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
  • 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
  • Ryan Knott
    Ryan Knott
    Dodoma, Tanzania
  • Christie Alonso
    Christie Alonso
    Tacna, Peru
  • 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
  • Benjamin Moses Hill
    Benjamin Moses Hill
    Andahuaylillas, Peru
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.

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.


 

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.


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.

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.

 

 

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