Alumni

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Thinking back on my senior year at Notre Dame when I was discerning postgrad service and mission work, there were so many questions with which I struggled. Among them, I remember feeling uncertain as to whether it was even permissible to ask questions like "What can this service program offer me," since I was supposed to be the one serving, not the other way around.

While it is possible to ask this in a purely selfish way, there is also an altruistic way of pursuing the question. Especially for those of us desiring to lead intentional Christian lives of service beyond these programs, it’s natural and good for us to want to receive things from our experience as long as they are oriented toward the other, and ultimately, toward God. In other words, being self-aware of both the virtues we have, and those in which we would like to grow, is not a bad thing. And so another way of phrasing the question above may be: “What virtues could this program work to cultivate in me?”

Although God works in our particularity, and my experience does not speak to everyone’s, I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts on how I have grown, now 18 months into this journey at the Finca del Niño:

    1) Patience—For one, the Honduran pace of life is slower, more relaxed, and less driven by achievement or efficiency. Additionally, despite much hard work, kids’ trauma-based behavior doesn’t necessarily change overnight; nor do my own sins and weaknesses. I’m learning to live into the Jesuit idea of “trusting in the slow work of God.” Or as Fr. Greg Boyle writes, “My God is a God who waits. Who am I not to?”

    2) Freedom—A bit ironically, I experience such freedom as a result of my time at the Finca. Ironically, because many personal freedoms that I have in the US are denied me here: I cannot drive at night; I cannot leave the grounds by myself or without permission; my diet is determined by what’s available to the Finca that week. And yet the simplicity of life here offers a much deeper freedom to choose the good. I’m no longer so attached to certain foods, conveniences, or bodily comforts, even when visiting the States. I’m no longer so affected by society’s ideas of what is right and proper for me. Reiterating a continued, whispered “yes” to God through my life’s actions frees me to say a confident “no” to those things of this world I know will not fulfill me.

    3) Perspective—The majority of the Honduran population lives not knowing what tomorrow brings. Although we have more stability than our neighbors in many ways, for better or for worse, quite a few aspects of our lives here at the Finca follow that line of unpredictability. Life lived like this has made me truly gain perspective on what is important. I feel infinitely more in touch with how much of the world lives. Consequently, returning to the States for vacation is shocking and overwhelming because I experience abruptly a whole different set of worries and priorities, but I’m grateful for this nuanced understanding.

    4) Prayer—Before coming to the Finca, I considered myself a woman of prayer, but truthfully, I only really prayed when it was convenient for me. Our community-wide prayer routine, the unwavering faith of the Honduran people, my own smallness before the challenges faced here—all these things act as impetus for truly integrating prayer into my daily life and breath. I’m now really not quite sure how I ever got through my days without it before.

    5) Confidence, courage, and conviction—Before the Finca, I was proud to be Catholic, and actively wrestled to understand and reconcile my faith with the world around me. When I was home on vacation, I saw one of my best friends for the first time in over a year. Unprompted, she told me that I hadn’t changed—that I was still the same—but it seemed that my center, my whole reason for being and doing had shifted. Although it sounds dramatic, upon reflection I realized that my friend had spoken the truth—that my first year at the Finca had sowed in me the confidence, courage, and conviction to live a deeply intentional, committed Christian life—and to encourage others to do the same.

And so there is good that can come from asking a question that is initially perceived as self-centered. But there is also great and merited worth in asking what it is that I can offer to this population, the individuals served in any given program.

With respect to the Finca, it takes a village to raise a child, and here we’re attempting to raise many. Amid the Honduran house parents and professionals, and the religious Franciscan sisters, we missionaries are blessed to play a pivotal role in the development and formation of these children. We are in need of followers and imitators of Christ, critical thinkers rooted in prayer and unafraid to step into the unknown. We need individuals who are resilient, flexible, compassionate, and open—open to embracing equal parts joy and hardship—and ultimately open to the graces that God wants to bestow upon them through the Honduran children we have the honor in accompanying.

