging but rewarding their experience was. I now know how true that is.


How would your friends or family describe you?

Goofy, fun-loving, positive, people-oriented, independent, and stubborn. I have never noticed these traits more than when I began JVC. Being in a new city with completely new people has taught me so much about what I value and how people perceive my personality. I feel grateful for this new perspective on how I approach relationships.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

Before starting this position, I don’t know if I would have said combating youth homelessness was my passion. Now, I know for certain that it is. Because of the wonderful people I have met in this position, I will always work to make sure youth have a warm, safe place to sleep at night.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I like to listen to music and explore my surroundings. Nashville is dubbed “Music City” so there is never a shortage of free shows and talented people around every corner. Nashville is also incredibly beautiful, so I like going on new running routes to explore my neighborhood.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

It would take me pages and pages to write about the joys that come with each day. However, the part I enjoy the most is getting to know each person as an individual. It is too easy to label and lump into the category of “homeless young person” and forget about other aspects of their being in this world. The most rewarding part for me is building trust and creating a safe space for them.

An Bui
Newark, NJ

An Bui

Youth Advocate, Covenant House
University of California, Los Angeles 2015
Major: English
Fun Fact: Finds showering, brushing her teeth, and packing for travel incredibly tedious (but she wishes to thrive in society, so does take time [albeit not much]
to maintain good hygiene)


What makes you laugh?

What really cracks me up are silly jokes or when someone just keeps on laughing. Did you know laughter is contagious? Ha ha ha HA! Did you catch it?


 What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about LGBTQ+, race, social class, and mental health issues. These issues affect me in a personal way, so I’m striving to learn more and become a better advocate for myself and others, especially those who don’t have the opportunity and privilege to do so for themselves.


 What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

It is a challenging space to be in. It’s challenging if you don’t fit the status quo (Catholic, Jesuit College Alumni, White, Heterosexual, Middle Class), challenging if you and your community mates just can’t communicate, challenging to balance serving the homeless by day but returning to your comfy bed by night, challenging to be hundreds of miles away from home and your loved ones, and in many more ways. It encompasses so much more than what people typically assume of a “year of volunteer service.”


 What was the most inspiring experience you had in college and how did this lead you to JVC?

During my sophomore year I saw my Primary Care physician, and as she inquired about my health, I started to cry. With the most caring voice, she asked why I was crying as she handed me tissues, and I told her I get emotional when I talk about problems I have. As the conversation went on, she firmly looked in my eyes and told me that I deserve to be happy. That was the first time anyone had ever told me that, and it was cathartic. After that I started going to counseling and focusing more on my mental health.
This led me to JVC because I wanted to spread the message to all those I encounter that they deserve to be happy, especially those who have been told all their life that they are not good enough.

Rhea Bautista
Detroit, MI

Rhea Cristine Bautista

Community Involvement Coordinator, Neighborhood Service Organization
University  of San Francisco 2015
Major: Architecture and Community Design
Fun Fact: Recently discovered she’s allergic to wool, which is a bummer because she is experiencing her first winter weather.


What do you like to do in your spare time and why do you enjoy doing it?

Trying and seeing new things is my most important self-care practice because there’s so much to learn about others and one’s self. I especially enjoy exploring Detroit because it is full of history and new opportunities. Detroit may not have the greatest reputation, but I’ve fallen in love with its unique characteristics.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

Homelessness and gentrification. Housing is a human right and everyone should have access to a safe, affordable home. Instead of gentrifying the community, social and economic development should benefit the locals. Displacing people can destroy community, the livelihood and the richness of place present in the neighborhood.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college?  How did this lead you to JVC?

The most inspiring experience was when I traveled to the Philippines for my architecture thesis and visited an informal settlement called Payatas. Payatas is known to be a garbage dump. During my stay, I realized the sense of community there is so strong, despite their living conditions. This experience has inspired me to take an asset-based approach when interacting with others, in which I learn from the community and build on the strengths they already have.


 

Andrew Lynch
Syracuse, NY

Andrew Lynch

Community Health Advocate, ACR Health
University  of Michigan 2015
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Fun Fact: Kid President brightens every day of his life.


Who is your role model and why?

I’m fortunate to call many people role models, but Trey Boynton has been on my mind this year. She is the director of the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs at The University of Michigan. Her example has imparted two essential lessons: positive leadership is essential to creating authentic, lasting change; and we should be able to discuss social identity as readily as we discuss the weather.


What makes you laugh?

Most things make me laugh; my faith is deeply joyful. Our world is afflicted by deeply entrenched injustices, but whenever I interact with someone (even those I passionately disagree with), I cannot help but be grateful for them.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

Equitable access to healthcare (including nutritious food and shelter) and educational opportunities are the only long-term investments that will create a better tomorrow. The lack of comprehensive sexual education illustrates the intersectionality of these issues: addressing the power and privilege historically present in sexual relationships would go a long way towards raising a generation that is confident in themselves and understands consent.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

I love my position most of all for the people I work with. I’ve been so humbled by the stories entrusted to me and the selflessness of our amazing volunteers. I also get to educate the community about sexual health, tech literacy, and food access; I couldn’t ask for a better fit.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

You are welcome in JVC whether you are deeply religious or do not practice any religion. Volunteers draw motivation from their faith, but each volunteer has a different experience in what “faith” means. I am personally not in JVC because of my Catholic upbringing, but rather a need to work for justice.


 

Ryan Knott
Dodoma, Tanzania

Ryan Knott

Teacher, St. Peter Claver High School
Marquette University  2014
Major: German, with a minor in Philosophy
Fun Fact: At age five won a contest to name the mascot of a minor league hockey team


What drew you to JVC?

JVC is a formational experience with spirituality and community at its core. I was drawn to this because other programs offer the opportunity to volunteer without these aspects. From my experience, these qualities in service and life make for a better, but often harder, experience that is much more rewarding and life-giving.


Who is your role model and why?

My students – they are so willing to teach me about their lives and culture.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Becoming part of a place and peoples’ lives. We JVs have the unique opportunity to integrate into the community and feel at home here in Dodoma. Just as rewarding is being shaped by my new home and friends with ideas and experiences I’ll always carry with me.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

The life of a volunteer isn’t only hard work and sacrifice—however important that may be—it’s also a lot of fun! Sharing life with new people in a new culture is remarkably difficult but it also lends itself for the chance to share remarkable joy.


What is the most inspiring experience you had in college and how did it lead you to JVC?

My service-learning semester in Cape Town, South Africa inspired and challenged me to look beyond myself and to work and learn for and with others. I sought to deepen my experience of culture and life with JVC’s international program and I’m grateful for the chance to have returned to the African continent to walk with and learn from people in a new way.


 

Hannah Parry
Portland, ME

Hannah Parry

Food Programs Assistant Manager, Preble Street
Saint Joseph’s University  2015
Major: Philosophy
Fun Fact: Plans to go to medical school to become a physician after JVC (even though she studied philosophy in college)!


What drew you to JVC?

At Saint Joseph’s University, community service is a common extracurricular activity. I met some of my best friends through service activities, and wanted to foster a similar community post-graduation. JVC was a way for me to jump start my professional life as a woman with and for others with a community of likeminded individuals.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

Portland is a beautiful city, and its surrounding areas are spectacular. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my new state by hiking and camping on the weekends!


How would your friends and family describe you?

My friends and family would describe me as thoughtful and determined. My discernment process leading up to JVC was extended, and I have been dedicated to being the best I can be and giving the most I can give throughout this experience.


What makes you laugh?

Food puns! I’ve never seen so much food in my life. Preble Street is armed with the resources to serve 1200 meals a day–do you know how mushroom that takes up?!


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Every day that I leave work, I am satisfied knowing that I have fed hundreds of people going hungry in Portland. Although the work is physically and emotionally demanding, we provide a service that our clients literally could not survive without. It is rewarding to be able to work so closely with an issue I am passionate about.


Why did you choose your college major?

I took the science classes required to apply to medical school, but I was passionate about philosophy as a unique discipline–one that forced me to think about human existence and the human condition, rather than just the scientific explanations of those phenomena.


