JV PROFILES

 

Jesuit Volunteers are passionate women and men who have a commitment to social justice.

This year’s JVs come from 26 states and the District of Columbia and represent 109 alma maters from across the U.S. They come with a diversity of educational and professional experiences, each bringing a unique background and perspective to their positions

Click on the photos below to view our current Jesuit Volunteers’ profiles.

 

  • All
  • JV Profiles
  • Teal Trujillo
    Teal Trujillo
    San Francisco
  • Mary Mikko
    Mary Mikko
    Mobile, AL
  • Giovanna Nelkin
    Giovanna Nelkin
    Austin, TX
  • Sarah Sleevi
    Sarah Sleevi
    Syracuse, NY
  • Matt Gatti
    Matt Gatti
    Detroit, MI
  • Renna Ayyash
    Renna Ayyash
    New York City (Harlem)
  • Ryan Pfluke
    Ryan Pfluke
    Nashville, TN
  • Danielle Schiestle
    Danielle Schiestle
    Washington DC
  • Garrett Rice
    Garrett Rice
    Dodoma, Tanzania
  • Ani Haroian
    Ani Haroian
    Tacna, Peru
  • Abigail Maristela
    Abigail Maristela
    Raleigh, NC
  • Ben Gooley
    Ben Gooley
    Santiago, Chile
  • Karla Burns
    Karla Burns
    Andahuaylillas, Peru
  • Giacobbe Byrd
    Giacobbe Byrd
    San Francisco
  • Alyssa Perez
    Alyssa Perez
    Belize City, Belize
  • Patrick Humpal
    Patrick Humpal
    Santiago, Chile
  • Antonio Taiga Guterres
    Antonio Taiga Guterres
    Punta Gorda, Belize
  • Robert Callus
    Robert Callus
    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Deborah Adewale
    Deborah Adewale
    St. Francis, SD
  • Courtney Kern
    Courtney Kern
    Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia
Teal Trujillo
San Francisco

Teal Trujillo

Law Clerk, The Eviction Defense Collaborative
Saint Louis University 2016
Major: Psychology

Fun Fact: Is notorious for telling terrible (AKA amazing) dad jokes.


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

I like to paint copies of famous paintings. I am not the most creative but I enjoy the challenge of trying to make a perfect replica. For me, art has always been an outlet for self-expression, stress release, and creating beauty.


Who is your role model and why?

My role model is Jesus, which may sound cliché. This year of JVC has been about exploring the life of Jesus—not as someone who brought harmony and peace, but as someone who was a radical. He sat with sinners and did things that were very countercultural, which is something I am also striving to do as a Jesuit Volunteer.


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

Living in St. Louis during the riots in Ferguson greatly impacted my views. I was a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar at Saint Louis University and I understood that our world still battles racial inequality but I wasn’t aware of how much oppression exists in our systems. I am now passionate about fighting institutionalized injustice and providing equal access to resources.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

The Eviction Defense Collaborative helps 6,750 tenants annually respond to their eviction lawsuits in San Francisco. Serving that many people makes for very busy days and not every client I help will be able to stay in their home. However on a macro level, my position helps to preserve the diversity of this city and mitigate the affordable housing crisis, which is pretty awesome.


How did you choose your college?

I chose Saint Louis University because I wanted to attend a Jesuit university and explore a new part of the country (I am from the Southwest). I left college with many formative experiences, a degree in Psychology, and a love for BBQ.

Mary Mikko
Mobile, AL

Mary Mikko

Intake Assistant, South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program
University of Detroit Mercy 2016
Major: Criminal Justice


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

I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on, from Flannery O’Connor to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Nicholas Sparks. I also enjoy being outdoors. From getting lost in the woods to getting lost in a book, I enjoy time to myself.


Who is your role model and why?