Laura Camarata graduated from Notre Dame in 2016 with a BA in Psychology, a supplementary major in Latino Studies, and a minor in Education, Schooling & Society. She is currently a missionary at the Finca del Niño, a Catholic children’s home found on the northern beaches of Trujillo, Honduras.

 

Originally published in The Observer on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

For anyone interested in pursuing postgraduate service, contact Michael Hebbeler, Discernment and Advocacy Director at the Center for Social Concerns.

Alumni describe involvement with service group

By: Natalie Weber

Attending an information session can change a life.

Entering her senior year at Notre Dame, Victoria Ryan (‘15) knew she wanted to participate in a year of post-graduate service, but was unsure of her long-term plans. She attended the career fair and the service fair, but it was not until she chanced upon an information session about the Passionist Volunteers International (PVI) that she decided what to do immediately following graduation.

“I just so happened to hear about an information session for a program that was year-long, living in community in Jamaica, and I only even went to the information session because it was at the perfect time in my schedule — it was right when I knew I’d be leaving dinner and I’d be leaving for the library,” she said.

At the information session, she met Fr. Lucian Clark, the director of PVI.

“I really loved talking to him and hearing everything he had to say about Jamaica and his passion for the program and the work that they were doing in Jamaica,” Ryan said. “I didn’t really stop thinking about it.”

A month later, she learned she had been accepted into the program. While in Jamaica, Ryan worked at various sites, including a health clinic, a preschool and a home for orphaned boys.

For Ryan, serving as a nurse’s aide at the health clinic helped her discern her career path.

“Career-wise, the clinic was phenomenal,” she said. “I’m planning on attending an accelerated bachelor’s of nursing program, starting in May, so that really helped me decide what I wanted to do and really sparked my interest in global health, which I think is what I want to do long term.”

According to Passionist Volunteer International’s website, the program was founded in 2003 and is currently based in Mandeville, Jamaica. Ross Boyle, assistant vocations director at PVI, visited campus Monday and Tuesday to discuss the program with Notre Dame students. Boyle said the program usually consists of a group of six to eight volunteers each year.

Boyle explained PVI is run by the Passionists, a Catholic religious order with a special focus on serving the marginalized, whom they term “the crucified of today.”

“Every year, we send a group of volunteers to go work for just a few weeks over 12 months,” he said. “The whole goal of the program is we work with the crucified of today. … Truthfully, the crucified of today can really be anyone. The idea of the cross, Christ crucified, is one that can kind of be anyone who bears a cross.”

Before arriving in Jamaica, volunteers do not know which mission sites they will serve. However, Boyle said, this practice allows PVI to match individual volunteers with the tasks best suited to their interests and skills.

“Our program really gets to know who you are and we spend three weeks with you in the country to figure out what your strengths are, to figure out what you like doing, what you hate doing [and] what areas of your life you want to grow in,” he said.

Katherine Merritt (‘14), [in photo] who studied science business at Notre Dame, was assigned to work in a health clinic and teach classes at an elementary school. In particular, she said she enjoyed getting to know the Jamaican people at each of her sites.

“I worked in a small community clinic, so eventually we kind of started to get to know everyone,” she said. “The nurses I worked with started to become really good friends with all the patients that we were with as well. It’s just kind of different in that it’s a lot more relational and everyone is very community-based.”

Ross McCauley (‘13) began support groups for HIV/AIDS patients and mothers of children with disabilities while serving with PVI. Now in medical school, McCauley said his experiences with the organization have helped him to better empathize with patients and led him to contemplate how to best serve the poor.

“I think coming from a point of privilege in life, it’s hard to know how to approach some of the problems I saw, just in terms of abject poverty and things like starvation and lack of basic needs — how to approach that with sensitivity and the right motives,” he said. “It is very difficult and it is something I struggle with, even in the South Bend community I now work in.

“It’s something I think we should all be aware of and think about, especially as people lucky enough to attend Notre Dame — how best to kind of inject our skills and interests in this world without being offensive or making the problems worse.”

While a pre-med student at Notre Dame, Yuko Gruber ('14) participated twice in the Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP). Her first SSLP experience was at L'Arche Washington, D.C.,  living in community and working as a peer to people with disabilities. She spent a second summer at the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker House in South Bend, Indiana, providing hospitality to the homeless community there. The SSLP sponsors students to serve for eight weeks during the summer at nonprofit agencies dedicated to serving people who are marginalized in society.

