What was your experience with service at Ursinus?
My main site placement while at Ursinus was Phoenixville Area Positive Alternatives (PAPA). After initiating UCARE’s partnership with them, I started as a tutor at their after-school tutoring program at Barkley Elementary. Eventually, I ran the program and did grant writing and other behind the scenes work for them. By volunteering both at the tutoring program and at the office, I was able to get a big picture perspective on how a non-profit operates. What makes PAPA special is that it is not only an academic, intellectual program, it also provides steady emotional and social support, as tutors build relationships of trust and respect with students. PAPA also welcomes the potential of committed social justice leaders at Ursinus, giving us the opportunity to grow into those identities while empowering youth to believe in themselves and their academic and social potential. The mentoring that I received and the level of responsibility that I was given while at PAPA were pivotal in my development as a leader. That’s the beauty of Bonner, UCARE, and our service sites; we are expected to take the risk of challenging the status quo while having peers and mentors by our side who provide the necessary community and personal support to change systems of oppression.
What have you been up to since graduation and how is service part of your life?
Since graduating in May 2016, I have been serving in my hometown, Portland, Oregon, as a Quaker Voluntary Service fellow. I live in intentional community with five other fellows, exploring spirituality and social justice. Each of us works full-time at a different non-profit in the city. I am working at L’Arche Portland, a community in which adults with and without intellectual disabilities share life together, celebrating and honoring our unique gifts and challenges. Service is a part of both my work and home life; I invite those with whom I work into a mutual relationship, creating community in which all individuals are respected and have the autonomy and choice to lead a meaningful life. At home, QVS fellows serve each other, supporting and challenging one another to discover our authentic spirituality in the context of community and social justice work.