The academic advisor from my first year of college. She has so much love for her students. I aspire to be like her and have the love for my job and community that she does.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

Hearing the stories of our clients and the joy in their voices, along with seeing the relief in their faces when we are able to help them or direct them to other resources.


What do you wish other people knew about JVC?

JVC is much more than simple living and sacrifice. It is about walking with those you are serving and sharing your story with those in your community. It is very rewarding.


How did you choose your college and major?

I chose UDM for their location in the city and their vision to rebuild the surrounding area. I chose my major because I have always enjoyed the law and wanted to learn more about the enforcement aspect and how I can make a change.


What activities were you involved in during college?

I was involved in University Ministry, Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, Student Government, Student Advisory Board for University Ministry, and the Pep Band.


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

One year I was one of the coordinators for the first year students’ retreat and I worked closely with the JV that worked at UDM. Together the JV and I worked hard to put together a good retreat. It was then I realized that I wanted to do something more after graduation and from there I started to discern a year of service.

Giovanna Nelkin
Austin, TX

Giovanna Nelkin

Case Manager & Group Facilitator – Saint Louise House (2016)
Floor Monitor & Volunteer Coordinator – Pope Francis Center, Detroit (2015)
Villanova University 2016
Major: Political Science and Communication
Fun Fact: In high school was voted Class Giggler which is still accurate today.


Who is your role model and why?

At 23 my mother left her home in Uruguay and started her life in America. Mother Goose, aka my mom, works as an advocate for migrant workers, raised my sister and me, and is working toward her general education diploma. She only has one serious flaw–passive-aggressively asking when my sister and me when she will be a grandma. On a more serious note, I aspire to be as strong, loving, funny, and wise as my mom.


How would your family and friends describe you?

I think that’s just a way to ask how I would describe myself, to which I would reply, “I’m a real hoot.” However, I asked my friends and family what they think of me and their responses were: Socially-conscious, laughs at everything, cries at everything, and has the biggest heart.


Share a little about the moment you got your welcome call from JVC: 

I was standing on the mezzanine of the Pope Francis Center, where I served my first year with JVC, when my program coordinator’s name popped up on my phone. After being told where I would be serving, I thanked my PC and got off the phone. My eyes filled with tears of joy and fear, I took a breath to calm myself, and then called my mom to tell her I was moving to Texas for my second year with JVC. It’s one of the defining moments of my life.


Which social justice issue are you most passionate about and why?

From the perspective of intersectional feminism, it’s not possible to discuss and critique any oppressive structures without looking at other structures because they’re all connected. I spend a lot of time discussing the white, heteronormative, male perspective that dominates media and education. I also discuss concerns around treatment of animals and our planet when looking at products we use and waste we produce.


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

Living in the live music capital of the world, Austin, Texas, gives us ample opportunities to see bands live. However, I want my community to get invited backstage after the show or become good enough friends with a band that they give us VIP tickets. Something along those lines that will make for a good story.

Sarah Sleevi
Syracuse, NY

Sarah Sleevi

Emergency Services Outreach Worker at Catholic Charities
Wheeling Jesuit University 2016
Major: Psychology
Fun Fact: She’s a new vegan who loves trying out wacky plant-based recipes!


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

It might seem strange but I love to walk through cemeteries. The atmosphere is so peaceful and I find it calming to read the names and dates on the gravestones. I also enjoy good conversation, classic novels, old movies, and singing Hamilton (and other show tunes) too loudly in the shower.


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

I find nothing more devastating than children around the globe whose basic needs are not met. During college, I served at an after-school program for inner-city youth which provides nutritious meals, tutoring, friendship, and fun activities. Working with these children for four years set my heart on fire and confirmed that I want to dedicate my life to serving youth.


What sports, clubs, activities or organizations were you a part of in college?

I was involved in theater, student government, symphonic band, vocal groups, our social justice club, campus ministry retreats, service immersion trips and was a resident assistant my senior year.