Gruber acknowledged that she initially applied to the SSLP because she thought “it was a good way to help the most people possible. I thought, that I would encounter medically vulnerable people at L’Arche, which would be a good fit for my summer and could be included on my medical school application.” She soon learned that it was good for her in ways she had not anticipated when applying.

Now a second year med school student in South Carolina, Gruber reflected on her SSLP summer experiences and how they continue to impact her now. “I hope to be a primary care physician, where I anticipate seeing many patients, but where success isn’t quantified just by numbers of patients. I want to learn to walk with patients over time, to honestly listen to their experiences, and to help them to be healthy in ways that are meaningful for them. Med school often teaches about an ideal standard of health, plus all the ways that injury or illness can disrupt that ideal. In contrast, the SSLP taught me about health, wholeness, and being human in ways I could never learn from a textbook.”

What Gruber experienced is what recent Center for Social Concerns research calls a perspective transformation. This research was recently published in an essay called "Perspective Transformation Through College Summer Service Immersion Programs: Is Learning Enhanced by Sustained Engagement?" in the Journal of College and Character. The research showed that programs like the SSLP create “cognitive dissonance while providing critical reflection that provides a path for students to process their experience. A continuous cycle of action and reflection is where learning occurs. Ultimately, students face perspective transformation, or the development of a critical lens through which to see structural issues of social justice.”

Brandon Zabukovic (’97) participated in the SSLP over 20 years ago and said that his service learning experience undeniably led to long term perspective transformation. Zabukovic spent eight weeks living with the Jesuit Brothers of St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky, while also serving at the Audobon Regional Medical Center there. He recalls, “I was fresh out of a bad experience with organic chemistry, and was questioning whether I had what it took to become a doctor.” Zabukovic said the people he encountered during the SSLP confirmed his desire to be a doctor and ultimately shaped the physician he is today. “Living with the Jesuit brothers showed me the importance of slowing down, of listening, of being in the moment instead of worrying about the next busy busy-ness. Being with them taught me that I can’t be a good doctor without having a legitimate interpersonal experience with someone.”  

Zabukovic added that the SSLP continues to shape his view of patients today.“Working at the clinic during the SSLP helped me see the messiness of healthcare, and it taught me to remember how hard it is to be a patient. Ultimately, being a good doctor boils down to remembering the dignity of the human condition,” he explains.

As Medical Director for Beacon Neighborhood Health Centers, Zabukovic practices at both neighborhood clinics and the South Bend Center for the Homeless. He has a special interest in children and adults with developmental disabilities and HIV medicine. Zabukovic says that the notion of human dignity is central to the mission at his practice. “The doctors I work with and hire have to choose to believe in this stuff. You have to pay attention to all the little things in order for things to go well and also take the time to be with them. Sometimes it isn’t until conversation number three that people give you the information you need as a doctor. You have to allow for that time and accompany them.”

Zabukovic acknowledges that the SSLP is a significant commitment, both emotionally and physically. But he views the experience as something he wouldn’t have missed. “Yes, it’s eight really full weeks,” he explains. “But it’s eight weeks that will matter for the rest of your life. Given everything the SSLP offers, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t apply.”

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Carving out time to be alone with God in silence is easier this year than in the past. Nevertheless, I’ve always treasured my alone time as a backdrop for fresh soul discovery and rejuvenation. Having a space that invites me into prayerful solitude is important to me. I seize the opportunity when it arises.

About a month after we all moved into the Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry house in Baltimore, I decided to give our meditation room a benevolent face-lift. I cozied up the room with soft blankets and pillows. I swapped the fluorescent overhead light bulbs for warm twinkling Christmas lights. I also recruited the energetic Elizabeth Modde [fellow BSVM volunteer and housemate] to drag the plush green chair upstairs with me and plop it down beside the window. I was ready to tackle a year of spiritual growth.

