Post-graduation, college students are left to decide what they plan on doing with their lives. Some students start working right away while others may take a year off or attend graduate school. A few recent alumni decided to dedicate a year of volunteer service to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is an international full-time volunteer program where over 10,000 men and women has served communities worldwide. Chris Hoey, an electrical engineering graduate from the class of 2017, joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as an immigrant community organizer for Global Cleveland.
“I got involved in Jesuit Volunteers after an extremely long discernment process of wondering what I was going to do after graduation. I dedicated so much of my time in undergrad to campus ministry and social action that a year of post-grad service seemed like a natural fit. JVC was particularly interesting because it allowed service opportunities in departments other than educational/school settings. My service work is much more institutional than the work I did at Manhattan College. It’s less learning about the issues and more advocating and creating tangible efforts to mitigate the issues,” said Hoey.
Hoey’s job entails taking an administrative and programmatic lead to the organization’s naturalization efforts including attending every naturalization ceremony in Northeast Ohio to welcome new citizens, running training sessions for community navigators to teach others about the naturalization process and the barriers in place that limit immigrants from obtaining citizenship.
Another alum, Caroline O’Connell, class of 2017 environmental engineering graduate, is currently living in New Orleans and volunteering at Cafe Reconcile as a program assistant.
“Café Reconcile is a non-profit workforce training program in the restaurant and hospitality industry for youth ages 16-24 who have been disconnected from education and employment. My job is support our young people in any way specifically in regard to gaining employment and providing wrap around services that include housing, banking, child care, clinical referrals, education, involvement in the judicial system, and connections to outside resources. Additionally, I live in a community with 6 other Jesuit volunteers who all work at different non-profits around the city. We have commitments to each other that include spirituality and community nights once a week as well as community dinners and a shared budget,” said O’Connell.
While at Manhattan College, O’Connell was involved in the L.O.V.E. program. She participated on L.O.V.E. Jamaica 2015 and L.O.V.E. New Orleans 2017, was a leader for L.O.V.E. Jamaica 2016 and was a member of the L.O.V.E. board.
“I think all my of my experiences through the L.O.V.E. program and campus ministry opened new paths for me that I never even considered before college. The L.O.V.E. program has taught me the importance of educating ourselves on why nations like Jamaica are so stricken with poverty, why intolerance exist, why the voices of so many are purposely silenced. After returning from Jamaica, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was on the right path toward my purpose. I discovered my passion and realized that I am finally asking the right questions. Over the past few months, as I was reflecting on my experiences, I realized that I had to follow that passion and drive that I found here and that’s what led me to do JVC. It’s hard to speak on my experiences with JVC as I’m currently still in the middle of it, but I do know that this has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, and eye-opening experiences I have ever done,” said O’Connell.
The L.O.V.E. program at Manhattan College is based on the five pillars of Lasallian Values, respect for all people, quality education, inclusive community, concern for the poor and social justice, and faith in the presence of God. JVC’s mission of spirituality, community, social justice, and simple living encompasses Lasallian values. Kevin Moran, psychology graduate from class of 2016, is a volunteer at the nonprofit organization Journey to New Life, where he has woven these values into every aspect of his life.
“Journey to New Life, is a program that helps people transition from prison back into society. We provide case management as well as housing assistance. JVC has different placements all throughout the country, but I picked this one because the prison system is something that has always interested me. This volunteer work is way different from any other that I have participated in. When you think of volunteering you think of going somewhere for a few hours or days and then you go home. Every day I wake and I’m volunteering. My business card says, ‘Jesuit Volunteer,’ I’m known around town as a volunteer, it basically becomes a part of your identity,” said Moran.
All Jesuit volunteers are dedicating a year of service to their organizations before moving on to full time careers.
“As of now, I am not sure what the next few years will look like, but I do know that I will continue to explore the possibilities that new questions will bring and always continue to reflect on my experiences with both JVC and Manhattan College,” said O’Connell.