 

Christie Alonso
Tacna, Peru

Christie Alonso

Teacher, San Jose Fe y Alegria primary school
Spring Hill College  2014
Major: Early Childhood Education
Fun Fact: Is her best self while dancing; it brings her profound joy and refuels her


Why did you choose your major?

My mom is a Spanish teacher and growing up my brothers and I would be her helpers after school. I’ve always loved working with the little ones, using creativity, and wanted a profession in which I could serve others. Being a teacher was the perfect combination of those things.


What activities were you involved in during college?

I taught Zumba classes weekly, was President of the Students for Life Club, a member of the SHAPE retreat team and served with the International Service Immersion Program in Kingston, Jamaica and Managua, Nicaragua.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college?

I was inspired to accept myself and be my best self during my sophomore year in college. That spring, I lost all of my hair to alopecia universalis and since then I have grown. I have grown to love myself as I am, to embrace the flaws, and to be able to give in abundance from that.


Who is your role model and why?

My grandfather Reinaldo is the hero in my family. His courage and resilience is something I strive for. He was a political prisoner in Cuba and escaped to freedom on a small boat. He later risked being recaptured by returning to Cuba to bring my grandmother’s family to freedom. He was entregado a Dios and devoted to Our Lady of Charity, and it was exemplified in the way he lived each day.


How would your friends and family describe you?

A gentle dancing spirit con corazón


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about the pro-life movement and upholding the sanctity of life at all stages. I believe social justice begins in the womb.


 What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

Embracing the unknown and jumping into the uncomfortable is one of the most beautiful ways to encounter God. JVC provides an incredible formation that supports you in-country and fosters a glorious growth.


Shane Garner
Los Angeles, CA

Shane Garner

Resource Specialist, St. Francis Center
College of the Holy Cross  2015
Major: English
Fun Fact: Doesn’t laugh too often


What drew you to JVC?

As I approached the midway point of my senior year, I sort of remembered that I needed to find a job after graduation. However, I really had no idea what I wanted to do (a stance my parents weren’t too eager to hear). Cue JVC – which offered me a yearlong opportunity to work a fulfilling job, grow in my faith and live in a loving community that challenges me every day.

 


Who is your role model and why?

Each member of my family presents something I strive for: My mother instilled in me the importance of having faith in something bigger than myself. My father showed me the importance of hard work, integrity and being true to one’s roots. My older brother is a better, funnier and shorter version than myself who taught me the importance of embracing people for their quirks and shortcomings. And my little sister inspires me each day to move forward despite setbacks and difficulties I may encounter.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

My roommates would argue that it is the fact that I have the shortest commute to work, but in reality it is the ability to put names and stories to individuals in the homeless community. It can be easy to make broad, derogatory assumptions of how individuals find themselves homeless and I am thankful for the opportunity to more intimately understand the reasons people become homeless.


What clubs, sports, activities, or organizations were you involved in during college?

For two years I played on the varsity soccer team. I use the term ‘played’ lightly because I was most often found not on the field, but firmly rooted to the bench. After an early ‘retirement,’ I became much more engaged in service and campus ministry opportunities. I particularly enjoyed helping out in a local kindergarten class and participating in Spring Break Immersion trips.


Caitlin Healey
Syracuse, NY

Caitlin Healey

Refugee Youth Worker, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County
Fairfield University  2015
Major: Politics and economics, with a minor in Spanish
Fun Fact: Syracuse is the farthest west she has ever been.


What drew you to JVC?

My strong Jesuit education at Fairfield drew me to JVC. The lessons I learned at Fairfield aligned well with the mission of JVC.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I love the beach because I find the ocean very peaceful and relaxing. I also enjoy reading and watching Gilmore Girls for the eighteenth time in a row.


What makes you laugh?

The kids at my site placement make me laugh the hardest. Recently, we were in the car and “Hello” by Adele came on and they responded to the song by saying “hi” whenever Adele sang the actual word “hello.”


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

My students are easily the most rewarding part of my position. They are genuinely excited to be here in the United States and excited to be learning.


What clubs, sports, activities, or organizations were you involved in during college?

I was involved in the Kairos retreat program at Fairfield and was co-director of the program my senior year. Other activities included service-learning and volunteering with Head Start.


Ryan Majsak
San Francisco, CA

Ryan Majsak

Law Clerk, Eviction Defense Collaborative
University of Notre Dame  2015
Major: Accounting and Psychology
Fun Fact: Was a member of the Men’s Boxing Club in college, participating in an annual charity boxing tournament to raise money to support the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I really like exploring cities and doing outdoor activities. I love hiking because of the physical exertion and the eventual reward of an incredible view. Hiking also is a form of prayer for me, as I am able to appreciate the natural wonders around me and the God that created them. Luckily, the Bay Area provides for endless areas, neighborhoods, and parks to wander and appreciate.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Unlike the typical corporate jobs that I would have started if I hadn’t joined JVC, through my placement helping low-income tenants fight their evictions, I have the opportunity to make significant positive impact on others’ lives every day. The victories are wonderful and the defeats can be crushing, but the involvement allows me to feel intense emotions and put my whole self into my work. This is both a rewarding and challenging opportunity.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

There are fantastic people involved with JVC. From my incredible roommates to the other West Coast JVs I met at Orientation, it is refreshing to see, as JVC’s mission statement says, “passionate young people…fostering the growth of leaders committed to faith in action.”


How and why did you choose your college and majors?

I went to Notre Dame because I loved its Catholic character, the strong academics, and the well-rounded student body. I picked accounting because it was a skill that I could apply to many different business jobs and studied psychology because I loved studying how the mind works and how it influences human behavior.


Cami Kasmerchak
San Jose, CA

Cami Kasmerchak

Assistant Director of Christian Service and Campus Ministry, Cristo Rey San Jose High School
Saint Louis University  2015
Major: Economics
Fun Fact: Bungee jumped off a bridge in South Africa during study abroad


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I spend my free time writing letters, exploring with my community, and reflecting.  Writing letters has always been one of my most treasured pastimes.  I think there is something about sharing thoughts with friends and family that we know will not reach them immediately.  Exploring San Jose and Santa Clara with my community has brought about many bouts of laughter, some shared sighs, and plenty of stories.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Seeing the same 250 students walk through the doors each morning.  We see each other at our best and at less than our best.  We grow together, learn from one another, and slowly share our stories with each other.  The opportunity to be a positive, enthusiastic, and passionate role model for the students keeps me coming back.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC is not just a year or two of service, but a chance to practice living with intentionality among a group of individuals committed to doing the same.  After this year life will not “return to normal” for me.  This year I plan to explore ways of living simply, building community, loving unconditionally, fighting injustices, and deepening my spirituality that will continue for the rest of my life.  Completing a year in JVC is not the goal, but rather the catalyst.  It is the chance for a beginning to a life lived in service of others.


What clubs, sports, activities, or organizations were you involved in during college?

Campus Ministry was a sanctuary on campus that allowed me to connect with spiritual mentors and other students in vulnerable and challenging ways.  Participating in the International Student Ambassador program gave me the opportunity to welcome international students to campus, provide assistance in their time of transition, and create friendships.  College was a time to explore, be adventurous, and try new things.  With this attitude I found myself hosting a show on our campus’ KSLU radio station, joining the Jesuit Honor Society, and dancing on SLU’s Korean-Pop dance team Cherry Crush.


Sean O’Malley
Los Angeles, CA

Sean O’Malley

Family Self Sufficiency Case Manager, St. Joseph Center
Rockhurst University  2014
Major: Global Economics
Fun Fact: Makes a mean PB&J


What drew you to JVC?

The appeal of the JVC stems from my desire to use the knowledge and skills acquired at Rockhurst University for the betterment of others. I was drawn of the prospect of love and self-sacrifice being the focus of each day. JVC offers people an adventure rooted in deeds, intellect, community and social justice. What’s not to love?


Who is your role model and why?