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

Living in the Mother Jones House in East Wheeling during my sophomore and junior years at WJU molded me into a woman for others. Volunteering at an after-school program opened my eyes to the reality of what the youth in my Wheeling community are facing (obesity, domestic violence, financial instability, structural racism, and more). These experiences ignited a passion within me that I could not ignore, and I decided to do a year of service after graduation before starting an MSW program.

Matt Gatti
Detroit, MI

Matt Gatti

Floor Monitor and Supply Coordinator, The Pope Francis Center
The Catholic University of America 2016
Major: Politics
Fun Fact: The character Carl that Andy Samberg plays in one single episode of Parks and Rec makes him laugh.


Who is your role model and why?

Dorothy Day has played an important role in my formation as a person. From her conversion to her humility and solidarity with the poor; her life has been an inspiration and challenge.


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

I love to run half and full marathons. Running long distances gives me the opportunity to be both active and contemplative as I process the events of my daily life.


Share a little about the moment you got your welcome call from JVC:

I was getting ready for baccalaureate mass the day before graduation. That moment brought my senior year full circle. It marked an end to my time at CUA and the beginning of my experience as a JV.


Tell us something you’re looking forward to at your placement?

I am excited for the humbling experience of playing a small yet vital role in meeting the most basic physiological needs of men and women experiencing homelessness in Detroit.


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

I led a service project through campus ministry in which we took leftover food from the cafeteria on Friday afternoons to men and women experiencing homelessness in Franklin Square, a large park in downtown D.C. It was beautiful to see so many students show up each week to form community with our brothers and sisters on the street. Friday food runs showed me the importance of good leadership at the intersection of faith and social justice.

Renna Ayyash
New York City (Harlem)

Renna Ayyash

Tenant Services Assistant, Breaking Ground
University of Michigan 2016
Major: Philosophy and English
Fun Fact: Very active in her university’s Tae Kwon Do club as an officer and instructor – she even won a few medals in tournaments!


How would your friends or family describe you?

Adventurous, intelligent, and someone with no “stranger danger.” I think they were probably more worried about me moving to NYC more than I am because of that.


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

I love writing because it is so rewarding. It’s therapeutic, artistic, and through it I learn a lot about myself. Keeping a journal is underrated; just ten minutes a day of writing can help you in so many ways!


What drew you to JVC?

Two friends from college who graduated before me participated in JVC and had amazing stories to share about the program. Upon more research, I knew JVC would be a good fit because I really appreciate JVC’s four values.


How did you choose your major?

Most people would say that a double major in Philosophy and English is equivalent to a double major in unemployment, but I pursued these disciplines because they invited me to open my mind to different ideas.


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

I was involved with the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan. The experiences I had while working with incarcerated youth and adults allowed me to see the marginalizing effects our criminal justice system (and broader society) has on people. It allowed me a space to listen to the stories of inmates, and this led me to JVC because I wanted to continue to be a source of encouragement and help for people whom society has marginalized.

 

Ryan Pfluke
Nashville, TN

Ryan Pfluke

Street Outreach, The Oasis Center
Le Moyne College 2016
Major: Psychology with minors in Biology and Religion
Fun Fact: Loves creating characters in his head for stories – storytelling is a favorite pursuit of Ryan’s.


Who is your role model and why?

Two of my professors from college – women who had the passion in their fields that I want to have in all the work I do. Their compassion for others is something that I can only aspire to match.


What might people be surprised to know about you?

I’ve had two heart surgeries for medical conditions I was born with. I try not to act like there was anything ever wrong with me, so when people find out about this, it tends to shock them.


What drew you to JVC?

I had a professor in college who was a JV in the past, and she turned me on to the program. Another professor told me it would be something she could see me doing. As these were two of my favorite professors, I took their advice and applied.


Tell us something you’re looking forward to at your placement?

I’m really excited to get to know my fellow JVs and explore a new area. New adventures and places are some of my favorite things in the world, and exploring them with a new group of people sounds like a good thing to me!


