We asked Deirdre Long (USF '11), Alpha Sigma Nu member and current Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer in Chicago about her experience with Alpha Sigma Nu and the JVC. Read her story here -- she even ends up living with fellow ASN member Patrick Curran (Georgetown '12), a volunteer with Catholic Charities helping refugees in Chicago.
I was first inspired to do JVC my sophomore year after meeting a former Jesuit Volunteer from the international program. She was a great mentor while I worked with Campus Ministry. Additionally, a former JV spoke to a group of students who are members of the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco my following year. The gentleman also works with DeMarillac Academy in San Francisco. His talk motivated me to do more than just tutor at DeMarillac Academy. It was this experience that really solidified my decision to apply to JVC. Doing service has always been an interest of mine, but also incorporating my spirituality, love of community (I lived in on-campus housing for 3 years and shared a room in my apartment the final year), and the values of social justice that USF instilled in me seemed like a no-brainer decision.
I'm still unsure about what it is I want to do after JVC. I have thought about applying for a second year. I am also quickly falling in love with Chicago - so the option of finding a job and staying here is so appealing. Finally, after studying abroad in Ireland, I have considered applying to a Masters program at University College Dublin to receive an MA in History with a focus in International Relations. USF, ASN, and JVC have opened a lot of doors for me - it's a bit overwhelming. However, JVC teachs us about intentionality and living in the moment. So, as of now, that is my focus.
I have been using the Ignatian values throughout college. I was taught that each person has an unrestricted desire to know. To deny scholarship would deny this natural, uncontrolable yearning for knowledge that I have. I also believe that living in society requires a certain level of loyalty - to yourself and others. A personal mantra I have is, "Be your own person." Define your identity and be true to it. Additionally, friends and family have been integral to my success and happiness. If I were not loyal, or I did not feel their loyalty towards me, I do not think my ability to create and maintain positive social relationships would even exist. Finally, service is what drew me to JVC. It is something I have done for a long time. Service is something that allows a certain type of connection to work and action that is often lost in paid positions. It produces a type of organic solidarity between one and their work, others, and society. If I did not maintain these Ignatian values in my life, I do not believe I would be myself anymore. They have become embedded in who I am. To lose them or choose to live without them would be, I feel, a crime against me.
Living with Pat (fellow ASN member) is a constant intellectual experience. He lives the Ignatian values much more naturally than I do. The intrinsic pull he has towards social justice is inspiring. His intelligence and strive to learn more motivates. To live in community with someone that holds the same values as me makes further development of the Ignatian values a challenge for me, but also a place of comfort.
Thank you, Deirdre, for sharing your experiences with ASN and JVC and maybe inspiring in all of us a desire to make service front and center in our lives!