My father. He loves unconditionally and has a simplicity of mind and heart that is contagious. My dad is always giving his time, money and thought to others, expecting nothing in return. He has blue collar humility, always quietly doing what needs to be done. If I end up being half of the man he is, I would consider that a satisfying life.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

I have a particular interest in the economics of social justice issues. A year in JVC will help me understand social work and societal problems more intimately, in order to one day help enact prophylactic socioeconomic solutions. JVC is a vital first step in a lifetime of pursuing positive social change.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

The focus on client stories. My clients are on the edge of self-sustainability and my job is to be a resource. If they need help with a college application, resume, or finding housing, I make sure my client has the proper resources. I have the fortunate position of being able to see real change in my clients, and it’s my responsibility to be part of a positive chapter in their stories.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

I believe the four values are pretty straightforward once you stumble upon them. I wish more people in our generation could see the tangible value in a one or two year commitment to volunteering and pursuing social justice. I have found my true and best self when I am selfless, but it took an initial leap of faith. I know now that JVC will make me a better brother, son, husband, and businessman in the future.

Kharisma Goldston
Philadelphia, PA

Kharisma Goldston

Engagement Specialist, Bethesda Project
Le Moyne College  2015
Major: Psychology
Fun Fact: She is a twin.


How would your friends or family describe you?

My family would describe me as passionate because I become absorbed in the work I am doing. I often want to educate my family about the causes that I am working on, and they are never surprised when I have a new cause I want them to hear about.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Working with my clients and diving deeper into the four values of JVC. In my work, I have the opportunity to examine the causes of homelessness. It is important to get a deeper understanding where my clients are coming from and how their circumstances are different but might have led to the same outcome. It is a good feeling when a client is able to move into supportive housing.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC is about challenging yourself. The experience of being a JV is a process that is not easy or simple. As a JV community we often have to make difficult decisions together regarding how our house runs. JVC is a program that survives on community and commitment. It is both a rewarding commitment and a challenging process.


How and why did you choose your college/major?

I chose LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY because of the atmosphere. The students and professors were so set on making me feel like a future dolphin when I first arrived on campus that I felt like I was always meant to be a dolphin. I chose my major because working with others has always been my passion. Psychology has taught me a lot about myself and others.


Who is your role model and why?

My role model is Maya Angelou. Angelou wrote, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” As a JV I am often faced with clients that have experienced many hardships. It is important to acknowledge how hardships can negatively affect us but also how we can learn and grow from them. Hardships do not break us; they strengthen us against future adversity.

Markus Creachbaum
Kansas City, MO

Markus Creachbaum

Patient Assistant and Assistant Behavioral Health Case Manager, Kansas City CARE Clinic
John Carroll University  2015
Major: Biology
Fun Fact: huge Jurassic Park nerd; as a kid wanted to be a paleontologist.


 What drew you to JVC?

I was attracted to JVC because of the first word of its name, Jesuit. My transforming Jesuit education at John Carroll University allowed me to discern that there was only one post-grad service program out there for me. I also enjoyed the numerous placement options JVC had to offer around the country.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college?

The summer after my sophomore year I lived and worked on the Navajo Reservation as part of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty internship program. I assisted St. Anne’s Mission in the organization of mission groups and events for local children. This rewarding experience planted the seed for me to ultimately join JVC.


What makes you laugh?

The odd and awkward moments while living in community–there are many! These are already some of my favorite memories of my experience in Kansas City.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

I am very passionate about access to healthcare. My placement allows me to work with this issue every day as I interact with a diverse group of patients who are seeking our exceptional care.


Who is your role model and why?

My role model is my Dad because without his hard work, constant support, and investment in my education I would not be a Jesuit Volunteer. I hope to emulate him as I work with the KC CARE Clinic to provide quality healthcare to those who are uninsured and under-insured in Kansas City.

Teya Deleveaux
St. Louis, MO

Teya Deleveaux

Graduate Support Assistant, De La Salle Middle School
Xavier University  2015
Major: Strategic Human Resources Management
Fun Fact: Good puns and really corny Laffy Taffy-type jokes make her laugh


 What drew you to JVC?

Coming from a Jesuit school, I wanted to continue to grow in an environment that focused on immersion and reflection for spiritual growth, cultivates awareness of my daily choices, and allows me to serve with others in a community for the pursuit of social justice. Also, several of the people that inspired me in college had nothing but fantastic things to say about JVC.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I live by the mantra “responding to every call that excites my spirit.” This includes trying new foods, supporting local coffee shops, listening to local bands, and capturing a city’s unique landscapes and architecture through photography. All of these things excite my spirit, help me to connect with people and eventually to fall in love with the city I am living in or visiting.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Being able to go through a process from start to finish. At my placement I work with 10 seniors supporting their college application process. Watching the students transition into the next step of their lives and knowing they are furthering their education to pursue their dreams is very rewarding.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

As a Jesuit Volunteer, no matter where you go you are a part of a community of volunteers. The connections you make with other volunteers, former JVs, and other volunteer groups is incredible. You will meet people who have different experiences but share common core values. The support available is unbelievable as is the willingness to help us all create memorable experiences as JVs.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college?

I was fortunate to be heavily involved with Xavier Alternative Breaks for all four years. Xavier Alternative Breaks is a program where students become aware of different social injustices. These experiences empowered and challenged me to understand my relationship with the community through direct service, education and reflection.

Jessica Donahue
Minneapolis/Twin Cities

Jessica Donahue

Policy and Communications Coordinator, Alliance Housing Inc.
University of San Diego 2015
Major: Sociology
Fun Fact: Moved every few years during childhood, including to Japan, Hawaii, and four U.S. cities (her dad was in the Navy).


 What was the most inspiring experience you had in college and how did it lead you to JVC?

During my junior year, I went on the Search Retreat offered by University Ministry. While the retreat was inspiring, what moved me the most was getting the opportunity to lead the retreat my senior year. This community at USD solidified by decision to do JVC, because I wanted to be able to continue forming my faith with people my age, and felt that the values of Search fit in so well with the values of JVC (maybe because Search was created with the JVC values in mind!).


What did you get your degree in?  How did you choose your major?

I majored in sociology, with minors in ethnic studies and economics. Sociology helped me make sense of the world, and identify all of the social structures and dynamics that I had recognized from a young age without realizing it. Ethnic studies helped me examine these structures more critically with a racial lens. I added econ as a minor after realizing how important it was to grapple with what I was learning in sociology in terms of our current economy.


What makes you laugh?

Just about everything. I laugh way too easily–often at my own jokes and myself. Being able to laugh has been so important to my overall wellbeing this year; to find the humor in the challenging parts of community and simple living.


What social justice issue are you most passionate about?

Racial justice. Every aspect of our society, from housing to employment to the criminal justice system, is embedded in racist structures. Especially while working in social services this year, it’s impossible to ignore the brutal history of what has been done (and what still happens) to people of color in the United States. As a white woman, working for a racial equity requires acknowledging and divesting from my own privileges, which isn’t easy. My placement at Alliance Housing gives me the opportunity to work against racial inequality by advocating for and with our tenants, many of whom are people of color.

Olivia Pappas
Boston, MA

Olivia Pappas

Family Outreach Coordinator, Red Sox Foundation & Massachusetts General Hospital Foundation Home Base Program
University of Scranton 2015
Major: Psychology
Fun Fact: The only time she has left the country was for an immersion trip to El Salvador in college


 Who is your role model and why?

My role model is my Mom-mom. Mom-mom has overcome many obstacles while keeping her faith in God and loving others. She will always be there for me and has inspired me to be a better person.


What social justice issue are you most passionate about?

Growing up, my Mom-mom emphasized the importance of helping our soldiers when they come home. This aligns perfectly with my JVC placement. Home Base Program is a multi-faceted facility for post 9/11 veterans and their families. It is now our duty to ensure these incredible men and women receive the care, means, and support they need to enjoy the freedoms they fought so hard to protect.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

One of the most rewarding aspects is the people I work with: a mix of veterans, active duty personnel, and people with military connections. The passion they have for this organization is incredible.


How and why did you choose your college?