How did you choose your major?

I chose my major kind of as a fluke; I started a biology major and got shut out of needed classes. I checked out some electives and loved psychology more.


What was your most inspiring experience you had in college?

Becoming the president of Le Moyne’s LGBT+ club and using that platform to spread a positive image around the school. Realizing how happy my school was to help promote a positive LGBT+ image was amazing.

Danielle Schiestle
Washington DC

Danielle Schiestle

Pregnancy Center Program Assistant, The Northwest Center
Marquette University 2016
Major: Biomedical Sciences
Fun Fact: Llamas are her favorite animals


What drew you to JVC?

Coming from a Jesuit school, I was inspired to look for something after college that would be a fulfilling experience for myself, my faith, and my community. JVC provided me with an opportunity to combine my passion for social justice with a program that challenges me to live out my faith through action.


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

I’ve heard that the neighborhood we’re going to be living in holds a neighborhood clean-up the first Saturday of every month and I’m looking forward to joining in that effort with my community!


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

Health disparities. I believe that health is a human right. Health care and medicine have always fascinated me, and throughout my college career as I dove into the more social side of medicine I began to question why certain people receive health care while others do not. It’s hard to believe that people living in the same city may have a 15+ year difference in life expectancy due to their race or socioeconomic status.


How did you choose your college?

I chose Marquette because of its Catholic, Jesuit identity. I toured the school and simply fell in love. Milwaukee is an incredible city and offered so many opportunities to college-age students willing to branch out and explore.


What sports, clubs, activities or organizations were you a part of in college?

I was a part of Orientation Staff, Pi Beta Phi sorority, Hunger Clean-Up, Companions in Leadership, and Senior Challenge.


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

One of my most inspiring experiences at Marquette was attending the first ever Social Justice in Action conference. The conference allowed me to listen to all types of community partners and their experiences regarding social justice work, as well as learn how to be a better ally and how to explore my privilege. This happened as I was finishing the interviewing process with JVC and it left no doubt in my mind that I wanted to spend a year working to strive for a more just society.

Garrett Rice
Dodoma, Tanzania

Garrett Rice

Teacher/Counselor, St. Peter Claver High School
Regis University 2016
Major: English
Fun Fact: Has participated in musical theatre for the past seven years.


Share a little about the moment you got your offer from JVC?

I was at my work-study job at school when my Program Coordinator called and gave me the incredible news. I was so caught off guard I spilled my coffee on my papers and then proceeded to have a celebratory solo dance party. I then ran straight to my supervisor who was my reference for the application and told her. Great day!


Tell us something you’re looking forward to at your placement?

I’m thrilled to work with the amazing students of SPCHS and learn from them each new day (and also beat them in soccer at lunch).


How did you choose your major?

I pursued an English degree because of my love for creative writing and literature, plus the department at my college was incredible. I’m so excited to share my passion for reading and writing with my students.


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

Each semester I performed in an annual Concert for a Cause which started as a small open mic night my freshman year. With each new semester, the fundraising goals grew larger and the impact spread wider with each person involved. To blend my love for music and social justice was an incredible and memorable experience.

 

Ani Haroian
Tacna, Peru

Ani Haroian

English Teacher, Miguel Pro K-12 School
Rockhurst University 2016
Major: Spanish Education
Fun Fact: Her name, Ani, is a ruined city in Armenia with the nickname, “City of 1,001 churches.”


Share a little about the moment you got your offer from JVC?

I had just gotten home from a long day of teaching and sat down on the couch to do some grading. I received a call from an unknown number but was not thinking it would be JVC as I had returned from Discernment Weekend just a few days earlier. When I heard my Program Coordinator’s voice on the line I froze, but as he told me about my placement I felt a calming presence take away the fears and anxieties I had over the past few months. I took the weekend to think about it, but I knew instantly that God was calling me to accept this mission.


Tell us something you’re looking forward to at your placement?

