I graduated from Xavier in May 2013 with a major in Philosophy, Politics, and the Public and minors in History, Political Science, and Spanish. During my time at Xavier, I could most likely be found in the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice where I worked as a student worker for 3 years, had many leadership roles, or just hung out with the amazing staff and my friends. Through the programming of CFJ, I was able to blend my passion for justice and spirituality through service programs like Alternative Breaks as well as leading retreats. One of the most influential programs I was a part of through CFJ was Contemplatives In Action (CIA). This group of upperclassmen met once a week to discuss a range of deep, tough topics as well as reflect on past experiences and explore the future together.
Outside of CFJ, I was dedicated to my studies. The Philosophy, Politics, and the Public program gave me many opportunities to explore my passions academically and get hands-on experiences. Through PPP, I was able to work in a community garden, be a part of a congressional campaign, advocate for policy in Washington D.C. and travel to Paris. I am originally from Toledo, Ohio, where I lived until I moved to Xavier.
In the summer of 2013, I travelled to Central and Eastern Europe to do research on community organizing in post-Communist countries. In seven weeks, I went to Slovakia, Romania, Poland, and Hungary attending conferences and conducting interviews with community organizers, members of those community organizations, and learning about the implementation of democracy from people a part of civil society organizations. The question I was attempting to answer revolved around the implementation of democracy: In these post-Communist European countries, how had democracy been implemented and what is the effectiveness of bottom-up approaches of democracy? From my various conversations, conferences, interviews, and experiences, I learned that community organizing most definitely has a place within these countries, but the method and practice of community organizing faces difficult obstacles due to history, distrust, and lack of education or knowledge. I feel that I left with more questions than I had answers for, which was not a bad thing. Many other sub-topics came up ranging from the role of the Catholic Church to youth organizing to minority organizing especially with the Romas. All of these subtopics have their place in the larger question of democracy. I left the seven weeks taking a more critical look at democracy both in newly formed democratic countries and in the United States. There is something to be learned from democratic countries that have existed for 200 years and those that have only been around for 20 years.
What They're Doing Now
Currently, I am in my second year as a Jesuit Volunteer with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Portland, Oregon. My placement s with Street Roots, a street newspaper whose mission is to create social change not only through the actual paper but also through creating a community with people experiencing poverty and homelessness. I am the volunteer coordinator and vendor program assistant, but also do some editorial work as well as housing advocacy work at the municipal and state levels. Following my time doing several years of service, I plan on attending graduate school for public policy or theology or finding a job doing work around the issue of affordable housing.