I chose the University of Scranton for many different reasons, but the main reason I fell in love with the school was because of the community. The Scranton community pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone, saw potential in me I did not know was there, and challenged me to not only question but to change the world. Scranton quickly became my home and the foundation for my involvement with social justice efforts.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC is so much more than just a year of service. It is a time of self-discovery, expanding your horizons, and developing relationships with others and your faith. It is a time to explore a new city, become confident in yourself and your abilities, and live in solidarity with others. Never again will you have so few responsibilities to be able to move to a new city and do a year of service. Why not take full advantage of this opportunity?

Jace Prokupek
New York City

Jace Prokupek

Tenant Services Assistant, Breaking Ground
Regis University 2015
Major: Marketing


 What drew you to JVC?

I wanted to be challenged. Moving to a new city, working at a placement in Times Square, living in community with five strangers, and having to earn the trust of the neighbors in my building all present challenges, but I know I will grow from this experience.


Who is your role model and why?

Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist, is one of my role models. She embraces her identity and motivates others to challenge the status quo.


What social justice issue are you most passionate about?

In my work at my JVC placement, I live out my passion for housing issues. I believe housing is the first step in overcoming numerous barriers for low-income individuals. Current programs to address homelessness are not creating enough affordable housing for the increasing demand.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC is not just for those who want to work in the nonprofit sector or want to serve in the name of the Jesuits. It is so much more than that.  From my position, I have gained skills in conflict management, event planning and group communication, which will all transfer to any career I want to pursue.


What clubs, sports, activities, or organizations were you involved in during College?

I was really involved in student government for my four years in college. Being able to voice student concerns and plan community-focused events on campus were my main reasons to serve in student government.

Philip Ellefson
Milwaukee, WI

Philip Ellefson

Refugee Employment Strategist at the International Institute of Wisconsin
University of Portland 15
Major: English
Fun Fact: Obsessed with the smell of books. Has an Instagram account (@book_smells) where he reviews the smells of old books as if he were reviewing fine wines.


 What drew you to JVC?

I appreciate JVC’s commitment to simple living. Pope Francis has stressed the Christian obligation to denounce what he calls the “throwaway culture,” and I think he’s right on. Especially as the planet begins to suffer from the consequences of climate change, we can no longer afford to consume at the rate we have been.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC is full of joy. Friends and family sometimes act as if I’ve taken some sort of solemn oath in joining JVC, thinking that being a passionate person means being a serious person. But some of the most important aspects of living in community are goofy things like dancing to Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” while doing dishes.


How did you choose your major?

In third grade, I decided I wanted to be a poet when I grew up, and since then my fascination with language has grown and grown. By the time I graduated from high school, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up (I still don’t), so I decided to study the thing that fascinated me most: English.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

So far, I have been most impacted by the trips to the airport to pick up refugees who have just arrived to the U.S. It is a huge honor to be one of the first Americans to welcome a family to their new home after they’ve waited years to build a new life in the U.S.  It’s an exciting time to be working with refugees because the influx of Syrian refugees in Europe has sparked a global conversation about how best to serve displaced people. It’s cool to know that I may be meeting some of the 10,000 Syrian refugees President Obama has promised to welcome in 2016.

Scott Santarosa, SJ
California Province of the Jesuits

Scott Santarosa

Provincial


Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz
Co-Directors of Casa de La Solidaridad

Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz

Co-Founders and Co-Directors of Casa de La Solidaridad


Bob Casey
U.S. Senator, D-PA

Bob Casey

U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania


Beth Arnone
Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Beth Arnone

Primary Care Nurse Practitioner


 

After graduating from Georgetown University, Beth Arnone
spent a year working in nursing. When applying for JVC,
she specifically asked not to be put in a nursing position.

“I was told they needed nurses badly and they convinced me to
take the position I took,” she said. “It was at a health center in South
Baltimore. I was an outreach nurse for new moms coming home”
needing postpartum care.

The clinic Arnone was based out of was run by former nuns
who were both nurse practitioners, or advanced practice nurses
who have completed coursework and clinical work beyond the
requirements of a registered nurse. She also found she really
connected with obstetrics and returned to graduate school for
midwifery, then to the Texas border for an internship.
“I had never been involved with nurse practitioners and they were
hugely influential,” Arnone said. “I went into being a midwife and
working as an independent practitioner because of that clinic. I
really wanted to work with indigent people.”

Working in a clinic run by midwife nuns in Texas, she delivered
pregnant teenagers’ babies.

“Every month we split whatever income we had,” she said. “Being
down there was a mini-JVC.”

She eventually returned to school to become a primary care nurse
practitioner and works in that today. She met her husband, Mike
Johnston, through JVC. He was a volunteer in Baltimore in 1982
and 1983, right before Beth joined. He also works in the
medical field as a physical therapist, and the couple and their
two children live in an intentional community called Liberty
Village Co-housing Community in Union Bridge, Maryland.

AnnMaura Connolly
Chief Strategy Officer, City Year

AnnMaura Connolly

Chief Strategy Officer, City Year


Steve Katsouros, S.J.
Executive Director, Arrupe College

Steve Katsouros, S.J.

Dean and Executive Director, Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago


Jody Kent Lavy
Director and National Coordinator, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

Jody Kent Lavy

Director and National Coordinator, Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth


Lesly D’Ambola
Medical Director, St. Luke's Catholic Medical Services in Camden, NJ

Lesley D’Ambola

Medical Director
St. Luke’s Catholic Medical Services in Camden, NJ


 

I had made a promise to God that if I got into medical school I
would work with the poor,” said Dr. Lesly D’Ambola, the medical
director of St. Luke’s Catholic Medical Services in Camden, New
Jersey, an assistant professor at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine
and a JV in San Jose, California, in 1982. D’Ambola was accepted into
osteopathic school on her second round of applications.

“Be careful what you promise God,” she joked, while taking a break
from working on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

D’Ambola’s route to medicine was not direct. A psychology major at
St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, she chose JVC in part for the
offer of a placement working in the mental health field.

“I loved it there and I really grew in it,” she said. She stayed in San
Jose after her volunteer year to take medical school prerequisites, and
then moved to New Jersey to work with the homeless in Jersey City.

“When I got all these (med school) rejections the first time I didn’t
care,” she said. “I was too busy to care. I didn’t need to be a doctor to
take care of people and that was a really good insight to have. I felt
like I was really helping people and touching God to deal with people
on that basic level of shelter, food and clothes. I really felt God called
me there.”

Management changed at the shelter, and D’Ambola lost her job.

“I was totally heartbroken,” she said. “I really think God had other
plans for me.” Following her lay off she went on a retreat at a
Franciscan retreat center in Upstate New York.

“I felt like I died and went to heaven on that mountain,” she said. “I
heard the Holy Spirit say ‘reapply to medical school and if you don’t
get in move on with your life.’”

On this round of applications, she was accepted at three osteopathic
medical schools.

At Camden’s St. Luke’s Catholic Medical Services, D’Ambola works
as a primary care physician with patients primarily from Puerto Rico,
Mexico and the Dominican Republic, focusing on spending time
with each patient to address his or her needs. It’s not a moneymaker,
she said, but a vocation she is called to every day. Many of the skills
she learned in JVC she uses daily, and her agency has been a JVC
placement for many years.

“Seeing God in all things, seeing God in our patients, seeing Jesus in
our patients, for me, that makes all the difference in the world,” she
said. “Am I saying I do it all the time? I try but I’m not perfect. I yell
at my patients, I get annoyed at my patients but seeing Jesus in our
patients makes all the difference.”

Matt McGarry
Country Representative for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, Catholic Relief Services

Matt McGarry

Country Representative for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza
Catholic Relief Services


While a college study abroad program first introduced Matt McGarry to
living overseas, two years in Nicaragua with Jesuit Volunteers International
provided the compass for his life of service abroad.

McGarry, currently the country representative for Catholic Relief Services’
Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza program, worked at Proyecto Generando
Vida as a Jesuit Volunteer from 2000 to 2002, starting off as a “jack of all
trades” at the agency. He taught elementary school students, supported a
youth group and served lunch in a school cafeteria.

Working under the blessing of the Sisters of Zion, the nuns who founded
the program, McGarry then developed and ran a microlending program for
the women of Barrio el Recreo during the end of his first year and his entire
second year as a volunteer.