Developing relationships with the local community – that is where one can begin to understand the host culture in an effort to better serve the people of one’s host country.


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

As a teacher, I know the power each of us holds when we walk into the classroom. Solving the issue of inadequate education begins with each educator. The decision we make to put our students’ needs before our own will impact the educational system if we persevere.


How did you choose your major?

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but it was my first Spanish professor at RU who helped me identify my passion for the Spanish language and my desire to share it with others—inside and outside the classroom.


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

I spent 10 weeks at a Jesuit secondary school in Gulu, Uganda before my senior year at Rockhurst. During this time I learned the meaning of accompaniment and of my desire to live a life of service in whatever community I am a part of.

Abigail Maristela
Raleigh, NC

Abigail Maristela

Paralegal, Battered Immigrant Project
Xavier University 2016
Major: Psychology and Sociology
Fun Fact: She’s been to five continents.


What makes you laugh?

Oh, the usual– Loca the Pug videos, my grandparents, and bathroom humor.


How would your friends or family describe you?

They would say I am wild at times and a bit of a prankster but balanced by a deep care for others; determined, contagiously passionate, brave, and loyal. Oh, and that I am always traveling.


What drew you to JVC?

Social justice is so integrated into the JVC lifestyle. I appreciate that, as a JV, I will be able to work for social justice at my placement and also live it out at home and everywhere in between. I’m grateful that JVC gives me the opportunity and support to live more intentionally and meaningfully. I am excited to grow, live simply, and in solidarity with my JV and Raleigh communities.


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

EcoJustice. I spent the summer researching climate-based migration and the human effects of climate change in Kiribati, one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change (here’s a small plug, look it up!). It’s so unfair that a country that does not contribute to climate change faces the direct effects, while the polluters keep on polluting with insufficient reprimands. Environmental injustice directly affects food and water security, public health, migration, race relations, power relations, education, and consumerism. It is also something that unites all of humanity.


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

I spent a life-changing semester studying in Cape Town, South Africa through Marquette University’s Service Learning program. In Cape Town, I discovered a passion for working with refugees and other displaced people. Living with 20 like-minded students fostered the social justice activist inside me, helped me be the best version of myself, and helped me do the best work for my clients. I am looking forward to having another supportive family through JVC while working with vulnerable communities.

Ben Gooley
Santiago, Chile

Ben Gooley

Pastoral Ministry and English Aide, Colegio Lecaros
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University 2016
Major: English Creative Writing


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

Anything outdoors, particularly running and hiking, because nature inspires me. Nature is one of the places where I encounter God most because of all of the beauty it holds.


What drew you to JVC?

The four values of JVC drew me in because they are already ideas I value and I wanted to learn how to live them out even more deeply. I am excited in particular about the opportunity to walk with my community mates, to keep each other accountable, and to help each other become better people.


Tell us something you’re looking forward to at your placement?

I have always been deeply rooted in my faith and I can’t wait to share that faith with others. I am excited to talk to the students about their faith and life experiences. I look forward to really getting to know them and their stories so I can better understand how to accompany them in their journeys.


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

During the last three semesters of college, I wrote a fiction novella about homelessness because I noticed how novels and short stories have impacted me. I wanted to share my passion about a social justice issue to inspire others to care more about the issue.

 

Karla Burns
Andahuaylillas, Peru

Karla Burns

Pastoral Assistant, Parroquia San Pedro
College of the Holy Cross 2016
Major: Chemistry
Fun Fact: She’s a huge prankster and loves seeing someone’s reaction when something happens that they least expect!


Who is your role model and why?

I really look up to women who empower each other. I would not be where I am today without these women that serve as my teachers, mentors, mothers, sisters, and friends. They are intelligent, kind, supportive, well-respected, loving, and generous. These women not only make things happen for themselves but share their gifts and talents with the world so that others can be the best versions of themselves.


What might people be surprised to know about you?