Every morning, clad in my cherry covered flannel pajamas and sporting my delightfully reliable bedhead I shuffle down the hall to our little slice of meditative heaven to have a chat with God. That half hour really is a ‘Mackenzie Oasis.’ Armed with my moleskin, 0.38mm muji pen, Bible, and blue mug of coffee, I am in my introverted element and ready to ponder whatever nugget of wisdom pops out of God’s word that day. I’m a contemplative at heart, so I always have a hodgepodge of philosophical musings sloshing around in my brain. I’m much more comfortable solitarily journaling and reading than I am socializing or sharing, but I knew this year of living and serving in West Baltimore would push me outside my introspective comfort zone and into a vast, relatively unfamiliar realm of new people, places, and conversations. I thought my spiritual growth this year would come from pure, solitary Mackenzie prayer time, but God surprised me (as He always does!) with something entirely different: I learned to experience God in daily moments of relationship.

Of course, many of our lives are quite obviously full of important relationships—this is nothing revolutionary. This year, however, with the distractions, and accessories, and luxuries of my life stripped away, I have come to understand the meaning and value of relationships on a much deeper, more spiritual level. Two authors, Brother Lawrence and Thomas Merton, taught me how to take my contemplative spiritual life, all curled up in the meditation room, and build onto it a life of spiritual action through noticing love and relationships.

My first true encounter with the idea of noticing love came from a book by a 17th century monk named Brother Lawrence. It’s titled Practicing the Presence of God, and I happened to read it right before I came to Baltimore.  Brother Lawrence was a French Carmelite with a knack for oozing contagious inner-peace and for noticing the holiness in everyday things. It could not have been a more well-timed reading accident, because what Brother Lawrence taught me was this: “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” Those words were exactly what I needed to arm myself with coming into a year that was about practicing being present with patients, not the most grandiose or glamorous job-description. And yet, when I spend my few quiet moments alone each morning, it focuses my soul and helps me move through my day noticing the love around me and savoring it.

In this sense, Brother Lawrence has taught me to be aware of God’s inescapable love and to be thankful for the gift of relationship it presents. If I truly believe that God is always near me and around me, both “in my business and my diversions,” as Brother Lawrence says, then every moment of my life is an opportunity to be in relationship with God and creation. Every experience is a spiritual and relational experience if I open myself up to it. God’s love is inherently relational and is shining through each crevice of life.

This year I discovered that what makes any moment spiritual is not the mention of Jesus, a prayer said, or a scripture quoted. All that is needed is my own spirit’s awareness that God’s love is available all the time. The more I notice that miracle of profound, discoverable love, the more spiritually connected I feel to creation and the better I am able to live and serve humbly within it. On my most centered days, I feel close to God even in the quiet, mundane, or sad scenarios. I find God when I am drinking in the sound of rain on my window, when I’m scrubbing the scrambled egg frying pan before work, and when I am holding a patient’s shivering hands during her dialysis. My mornings ensconced in the meditation room are not my only point of contact with God. Rather, those moments in solitude are what reorient my wandering spirit toward relational love and send me off on a daily mission to notice it in every corner of creation.

Of course, some days my morning time doesn’t feel reorienting. Sometimes, I don’t feel close to God because fears, insecurities, and selfishness cloud my heart. Sometimes I stew in my own feelings of discouragement and worthlessness when things don’t go how I plan, or when I fail to ‘succeed.’ But in those moments, the wisdom of Thomas Merton reorients me, “Do not depend on the hope of results. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

Before this year of learning through service, I depended on the hope of results. I relied upon academic success and external affirmation for my self-worth. I felt confident when I was achieving and was afraid to fail. I was fully aware of this pathology in myself, but I didn’t know how to escape it.  Then, I came to Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry and it was recommended I read Thomas Merton! Now I have come to actually feel in my heart the ways in which relationships—not good test scores, pretty clothes, or charming personalities—can save. I experienced this reality for myself, which is much more than understanding it theologically. 