The loans went to women living in Barrio el Recreo for microbusinesses that
included selling small convenience store items out of their homes, selling
food door to door, buying bulk clothing to sell at markets and a small
home-based restaurant.

“In just a year and a half we had quite a bit of success,” he said. “These
were incredible, incredible ladies and Proyecto Generando Vida was
just a fantastic opportunity for me.”

McGarry returned to the United States for graduate school at Fordham
University and then joined Catholic Relief Services after graduation.
He has lived and served in Zimbabwe, the Darfur region of Sudan,
Pakistan, Afghanistan and, for the last three years, Jerusalem. He lives
there with his wife, whom he met while both were working in Kashmir,
Afghanistan, following a devastating 2005 earthquake. The couple has
a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son.

McGarry is based in Jerusalem but regularly travels to Catholic Relief
Services offices in Gaza and Bethlehem in the Palestinian West Bank.
The organization started in the Middle East in the 1940s by providing
humanitarian assistance to displaced communities following World
War II. Today, McGarry oversees a variety of services from food
distribution programs in the West Bank to peace building efforts
between Israeli and Palestinian students.

The experiences of Jesuit Volunteer Corps guided him through his
journeys all over the globe, he said.

“JVC was one of the most formative experiences of my life,” McGarry
said. “Particularly the lessons learned about subsidiary grassroots
approaches, cross-country dialogue, approaching the work with
humility and patience and a genuine interest in the dignity and
the inherent value of the people we are trying to serve. It’s been
foundational in my work, certainly, and in my human relations.”

 

Paul Freeman
Clinical Nurse Leader Student & Oncology Certified RN, Marquette University

Paul Freeman

Clinical Nurse Leader Student & Oncology Certified RN
Marquette University


Paul Freeman switched to a nursing program at Gonzaga University
during his freshman year when he realized pre-med wasn’t the
right fit. He joined JVC in 2007, working in Hartford, Connecticut,
as a case manager and food group coordinator at Immaculate Conception
Church and homeless shelter.

“After joining JVC, I remember one or two of my classmates asking me why
I would want to join,” he said. “Essentially, they said I should worry about
losing my skills and, of course, there’s the whole money aspect to taking a
year off. It was definitely a privilege to be able to volunteer. JVC gives you
an opportunity to grow in other skills that are very pertinent to nursing.”

After his volunteer year he went to work in a blood and marrow transplant
unit in Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, a job that was
particularly suited to some of the healing ministry he learned in JVC.

“Working as a JV in a homeless shelter was a good experience because I
worked with people going through difficult times and was learning how to
develop relationships over time,” he said. “This is important in oncology
and especially in blood and marrow transplant because those patients are
often there for weeks or months to receive care.”

He is now working toward a master’s in clinical nurse leadership at
Marquette University, where he met a spiritual director who helped give
him perspective on how nursing is tied to JV ministry.

“He was saying it’s important to think of healing as a ministry of peace,
helping people find peace within themselves and their bodies,”
Dr. Scott Early Franklin 81 Freeman said.

 

Jeff Thielman
President, International Institute of New England

Jeff Thielman

President of the International Institute of New England


Tom Mulloy
Office of Domestic Social Development United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Tom Mulloy

Policy Advisor
Office of Domestic Social Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Approaching college graduation, Tom Mulloy knew he wanted to do
something with his Spanish skills that didn’t involve sitting in an office
reading, writing and translating. So he joined Jesuit Volunteer Corps and
moved to San Diego.

“Jesuit Volunteer Corps represented an opportunity for a kid from
Southeastern Pennsylvania — an area without a big immigrant
community— to build a deeper relationship with the Spanish-speaking
community, to work with people to build better lives for themselves
and their families,” said Mulloy, who is currently the domestic policy
advisor for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in
Washington, D.C.

“That’s what drew me toward not only JVC but to San Diego. There
was an allure to being around people who felt similar concern and
similar passion and intensity in dealing with these issues.”

As a Jesuit Volunteer, Mulloy worked at the Sherman Heights
Community Center. He coordinated activities with senior citizens for
the first half of the day and helped run an after-school program for
middle school students during the afternoon.

After Jesuit Volunteer Corps, he worked for the two and a half years as
a counselor and case manager in a drug and alcohol abuse program
for Hispanic youth.  Mulloy said at that point he thought about going
back to school for a social work degree but also realized clearly
“how policy making can help or hurt people. That’s where I decided to go.
I still felt really strongly about this call for social work but to work on the
justice side and on system change.”

He worked for four years on Capitol Hill before starting his current
position, where he advocates for labor and economic policy, social
welfare policy and affordable housing.

“I’ve been trying to make my best effort to be a voice for folks who usually
don’t have a voice at the policy making table,” he said. “But I also work
with communities that are underrepresented to empower them. A lot of
time you look at the system and think the system doesn’t work and heavily
favors powerful interests and lots of money and wealth. In many cases
that is true but we have to organize and educate and get involved in the
process. I like to work to empower folks.”

The lessons learned during his year as a Jesuit Volunteer are with him
daily, he said, providing “Policy advocacy at its best is social justice,” Mulloy said. “It is
finding a better way to create a more equitable, fair and just society for
everyone. Certainly the philosophy and the values and the mission of
Jesuit Volunteer Corps continue to animate me.”

 

Colleen Fitzgerald
Child Protection Case Management Coaching Program, International Rescue Committee

Colleen Fitzgerald

Child Protection Case Management Coaching Program
International Rescue Committee

 


Reflecting from her home in Beirut, Lebanon, Colleen Fitzgerald can say
definitively that getting rejected from Jesuit Volunteers International
was a blessing in disguise. “I think that actually the best thing for
me and the way I developed myself professionally was through my
domestic JV placement” as a case manager at a San Diego domestic
violence shelter, Fitzgerald said. “It built my skills as a case manager
and then when I started working internationally I think it helped that I
was a more experienced professional.”

“The idea of faith in action was also really inspiring to me,” she said.
“I was talking about all these things in the classroom while studying
political science and human rights and public service. I really wanted to
put those ideas in action and that led me to Jesuit Volunteer Corps.”

After JVC, she moved to Boston to work in a residential substanceabuse
treatment program for a year and then enrolled at Boston College
for a master’s degree in social work. The school offers a unique global
practice program. “I still had this dream of working internationally and
there were points when I didn’t think it would amount to anything but
I still wanted to give it a shot,” she said. “I loved social work and it is so
closely aligned with the values promoted through JVC.”

She started an international internship in Jordan in January 2011, at the
dawn of the Arab Spring with democratic uprisings throughout the
Middle East. Following the internship with the International Medical
Corps, the agency offered her a job working in Libya during the country’s
Arab Spring and subsequent violent conflict. During her year and a half
there, Fitzgerald helped develop a child protection program that was part of
the emergency response to the conflict.

She moved to Lebanon in August 2013, where she now works with
the International Rescue Committee, training child protection social
workers who work mainly with Lebanon’s Palestinian and Syrian refugee
communities. Lebanon’s population is 4 million; 1.5 million are refugees and
about half of the refugee community are children.

“Rather than direct assistance to refugees we are trying to build capacity for
the local communities so they can support vulnerable children; especially
refugees,” she said. “We transmit best practice standards set at the global
level and coach and mentor social workers here.”

Fitzgerald does not directly counsel refugees through the nationwide Child
Protection Case Management Coaching Program. She travels throughout
Lebanon training social workers from organizations including the Lebanese
Ministry of Social Affairs, United Nations agencies and various NGOs in a
job she calls “really, really rewarding.” The ultimate goal is the protection of
Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian children and families.

“I counsel social workers to really improve their skills so they can support
the area for the long term,” she said. “It’s much better this way. We talk a lot
about sustainability and how we can improve their system.”

Her alma mater, the Boston College School of Social Work, awarded her with
its 2015 Distinguished Recent Alumni Award for her work abroad. Pursuing
meaningful work in a place where the needs is very great, Fitzgerald is
exactly where she wants to be. For that she credits the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

 

Dr. Ronald Willy
Radiologist, U.S. Navy

Dr. Ronald Willy

Radiologist
U.S. Navy


As a JV in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1990, working for
a local community-organizing group as well as at a
homeless shelter for men in Immaculate Conception
Church, Dr. Ronald Willy, a Marquette graduate, had no
ambition to enter medical school. He also never thought he
would join the military.