I love Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I worked at a scoop shop in Vermont for three summers and I still have all of the flavors memorized. The ice cream is not only delicious but it also addresses social justice issues while being socially and economically conscientious. It’s how I started to see a relationship between my money and its impact on my community. I guess you could say that working at a scoop shop contributed to my path toward JVC by sparking my interest in social justice issues and business ethics.


How would your friends or family describe you?

In one word: Adventurous. They would also tell you that I befriend strangers wherever I go and eat a lot of food. I am a foodie and love to eat!


Share the moment you got your offer call from JVC?

I will never forget the feeling that came over me when I knew for certain JVC was the next step for me. At College of the Holy Cross I received my first Communion and then received my second Communion at JVC Discernment Weekend. I could see that as I was leaving Holy Cross, a place where I found my faith, God gave me this new opportunity to continue to explore and deepen my faith with JVC.


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

Having spontaneous dance parties!

Giacobbe Byrd
San Francisco

Giacobbe Byrd

Case Supervisor, Friendship House
Georgetown University 2016
Major: English and Government
Fun Fact: Knows a great deal of the Hamilton soundtrack by heart.


What makes you laugh?

I love to (and am pretty easy to make) laugh. I am a huge fan of Comedy Bang! Bang! (both the podcast and the television show [but mostly the podcast]).


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

Going to concerts, especially seeing new and local musicians, is one of my favorite things to do in my free time. Music inspires my own creative pursuits and it’s also a great way to see different parts of a new city.


Tell us something you’re looking forward to at your placement:

The opportunity to put the ideal of being a “person for and with others” into action. I have heard that saying throughout my 17 years of Jesuit education and have come to deeply value the philosophy that informs mission statements like it. At Friendship House, I will have the privilege to act upon this guiding phrase in the real world by being in solidarity with individuals at some of the most difficult times of their life. I look forward to serving them in the best, most empathetic way possible.


How did you choose your university and major?

I chose Georgetown because it is a globally-minded institution that emphasizes the importance of using one’s acquired knowledge to give back to her/his community. The English and Government courses that I took both inspired me, and provided me with the tools to live out the school’s social justice-oriented mission through a combination of my words and actions.

Alyssa Perez
Belize City, Belize

Alyssa Perez

Librarian, St. Martin de Porres Primary School
Loyola Marymount University 2015
Major: Theological Studies and Political Science
Fun Fact: Went to the Ellen DeGeneres show three times with friends, and because they danced so much, she now has a couch given to her by Ellen.


What drew you to JVC?

I was very motivated by my time spent in Argentina with the Casa program. After a semester of accompaniment and community living there, I knew JVC was exactly what I wanted to do after graduation. I am continuously inspired by the impact of JVC not only on the lives of the FJVs that I have met, but also in places like Chile where I had the privilege of visiting last year before applying.


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

I enjoy listening to music not only because I will never get tired of listening to Justin Bieber, but also because music can take you almost anywhere. I can hear a song and it reminds me of my semester abroad, or I think my best friend and I singing Karaoke in our room to Sam Smith, or of a dance video that my friends made when we were bored.


Who is your role model and why?

One person who comes to mind most is the moderator of our college service organization (the LMU Belles). Donna has been such a light in my life. She handles challenges that come her way with such grace and optimism; I feel honored to have been close to her during my time in college. I continue to be inspired by her love even here in Belize.


What is most rewarding about your JVC position?

I get to be “Ms. Library Lady” to all of the students at St. Martin de Porres Primary School! Even though I don’t get to teach them in an official capacity, I have a lot of opportunities to engage them in learning. I get to help them become interested in learning about things that they would have never been interested in before. Our library is a great resource center, yet some of the best moments with my students are during break periods when we are just hanging out talking about music or their lives.

Patrick Humpal
Santiago, Chile

Patrick Humpal

Red Apostolica Ignaciana
DePaul University  2015
Major: Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse
Fun Fact: Has a deep, undying love for the music of Ke$ha.