On my worst days, when I don’t get the results I want from a project at work, a graduate school application, or even from my morning prayer time, it’s the little moments of relationship that save me.  It’s when I see one of our renal patients slowly and steadily pushing another patient in their wheel chair from the lobby up to the second floor clinic. It’s when Alex notices I have the hiccups and quietly gets me a glass of water from the kitchen. It’s when my community is all snuggled up on the couch writing letters to our loved ones. It’s when one renal patient helps me memorize his favorite Shakespeare line, when another says she and I are in the cozy sweater club, and when a third, with a wise yet mischievous twinkle in his eye, shares with me his two secrets to happiness: humility and pancakes.

I am so thankful for that meditation room, pumpkin-colored walls and all. Over this year, that space has seen me giggly and weepy, curious and indifferent, connected and distant. I have learned from both the ups and downs that my workplace, my community, and my home are absolutely brimming with love. Certainly there is injustice, fear, anger, and heart-brokenness too. But in the midst of the hurt, there is so much potential for love and relationship. When I take the time to let God open my spirit each morning, I notice His love during my day so much more. Even on the darker days, when I don’t feel God close to me, I can still find hope in relationships. After all, love cannot exist without relationship. Each day living and serving in community proves to me that where love is, God is also there.

Mackenzie Buss did an Summer Service Learning Program at The Upper Room in Kansas City, Missouri in 2013 and worked at the Center for Social Concerns for three years. Following graduation she worked at Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry for a year as a Renal Department Volunteer, Bon Secours Baltimore Hospital.

To learn more about Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry, visit BonSecoursVolunteerMinistry.org or email volunteer@bshsi.org.

Spanish major uses Fulbright grant to develop youth program for at-risk teens in Chile Spanish major uses Fulbright grant to dev

Monday, October 3, 2016

After spending part of an undergraduate study abroad trip working with struggling teen mothers in Chile, Lauren Antosz ’16 left with the nagging feeling there was more she could do.

She’ll get the chance with a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, helping to develop a program that supports at-risk youth achieve higher outcomes.

Antosz, who majored in Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, is one of a record 29 Notre Dame Fulbright Scholars for the 2016-17 year. Fulbright is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering students grants to conduct research, study, and teach in the country of their choice.

Antosz’s Fulbright proposal was inspired by her experience as a study abroad student volunteering at Fundación Cerro Navia Joven, an organization that addresses the needs of children and families in Cerro Navia, Santiago. She spent time there helping young mothers connect with education and resources, but felt that a youth program to assist them set and attain new goals or gain new skills would be much more effective.

“All we could really offer was our talents and time. Once we left the community and went back to South Bend, the work we did in Chile didn’t really continue to affect these women,” Antosz said. “For a while, they had someone to accompany them and listen to them, but it didn’t affect the number of teen moms.”

During her Fulbright year, Antosz will return to Fundación Cerro Navia Joven to conduct in-depth interviews with at-risk teens, young mothers, and their families to determine how to develop better programs to address common negative outcomes such as teen pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse.

“Their youth programs really need to be community-based and geared toward what will work best for families so that those families will feel comfortable using them,” Antosz said. “I want to give them the resources to help them with the things they want to do with their lives, to show them ways to prevent teen pregnancy. Being a parent is great, but if you can wait five or six years, the outcomes for you and your children will be much better.”

Antosz decided to major in Spanish after a volunteer trip to Nicaragua, where she fell in love with Latin culture and language. Adding minors in international development studies through the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and poverty studies through the Center for Social Concerns helped her connect her interests in Spanish language and helping the less fortunate.

“Notre Dame really focuses on Catholic social teachings and incorporates what it means to be a moral person,” Antosz said. “It doesn't matter what you're studying, the Notre Dame mission is to instill these values in its students so that, when they leave, they’re prepared and know how to tackle issues with a perspective that focuses on social justice.”

In addition to her research, Antosz will work with faculty mentors at Universidad Alberto Hurtado and be a teaching assistant for a class on poverty and development—the same class she took as an undergraduate study abroad student.

After her Fulbright year, Antosz plans to seek a graduate program in global affairs or human development.

“This project could be a great first step and experience,” she said.

My most worthwhile educational investment

Monday, September 26, 2016

Letter to the Editor (The Observer) | Monday, September 26, 2016

 

Juniors, seniors, anyone thinking about the future: I’m not writing to convince you to spend time doing service. I am, though, hoping to share some thoughts that could help nudge you out of your own way if you’re hesitating to give some time to service when your Notre Dame graduation rolls around oh-so-soon.