“It was just the opposite,” said Willy, who also worked for two
years on the staff of JVC. “I was anti-military.”

Willy is now a radiologist stationed with the U.S. Navy
in Okinawa, Japan. He joined the Navy for the medical
scholarship and initially planned to be an ophthalmologist,
but a severe color vision deficiency in his own eyesight forced
him to choose another specialty or leave clinical medicine
altogether. He trained in radiology and spends his working
hours looking at x-rays and CT and MRI scans at a hospital
he compared to a U.S. community hospital for active duty
military, their families and local retirees.

“I think the most important component of JVC that I take
with me into the hospital every day is the priority of
individual dignity and worth,” he said. “The work of
JVC volunteers forces them to encounter, interact and
ultimately (hopefully) truly know individual people
who have been disregarded or disenfranchised. This
human contact should foster a greater desire for
justice. In medicine, similar encounters happen, when
physicians meet patients who are ill or unwell; and this
human contact and interaction usually fosters the quest
for diagnosis and treatment. JVC and medicine are
similar in that they both strive to respect the primacy,
and foster the dignity of individual human beings.”

 

British Robinson
Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Heart Alliance

British Robinson

Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Heart Alliance


Elizabeth Maziarka
Medical Director, Urgent Care Department at the Codman Square Health Center

Elizabeth Maziarka

Medical Director
Urgent Care Department at the Codman Square Health Center


Dr. Elizabeth Maziarka is now the medical director of the urgent
care department at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester,
a community-based outpatient health and justice service center that
includes programs like a charter school and social services in addition
to the free standing clinic.

She knew as a 10-year-old she wanted to be a doctor.

“I was always interested in science and math and the human body
and the connection people have with each other,” she said. “Not
only the physical aspect, but also the mental connections.”

After graduating from Marquette University, she joined JVC in 1989
in Washington, D.C. There, she worked at the Columbia Road Health Services
providing medical, lab and pharmacy support to a patient population made
up primarily of El Salvadoran war refugees. Since then she has worked in
Chicago as a mental health therapist, attended medical school, focusing on
family medicine, and did her residency working with the Native American
population.

She moved to the Boston suburbs with her husband, and now works
with a patient population consisting of approximately 40 percent from
Haiti and the rest from the surrounding neighborhood of Dorchester,
including many patients of African descent. Within this diverse group,
87 percent live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
“I was excited I could pursue my dream of integration of medicine
and culture,” she said. “Medicine is not about having someone take
a pill. It is asking, What is life like? What are your stressors? How
does it affect your health? All those issues are important.”

Monica Márquez
Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court

Monica Márquez

Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court


Susan Collins
Chief of Staff Office of U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez

Susan Collins

Chief of Staff
Office of U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez


Susan Collins currently is the chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Luis
Gutierrez, the senior member of the Illinois delegation in the U.S. House of
Representative and a champion of immigration reform.

One of her first tastes of the immigrant experience came as a Jesuit Volunteer
in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, working in a trailer outside a
family detention center.

“When I first started, the detention center was like an airplane hangar with
a cement floor, cots completely wide open, very refugee like,” she said.
“The whole reason they were in there is they had a minor with them when
crossing the border. It could be a 20-year-old brother with a 16-year-old
brother, a mom with a young daughter. My project served this population
exclusively.”

She joined Jesuit Volunteer Corps following a year of service in 1989
in Nicaragua through a Georgetown University program. There, she
helped women in a small mountain village start their own bread-baking
cooperative.

In Texas she worked to reunite family members and on asylum cases.
“It was really exciting and very rewarding,” she said. “You were out in the
middle of nowhere and you were their only hope for any kind of help at all.”
She lived in South Texas for more than a decade, working with immigrant
families.

“I had a lot of experience doing direct service to immigrants,” she said.
“Working with recently arrived immigrant families you get so frustrated.
They are so limited in their legal status it felt like a huge blockade to
being helpful to them.”

In 2001 she applied and was accepted for a fellowship with Gutierrez.

“He’s the one I sought out,” she said. “His inner-city Chicago
constituents are practically all Latino and he is very well known
nationally if you work on immigration and especially if you speak
Spanish.”

She went from fellow to legislative assistant to chief of staff.

“It was a weird mix for me working for progressive grassroots
nonprofits to come to a job on Capitol Hill,” she said. “It’s incredible
when you’re in a position of power like this. We haven’t achieved
legalization for the undocumented but we have achieved legal status
for DREAMers (undocumented immigrants brought to the United
States as children) and legal status for parents of U.S. citizens. I’m in the
total thick of that.”

As Rep. Gutierrez’s chief of staff, Collins is responsible for the day-today
operations of his office, including mentoring and supervising staff
based in Chicago and Washington, D.C. She is the principal point of
contact between Rep. Gutierrez and other members of Congress, federal
agencies and his constituents in Illinois’ fourth congressional district.
She also helps direct his legislative agenda, including the successful
effort passing the DREAM Act in the House in 2010.

Collins also works to educate congressional offices and community
groups throughout the country on how to successfully defend families
and individuals against deportation, and has personally intervened
in hundreds of individual immigrant and deportation cases on Rep.
Gutierrez’s behalf.

Collins said that Jesuit Volunteer Corps was “absolutely central” to her
interest in working on and championing immigration issues. The skills
she developed living in a Jesuit Volunteer community have helped to
make her a better policy maker and policy thinker, she said.
“There is no other thing in my life that set me on this course than my
two years of volunteer work and Jesuit Volunteer Corps was right in
that,” Collins said.

 

Scott Early
Chief Medical Officer Lynn Community Health Center

Scott Early

Chief Medical Officer
Lynn Community Health Center


Since he was in junior high school, Dr. Scott Early knew he
wanted to be a doctor. When he didn’t get into medical school,
he applied for the JVC, willing to go anywhere that wasn’t in
the Southern United States.

“The impression in my mind was that that was the last place I
wanted to be,” Early said. “Then they told me a health center in a
little town in Louisiana needs someone just like you.”

Early spent 1981 working in the Teche Action Clinic, a federally
funded health care center on Bayou Teche in Franklin, Louisiana. He
worked in a laboratory as well as a nearby hospital, though the
lessons that remain had less to do with the mechanics of health
care than the politics of providing care for those who could not pay.

“I participated in lobbying efforts to keep the health center open”
during a political movement to close the centers, he said. “It was an
amazing year that taught me stuff I never would have learned in
med school.”

He was accepted into medical school following JVC, training as a
family doctor and accepting a job at a small community health center
in Rhode Island. There, he started an innovative residency program
that trained young doctors in a community health setting.

He moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1993, and by the next
year, the first class of residents at the community health center
started learning.

“It truly transformed heath care in Lawrence,” Early said. “It’s a poor
city with a population of about 75,000, mostly Dominicans. Prior to
this it was a tiny struggling organization with about 9,000 patients.
We were always looking for money and had trouble keeping
doctors. It was really not able to meet a fraction of the demand.
We attracted a lot of people who wanted to teach at the health center,”
because of the residency program.

Five former residents of the program were also former JVs, Early said.
“We were unabashed about social justice,” he said. “We were training
physicians who wanted to work in that model.”

After nearly 17 years there, he left to work as the chief medical officer
at the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Massachusetts.
“We’re coming up close to 40,000 patients and we’re still growing,” he said.

Troy Thayer
Santa Monica, CA

Troy Thayer

Family Support Specialist, Westside Children’s Center

Loyola University New Orleans ’15
Major: Biology; double minor in Mathematics and Chemistry
Fun Fact: Is applying to dental school; likes wake boarding, slalom skiing, and going out to the sand dunes to ride motocross

Name one bucket list item you’re looking forward to crossing off with your community.

I hope to learn how to live simply and depend on myself to wake up in the morning, not a white mocha iced coffee with a shot of espresso.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about and why?