 What drew you to JVC?

Knowing that I have been formed in the Vincentian tradition at DePaul, I wanted to experience a different charism of Catholicism. Naturally the Jesuits came to mind. I am beyond excited to dive into Ignatian spirituality and the Jesuit tradition to see how they complement and differ from the Vincentian tradition.


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

My junior year I lived in an intentional service and faith-based community called the Vincent and Louise House with nine other students. In many ways, it was like JVC but for undergrads and was one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. It gave me a taste of intentional community and at the end of it all I knew I wanted more. I wanted another experience of devoting myself to the tenets of faith, service and justice while living in intentional community. JVC seemed like the perfect next step for me!


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

I love anything related to music—from writing, to listening, to going to shows, music makes my soul come alive. I also absolutely love cooking. Not only is it relaxing for me, but there is something powerful about eating food that I made with my own two hands, especially when it is shared with someone! Hospitality and shared, communal meals are two important values for me!


What makes you laugh?

Stephen Colbert. The man is a satirical genius. I also tend to laugh at myself a lot!


What social justice issues are you most passionate about?

Prison abolition has close to my heart for years. At DePaul I had the opportunity to work with many youth who had experiences in the juvenile justice system and a few opportunities to work in prisons alongside some of the guys on the inside. These experiences and the stories and relationships I gained from them truly shined a light on the injustices of mass incarceration.

Antonio Taiga Guterres
Punta Gorda, Belize

Antonio Taiga Guterres

Director of Retreat Ministries, St. Peter Claver Parish
Loyola Marymount University ’15
Major: Health & Human Sciences
Fun Fact: Likes journaling, garden gnomes, and going on adventures


Who is your role model and why?

I have a lot of role models and mentors in my life but one that comes to mind is a man named Tyrone. He ran the food pantry for the homeless community in Hollywood I served with for the past twenty years. He is one who always stood for justice, humility, solidarity, and putting love into action. Before I left, he told me, “the homeless don’t get a day off, so neither will I.”


How would your friends or family describe you?

My friends and family would probably describe me as someone who tries to find meaning in everything, loves having deep conversations and reflections, sharing stories, being outside hiking, reading, and writing. My faith is also very important to me and a big part of my life.


What might people be surprised to know about you?

I went to Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps through the Platoon Leaders Course. It’s taught me a lot about gratitude, intentionality, and leadership.


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

During my time at LMU, I served as president of Magis Service Organization, an all-male service organization built upon the Jesuit ideal of the greater glory of God and is founded upon the principles of service, spirituality, and diversity. Magis has been an environment that has constantly challenged me to focus on my character rather than my reputation and has challenged me to stand up for what I believe. This environment of intentionality and growth to become men and women with and for others led me to JVC.

Robert Callus
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Robert Callus

English Teacher, Loyola High School
University of Notre Dame ’15
Major: Pre-medical Sciences and Theology
Fun Fact: Has a twin, won a 5lb. chocolate bar as a kid


What are your plans for this summer?

The summer before I leave for Tanzania is actually pretty busy! First, I am sitting in Noosa, Australia, on the last few days of a tour of the country with the Notre Dame Folk Choir. I’ll have some time at home before JVC Orientation in July, but then right after I will be spending a month living at the Peter Claver Catholic Worker House in South Bend, Indiana, as a summer volunteer. Until I leave in December, I will be substitute teaching and working the after-school program at my old elementary/middle school, anxiously awaiting my time with JVC!


Who is your role model and why?

Perhaps this is cheesy, but I think my role model would be St. Martin of Tours. Martin was a soldier in France until one day on a march he saw a beggar on the side of the road. He dismounted his horse, cut his cloak in half and presented half to the beggar. That night, he had a dream of Christ wearing that same half of the cloak and when he awoke, the cloak was fully intact again. He left the military and became a priest and then a bishop. Martin reminds me of the importance of the corporal works of mercy in our mission to see the face of God every day.