In all the years and conversations leading up to my last year at Notre Dame, I had always presumed my next step to be law school. And until spring break of senior year, I was still barreling blindly down that path. Thankfully, the week-long CSC trip to a L’Arche home in DC gave me a glimpse into a different and lovely life, and thankfully, threw a glitch into my plan.

Around the world and in various cities in the U.S., L’Arche communities are built of homes where adults with and without intellectual disabilities live together to support each other in daily life. I was incredibly drawn to the joy and welcome and love in the homes I visited, accepted L’Arche’s open arms to me, and jumped headfirst into the journey one week after graduating. While I was taking a big step into the unknown, doing so may singularly be one of the best decisions I’ve made to date. I unwittingly gave myself the gifts of time and space to learn and think and care in ways I had not allowed while caught up in the school grind.

Today, my days look very different than my days at L’Arche and just about the only similarity is that I’m still in DC. Two years with L’Arche, two years of grad school, and a year of work later, I am on the legislative team of a U.S. Senator. Bit of a change, right? It sure is. But my growth at L’Arche is uniquely foundational to my current career success. L’Arche allowed me to discover new passions, but more importantly, helped me develop the skills that are making me more successful in pursuing these passions.

Hopefully this doesn’t surprise you, but people want to work with good people. Notice, I didn’t say “smart” people; I expect you’re all smart people, and frankly, there are lots of those in this world, disproportionately so in the industries and career paths Notre Dame students will choose. Being smart and having that strong education will open doors for you, but your humanity is what will get you invited through those doors. It remains eye-opening to find the “break” I was taking equipped me with far more desirable qualities than my many years of top-notch education, and I still find daily that my most used and most useful skills did not come from my 20 years in the classroom, but in fact from my two years giving time and self to community.

In these two years, I learned about grace. I learned about love. I learned about patience. I learned about people and how to care for one another’s humanness. I learned about priorities and what really, deeply matters to me and to others. I gained some chill, I gained some perspective on life, and I gained a group of strong and tender people with whom I still share regular dinners and celebrations and life. Without my L’Arche experience, I would be a different person. And would I want to work with that other version of me? No, not really.

I could continue on to share the ways in which employers have invited me through doors based on my service experience and how they identify that it has formed me. However, I hope you don’t choose service because it will get you ahead; I hope you are called to service from your heart. How a person chooses to invest their time reflects to the world, and the genuine desire for service shines a commitment to self and others that cannot easily be imitated. And the right people will identify this in you and seek you out for it, I promise.

In any and all of the wonderful, beautiful, life-giving service options from which you can choose, you have a world to gain in ways that classes and internships just won’t compare. Give yourself the gift of the time and the space to grow into a better version of yourself—you will be so much more prepared for the world and much more capable of navigating it gracefully. Could a year or two of service change you, maybe even change your plans? Yes, definitely—it likely will. And I challenge you to see that as a good thing. Really, see it as a great thing. Embrace and jump in!

If you are looking for a service opportunity to jump into, stop by the Postgraduate Service Fair to explore options with the 60 organizations that will be on campus to meet students like you. The Fair is Wednesday from 5 – 8 p.m., in the Joyce Center’s Heritage Hall (2nd floor concourse).

 

Megan Hrdlicka

class of 2011

Sept. 25

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Loyola University of Chicago

Mary Meg McCarthy is a nationally respected advocate for immigrants and people who are underrepresented. As the executive director of Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), one of the nation’s leading immigrant and human rights advocacy organizations, McCarthy has grown the staff to 50 and developed an unparalleled network of more than 1,500 pro bono attorneys who provide legal services to 10,000 immigrants annually. With its unique combination of direct service, impact litigation, and advocacy, the NIJC promotes due process protections before the US Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch.

McCarthy has testified before congressional committees on human rights and immigration detention reform. A sought-after speaker at national and international conferences, McCarthy is quoted regularly in leading news outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and MSNBC. She is a commissioner for the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration and a member of the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights Steering Committee.