I am very passionate about diversity, as my mother’s family is Latino. I feel like I can connect bridges between the Latinos and Caucasians because I am from both communities. Previously, I have attended multiple Latino summits, and I have taken multiple diversity courses throughout high school and university.


How did you hear about JVC?

While I attended a Jesuit college preparatory school and university, JVC was always present in the community; however, it was a Jesuit in training who was a close friend, professor, and mentor who recommended I apply for this program. I wanted to make a difference throughout my year off between undergraduate and dental school, and I believe that this is my best possible option!


What clubs, sports, activities, or organizations were you involved in during college? And how did those lead you to consider JVC?

I ran varsity cross country for my first two years of university, and was the captain of my college swim club for my final two years. I helped officiate the swim club as an official varsity sport this upcoming year. While I studied abroad in England at the University of Birmingham my senior year, I ran cross country and played water polo. Throughout my college career, I participated as a jazz and classical trombone performer, Pi Kappa Phi social fraternity founding father, student mentor and founder of First in the Pack (first generation college student mentor program), National Communicator for the Resident Hall Association, Hope Lodge volunteer, Loyola Ambassadors (Tour Guide), Pi Mu Epsilon (Math club), Loyola American Chemical Society student affiliates, Diversity Club, Gospel Choir, and National Eagle Scout Association member. These activities gave me the leadership and social skills I needed to get involved with a positive year-long volunteer experience.

Megan Elman
Raleigh, NC

Megan Elman

Paralegal with the Battered Immigrants Project of Legal Aid NC
Georgetown University ’15
Major: Foreign Service, Latin America and the Middle East
Fun Fact: Loves hiking and rock climbing, recently finished first half marathon

What are your plans for this summer?

This summer I am in my hometown of Buffalo, NY working at my mom’s office, studying for the LSAT, running, and finally taking the time to read for pleasure. I just finished a 10-day road trip up Route 1 in California; it was the perfect graduation gift to myself. My boyfriend and I traveled from San Diego to San Francisco, and it was great to experience new cities, visit with relatives, and camp in Big Sur! I’m perhaps most excited to live in Boston for three weeks. I’ll be nannying for my six-year old niece. She’s the most fun person I know, and I’m excited to spend some time with her, my brother and his fiancé!


How would your friends or family describe you?

When I asked my roommate how she would describe me, I was told: vivacious, meticulous, and caring. Vivacious: I love to get to know people and fully commit to whatever adventure or activity I try. Meticulous: I’m detail-oriented, almost to a fault. I pride myself on working incredibly hard and fully committing to my projects. Caring: I care about the people around me. I love getting to know a few people really well, sharing experiences, and prioritize being with my loved ones.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about and why?

As is fitting for my placement, I am incredibly passionate about immigrants’ rights. I became interested in immigrants’ rights through service, internships and academic courses during college; the parallel national debate over comprehensive reform added fuel to my interest. In particular, I taught ESL in my hometown the summer into my sophomore year of college. Realizing that there was an immigrant population in the city I grew up in was a huge wakeup call and really pushed me into the immigration debate and other social justice issues.


What did you get your degree in? How and why did you choose your major?

I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service, majoring in Latin America and the Middle East. I chose my major, because it allowed me to take courses I was interested in and gave me the flexibility to and assurance that I would make the major work for my interests, not the other way around.

Veronica Solorio
Tucson, AZ

Veronica Solorio

SNAP Application Assistant and Community Educator
for Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
Santa Clara University ’15
Major: Sociology and Ethnic Studies
Fun Fact: Was co-chair of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano Aztlan (MEChA) at SCU


Can you share a little about the moment you got your welcome call from JVC?

I was in class waiting to get an essay back from my professor and saw a number I didn’t recognize. I listened to the voicemail on my way out of class then flipped out and couldn’t listen to the entire message before calling my parents!


How would your friends or family describe you?

My family would definitely say I am the loud spontaneous one who is always up to something. They would also say I am a person who isn’t afraid to speak my mind and makes sure everyone in the family is doing what they have to do.


Tell us something you’re excited about at your placement.

I am looking forward to being so close to the border and being able to foster my passion for immigrant rights, while also developing my passion for food justice.


How did you hear about JVC?

I went on an immersion trip to Oakland, CA with Santa Clara University. We met up with the current JV’s who were placed in the East Bay area and got to hear about their experience first-hand.


What did you get your degree in? How and why did you choose your college/major?

I chose Sociology and Ethnic Studies because I wanted to learn about the history of people of color that is often left out in mainstream education.

Patrick Decker
Punta Gorda, Belize

Patrick Decker

Director of Retreat Ministries, St. Peter Claver Parish
Mount St. Mary’s University ‘13
Major: Psychology, Minor in Theology
Fun Fact: Was a student leader in St. Mary’s University CRUX program leading outdoor adventures trips in backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing,
caving, and high/low ropes course


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I spend most of my free time hanging out with my neighbors and friends in Punta Gorda. Our house is smack dab in the middle of a vibrant community and many of my neighbors are close to me in age. This has allowed me to delve deeply into Belizean culture, as we share mutual investment in each other’s lives and interests. My friends accompany me as I travel to various Mayan villages and I have seen their work firsthand in the school, hospital, on the farm or at sea..


What drew you to JVC?

Even as a freshman I knew I wanted to do international service post-graduation. It was a matter of finding the right program for me. After extensively researching JVC, Peace Corps, YAGM and Rostro de Cristo, it was evident that JVC had everything I was looking for – it was structured around intentional community and there was a central emphasis on integration and social awareness. JVC also claims a pioneering history and a large FJV network which were motivators for me.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Experiencing life in 30 unique villages. I am often traveling through the jungle of southern Belize as I lead retreats for some 500 students and teachers in village schools. I have had the distinctive ability to engage in new cultures and diverse ethnic traditions, including Mayan, Creole, Mestizo, East Indian and Garifuna. I have also gained many professional skills that will aid me as I look to continue my education as an FJV.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

I wish people knew that JVC at the core is a formational and growth-oriented program. My pre-JVC thoughts about international service where that I was going to a developing country to help alleviate someone’s suffering or injustice. I now understand that my experience in JVC is about accompaniment and self-growth. My time as a JV has been about self-discovery and self-acceptance. Both my JVC and local communities have loved me and challenged me, and this is by far the greatest benefit of this program.

Michael Fowler
Oakland, CA

Michael Fowler

Program Assistant, Native American Health Center School-Based (UFSA/Life Academy)
Georgia Institute of Technology ‘13
Major: Finance, Biology
Fun Fact: Enjoys iced coffee and Excel spreadsheets; is an Additional Year JV


What makes you laugh?

Being surrounded by friends. Some of my happiest memories from college are just sitting in Georgia Tech’s library at some ungodly hour, enjoying the presence of wonderful people.


What drew you to JVC?

I was drawn by the chance to live and work with a group of like-minded individuals who also want to have a positive impact on the world around them. Unlike some other service programs, JVC’s community tenant put me at ease –if things ever got stressful, the community around me would be able to provide support and solidarity. The idea of getting to be part of something far bigger than myself helped me hope that the cumulative effect of my actions with other JVs could generate a tangible difference in the world.


Who is your role model and why?

People who recognize irreconcilable injustices and then work to alter them, not for simply their own sake but for everyone impacted, are people I strive to live up to. I can think of no better individual who exemplifies this than Mahatma Gandhi.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

I get to use the skills I gained in math and science while at Georgia Tech, and use them to have a positive impact on the students I get to help. For example, I may be trying to creatively explain a math problem or come up with a tangible example while covering a science topic. It’s rewarding to use the experiences I was blessed to receive on a daily basis.

Emily Hagen
Pohnpei, Micronesia

Emily Hagen

1st Grade Teacher, Pohnpei Catholic School
Westmont College ’14
Major: Liberal Studies, History Concentration
Fun Fact: Spent a semester traveling to 12 different countries in Europe


What drew you to JVC?