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

I’m finding myself more and more passionate about environmental justice. It started out as small acts of sustainability, like using a metal reusable water bottle or reducing electricity usage at home. However, I took a very interesting class on the ethics of public health that dealt immensely with the dangers of environmental injustices and the implications on the world that made me frustrated and I felt I had to do something. I still have a lot to learn, as I strive to contribute to the fight against global climate change.


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

Learning Kiswahili. Language is such an important window into a culture and I am so humbled at the opportunity to share in this communication and relationship with others in this way.


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

I participated in a program at Notre Dame called the International Summer Service Learning Program, where I was placed in a rural village in Uganda doing HIV/AIDS work in a clinic. I was living at a mission of the Congregation of Holy Cross and I loved the community. It was a hugely formative experience and it confirmed in me my desire to serve and work internationally long-term. There were a number of factors within this experience that led me to JVC, but one of the biggest was being in a community centered on Christ.

Deborah Adewale
St. Francis, SD

Deborah Adewale

Religious Education Teacher, St. Francis Mission
Fordham University ’15
Major: Psychology and Philosophy
Fun Fact: Loves yoga


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

I was at work. After stepping out to take the call, once I heard that I had been accepted to my placement, I was speechless. I dropped to the floor and all I wanted to do was scream. It was amazing.


Who is your role model and why?

My mom is my role model because she is strong and resilient. She raised my sisters and me by herself and she always encourages our dreams and motivates us to be our best selves.


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

I would like to get to know my community by doing active community activities. I really hope to do outdoors activities, like hiking!


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

I got my degree in Psychology and Philosophy. I chose Psychology because I really liked it and it let me explore my interest in human behavior. While I did not really do well in my intro Philosophy classes, I liked what I was learning. So, I decided to take two more classes and they blew me away by challenged me in a whole new way.


What was the most inspiring experience you had in college?

Being the president of the Black Student Alliance was one of the most inspiring experiences in my college. Taking on such responsibility showed me that I could take on the responsibility to lead such an amazing club.

Courtney Kern
Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

Courtney Kern

Teacher, Akoyikoyi School
Creighton University ’15
Major: Social Work; minor in Spanish
Fun Fact: Attended the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and witnessed a very long and confusing curling match


Who is your role model and why?

My role model is my Mom. She is constantly looking for what can be done for everyone else and hardly ever uses the word “I” because she is completely selfless. She shares my passion for social work and solidarity with marginalized populations. I wouldn’t have applied for JVC without her support.


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

I am looking forward to snorkeling a lot with my community! I have only done it once before so crossing it off as a more regular and intense experience will be a great opportunity.


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

I am extremely excited to work with children K-3 at Akoyikoyi School because this is an age group I have not worked with in a few years, as my most recent experiences have been with adults. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to be immersed in another culture and language, and hopefully meeting and forming relationships with the families of my students in the surrounding villages.


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

The most inspiring experience I had while at Creighton was my semester in the Dominican Republic. I learned the beauty and utter despair of walking beside another in solidarity, and I realized the difficulty of acknowledging one’s privilege. I also was lead to some of the most fulfilling and diverse relationships I have, and learned the importance of humility and gratitude. This broadening of my world view lead me to JVC because I wanted to continue to learn and grow, as well as commit to an organization that valued both service and justice.

 

 

Who are Jesuit Volunteers?

76.5% of JVs identify as female
23.5% identify as male

83.2% of JVs are 21 or 22 years old
16.8% are older, and all are under 35 years old

80% of JVs identify themselves as Catholic
84% of JVs identify themselves as White/Caucasian
6.7% as Hispanic or Latino
6% as Asian or Asian American
3.3% as African American or Black
<1% using another race/ethnicity

14% are first generation college students

11.3% have a family member who served as a Jesuit Volunteer