Like many seniors, Sarah Connell, an English major who is graduating this year from Fordham College at Rose Hill, has major plans for the summer and beyond. They are no different than the volunteer work she did for soup kitchens and the Boys and Girls Clubs during her junior and senior year.
During the summer, Connell will be working as the waterfront director for Camp Putnam, a nonprofit summer camp for at-risk children in Worchester, Mass., which she has worked at for the last eight summers. Following that, she plans to work in the Worcester Public School System as a secondary English and language arts teacher. Having spent the last year at Fordham student teaching in the Bronx, she is ready to devote her talents to that community.
“When I was 14, I taught a little girl how to ride a bike at Camp Putnam. There is nothing quite like the feeling of teaching a little girl something that will stay with her for the rest of her life,” she said. “That was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.”
On May 15, Connell was one of 25 students honored by the Office of Campus Ministry for their dedication to one-year volunteer programs, working at community-based organizations and nonprofits or pursuing graduate studies in social services. The ceremony, which honored students who joined groups such as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), Teach America and PLACE Corps, featured guest speaker Cristina Dominguez, a social worker who works with ex-gang members in Los Angeles.
Fordham Community Service Program Director Sandra Lobo Jost said the ceremony was important because the students’ dedication personifies the Jesuit saying, “Men and Women for Others.”
“We are proud of their passion for our Jesuit ideals and, therefore, want to publicly acknowledge their commitment,” she said.
Michael Devon Powell, an American studies major who is scheduled to leave in September for an assignment teaching secondary English in Eastern Europe with the Peace Corps, and who was also honored, said she pursued her assignment, in part, because it seemed to be the most challenging one available.
“I know this sounds cliché, but honestly since I was a little kid, I always knew that one day I’d serve in the Peace Corps,” she said. “My parents and grandparents instilled in me the importance of giving back more than you receive, so dedicating my time to service has always felt right. I also knew that I wanted to spend a few years living abroad, and what better way than during two years of service to the community you live in?”