In my senior year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, I made the very intentional decision to volunteer for a year. I moved across the country to New York City, a place I had only visited once before, agreeing to not make money and work full time. It was a formative time for me that has shaped who I am today, and will continue to as I grow as a professional working with immigrants. With Good Shepherd Volunteers, I had the opportunity to work as a counselor to 40 young adults aging out of foster care, teaching the tools needed to be independent individuals. This experience sharpened my facilitation skills and connected me to relationships of great value. Influenced by my own family history and experiences as a first-generation Latina, I decided that after completing my year with GSV, I would continue working with issues of social justice and equality.
Currently, I am the Associate Coordinator of Service-learning at Fordham University. As justice education, the service-learning program connects undergraduates to the local community while engaging with them in conversations about the complex, diverse, and complicated world we live in.
I earned a certificate from Fordham’s Latin America and Latino Studies Institute in fall of 2009 and am currently working on a Masters in Sociology at Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Once completing my degree, I hope to work with new immigrants from Latin America, hopefully in California. This work is so important to me and to our society. Improving the arrival process and acculturation process for immigrants is working towards a more just society for all.
The lessons of my year with GSV and the memories of that year have stayed with me. It was such a valuable experience in my formation into adulthood. I have stayed connected GSV by helping facilitate retreats and meet with new volunteers. This relates to the essence of what I enjoy most in my life – developing, sustaining, and nurturing genuine relationships of mutuality.
I have moved to Harlem after completing my year with GSV and haven’t left since!