McCarthy has met with members of the Mexican Congress, academics, and civil society to address migration issues facing Mexico and Central America. She has toured detention centers throughout the US and gathered evidence of chilling civil rights abuses that permeate the US government’s immigration detention system.

Prior to joining the NIJC in 1998, McCarthy practiced civil litigation and served as a pro bono attorney for the NIJC’s asylum project. Earlier in her career, she worked in Chile, helping communities safeguard the rights of individuals living under a dictatorship. 

She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Chicago Inn of Court 2015 Don Hubert Public Service Award, Pax Christi 2013 Teacher of Peace Award, the Robert Bellarmine Award for distinguished alumni from Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law, the Federal Bar Association's Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award, and others. McCarthy recently delivered the keynote address at the University of San Diego’s 18th Annual Sister Sally Furay Lecture on the politics of immigration reform and refugee protection.

CSC Alum Receives Loyola University Award

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Maggie Condit​

Loyola University of Chicago

Maggie Condit blends academics and service like few others. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame, a master’s degree in education from Loyola and now, as a law student, is currently ranked 24th in her class. Condit, who taught for four years at a Catholic elementary school before entering law school, serves as one of the student articles editors of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal and also volunteers to help area children and families. 

Here, she talks about her love of Loyola, what service work means to her, and how she’ll miss “studying” at the city’s beaches and downtown parks. 

 

What’s your favorite Loyola memory?

Participating in Associate Dean Michael Kaufman’s annual Kugel Classic Fun Run and Brunch at his home in the suburbs. Enjoying the beautiful fall weather, eating a delicious brunch, and spending time with the Loyola community is hard to beat. This memory is one of many that shows that Loyola is all about community, friendship, and family. 

 

Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.

Judge Mary Anne Mason, a Loyola alum who truly lives out the Jesuit virtues, has been a huge inspiration to me. During my externship with Judge Mason, I learned about her brilliance, dedication, and humility. She feeds the hungry at a homeless shelter on a regular basis and takes time to work with her externs to help improve their writing—all while serving in a powerful position on the Illinois Appellate Court.

 

Tell us about your volunteer/service work and what it means to you.

I had three amazing service experiences during my time at Loyola. I enjoyed volunteering at Equip for Equality because meeting and helping families facing the legal issues we were learning in class made the coursework come alive. Next, advocating for children and families in Loyola’s Child Law Center was so rewarding and exciting. Finally, it was a blessing to pray with and serve with fellow students and attorneys who live out their Catholic faith through their legal professions through the Catholic Lawyers Guild.

 

Any advice you would give students about how to get the most out of their education?

Meet with your professors, ask a lot of questions, and participate in class—even if you are not 100 percent sure of the answer. I always got so much more out of class when I was actively engaged and not distracted by other things. Plus, the professors appreciate and notice students who are motivated and interested. Oh, and definitely study abroad.

 

Any spots on campus or in Chicago that you’ll miss?

I have been lucky to spend two years at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus for my master’s degree in education and three years at the Water Tower Campus for law school—and both are spectacular. I will definitely miss studying in the parks downtown and at the beach up north (although not too much studying went on in such beautiful and fun places).

 

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I hope that in 10 years, and in every year, I am making a difference, big or small, in someone’s life. Additionally, I hope to become an expert in a particular legal field so I can merge my love of teaching with the law by teaching and helping to shape the next generation of lawyers.

 

About the Medallion

Leadership. Scholarship. Service.

Those three words are etched onto the President’s Medallion that Loyola awards annually to its most outstanding students. They are words that neatly summarize all that the University represents. And they also sum up the 2015–16 President’s Medallion recipients—students who excel not only in the classroom, but also in the world, and are dedicated to helping those around them.

“Each of the recipients was recommended for this award by their academic dean because they exemplify a wonderful combination of achievement in scholarship, leadership, and service,” said Jane Neufeld, vice president of Student Development, at the annual President’s Ball on November 6.

“In addition, they are seen as persons of integrity, good reputation, and manifest leadership in serving others,” Neufeld said. “In short, they are students for which Loyola and its founders can take great pride.”