I was drawn to JVC by the draw to community and spirituality. I am a better teacher and volunteer because I live in a supportive community. We are able to smile together, laugh together, and navigate the challenges of cross cultural living together. Westmont College helped form and shape my faith – the most important part of my life. I knew I wanted a volunteer program with that same emphasis on spirituality.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

Here in Pohnpei, we spend a lot of our free time playing games together, reading, going to waterfalls, or taking walks. It’s actually a relief to not have a cell phone or be so connected to technology. We live simply in a culture that runs on the casually slow “island time,” and it’s really beautiful. Some of our favorite games are Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan!


What might people be surprised to know about you?

For how much I love routines and plans, I also love spontaneous adventures. There’s nothing better than the rush of adrenaline that comes from skydiving or traveling to a new country or saying “yes” to joining God on a wild adventure bigger than yourself.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

I love having the chance to mold every part of a child. I teach reading and math and science, yes, but more importantly I try to teach my students to be kind and compassionate human beings. I also love teaching my students language that will stay with them the rest of their academic career. We talk a lot about how mistakes are good because you can learn from them and how our brains are getting bigger because we are “working harder to get smarter.”


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

I wish more people in the Protestant church knew about JVC. I’m a Protestant Christian and love having the chance to work with a Catholic organization. We are all one body in Christ, no matter our denomination, and by working with Jesuit priests, different orders of nuns, and a Catholic school I better understand the Catholic faith.

Benjamin Moses Hill
Andahuaylillas, Peru

Benjamin Moses Hill

Teacher, Fe y Alegría
Brandeis University 14
Major: Latin American and Latino Studies; Peace, Conflict
and Coexistence Studies, minor
Fun Fact: Worked as a baker in college at the neighborhood bakery


What drew you to JVC?

God. When you really get to the heart of it, that’s the answer. I was drawn by an interest in justice outside of the US. I was drawn by the desire to enter deeper into the Catholic faith, to build an adult relationship with God. I was drawn by the desire to learn what I can live without, to learn how to cut the excesses from my life to live better and have more room for people.


What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?

I like to make music. I grew up in a house that appreciates music the way Peruvians appreciate food. I’ve played violin on and off for 10 years now. It’s a great source of fun as well as a good companion in difficult times. My sister and my father also play instruments (viola and guitar) and playing is a fun way to spend the afternoon together. I’m hoping to write some music these next two years and record it when I get home.


Who is your role model and why?

If I can only answer with one person, then I pick my grandmother Nancy Gilbride Hill. She is one of the strongest women I know (the first female mayor of the town of Waterville, ME). Nannie knows what she believes and defends her beliefs articulately and passionately. She taught me to stand my ground and to speak up. Nannie is loving. She maintains a personal relationship with 10 grandchildren spread across 3 states. One of the things I respect most about her is her ability to apologize when she thinks she is in the wrong, a rare humility. Nannie taught me how to drink, how to eat a lobster, and that it is always the right time for ice cream. I hope that I can emulate Nannie’s quick wit, passion, love, energy, and sharp mind in my own adult life.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

I wish people understood simple living better. It’s something I’m only coming to a decent understanding of now. Simple living isn’t playing at being poor. I think it is more about setting aside distractions that get in the way of a rich and fulfilling life. It’s exchanging worldly wealth for spiritual/emotional wealth. Simple living is about being with people instead of being with things.

Victoria Nguyen Hoang
Dodoma, Tanzania

Victoria Nguyen Hoang

Educator and Guidance Counselor, Dodoma Jesuit Communities
Villanova University 13
Major: Humanities and History; Peace and Justice Studies, minor
Fun Fact: Won a years’ worth of diapers in a crawling contest – claiming Albertsons’
Grocery Store’s “Fastest Baby of the Year” Award


Who is your role model and why?

Most importantly in my life, my big sister has been my role model in all things fashion, mannerisms, sports, cooking, baking, DIY crafts and disliking the color pink. Within the past few years, however, my discovery of Japanese-American political activist Yuri Kochiyama has made her a HUGE inspiration for my desire and passion to work towards social and racial justice. Kochiyama held Malcolm X’s body in her arms when he was assassinated. However, I am most affected by her ability to recognize the interconnectedness of racial issues and demand for positive social change. The world, especially young Asian American women like me, needs more female Asian role models like Yuri Kochiyama and my sister.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC equally values work and building relationships. Meaning that free time spent sitting and sharing stories with the parish workers as we crack open G-nuts (peanuts in the US) or enjoying the company of a “mama” as she sews my tailor-made outfit are as valuable — if not more, in my opinion — to my two year experience in Tanzania as lesson planning, teaching, or sitting in staff meetings.


What makes you laugh?

People who crack themselves up. Nothing brings me more joy than watching someone gasp for air because they were laughing too much at their own awful, non-coherent joke.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college? How did this lead you to JVC?

My engagement in courses on multiculturalism dramatically made me aware of personal and systemic societal conflict in the US and on-campus. I was so inspired by my fellow classmates and professors during those moments of raw dialogue and emotion. There was a time when we were asked to draft and perform a monologue about our own racial fears. I shared my fears, resentment and embarrassment of my own race with tears of hurt and hatred of white privilege running down my face. It was incredibly cathartic and powerful. In that moment, I resolved to never lend satisfaction to white privilege, to be proud of who I am.

Matthew Boughton
Houston, TX

Matthew Boughton

Asylum Coordinator, YMCA International
Michigan State University ’14
Major: International Relations
Fun Fact: An avid science fiction fan –say the words “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” and he’s there!


Who is your role model and why?

I have a multitude of Saints and heroes who inspire me. Some of them are obvious: Jesus, Gandhi, MLK Jr., and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Others are less well known: Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who used his diplomatic privileges to save countless Jews from the Holocaust by handing out protected passports to neutral Sweden. There are incredible tales of his bravery and compassion, but he died in a Soviet prison before he could be recognized. His selflessness, nonviolent and heroic actions strike a chord within me.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about and why?

I am most passionate about the plight of civilians caught in wars or being persecuted in their own country. The ones who have done nothing but being who they are and where they are, and for that they suffer. I believe it is the responsibility of everyone who has the necessary privilege to speak for the voiceless and defend the helpless. If you are a Christian, “Love thy neighbor” should not be a suggestion but a duty.


Tell us something you’re excited about/looking forward to at your placement.

I am excited to work with a group of displaced peoples. In Houston I will be working with asylum keepers. I have learned that asylees (different than refugees) are already outside of their country and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution. Working with asylees will give me a chance to see an important side of international displacement.


What did you get your degree in? How and why did you choose your college/major?

I received my BA in International Relations from Michigan State University. In high school I contemplated a number of different ideas for a career: from archaeology to journalism. International Relations was the natural fit: I was born in the US but have dual citizenship from British parents; and I grew up moving from one African country to another as my father worked in agricultural development. I hope to use that major to work with refugees or as a conflict mediator.

MC Larme
San Jose, CA

MC Larme

Rape Crisis Advocate, YWCA of Silicon Valley
University of Notre Dame 14
Major: Psychology; Public Service, minor
Fun Fact: Loves bad puns, Telephone Pictionary, and unfortunate typos


What drew you to JVC?

The fact that it strives to develop the whole person. I liked the emphasis of awareness and growth. It seemed like a supportive yet stretching way to spend my first year out of college. It was going to be formative — JVC sends you to a new place with new people and a new job. I am into exploring, and JVC supports that.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

The learning. Learning to let go, learning to enable people to take what they need, rather than imparting my natural human desire to be needed and to be helpful into situations where my “helping” is not what’s best for the other person, learning to ask for help, learning to be cool with the process. It’s okay to be unfinished.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

Your JVC year is not just a year out of your life. Not just a year spent living in a way you’ll never experience again. It’s a year living to uncover the things that challenge you and the things that make you whole, and to weave them into your life beyond your year in JVC.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college? How did this lead you to JVC?

My summer in NYC at a Cristo Rey high school in Harlem. I was placed through a Notre Dame service-learning scholarship program. I loved getting to know the students and seeing their progress through the summer. Their personalities were so raw and authentic. They kept it real. It was the first time I had ever been excited to go to work every day. Through JVC I get to experience a similar mix of direct work with people and spirituality.