Creighton Brings Alumna Home to the D.R.

Creighton Brings Alumna Home to the D.R.

By Cindy Murphy McMahon, BA’74

From the Dominican Republic to Creighton University and back, alumna Margarita Dubocq, BSBA’04, MS’08, is living what she feels is an ideal life.

Dubocq is completing her fifth year as the academic director for Creighton’s Encuentro Dominicano program, a semester-long service-learning undergraduate program that largely takes place in the Dominican Republic.

The fact that Dubocq lives and works just miles from where she grew up, after spending a dozen years living in the United States, is more than good luck.

“My life has come full circle,” Dubocq says on a recent visit to Creighton’s main campus. “I’m so grateful. Creighton transformed my life, and I’m very fortunate now to be able to replicate that experience for other students.”

Dubocq was a Creighton freshman in 2000, the recipient of a full tuition scholarship the University had established in 1999 with her school in Santiago and still offers today.

As a child, she was not aware of Creighton, but she did attend Mass at the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) center outside of Santiago, which is where Creighton’s programs in the D.R. are based and where she works today.

“We just called the people at the center ‘the Americans at the ILAC,’” she laughs.

While she was attending Creighton for her undergraduate degree, Dubocq volunteered the first summer as an ayudante, or assistant, with the summer ILAC program for health professions students and health care professionals.

“It was an awakening to my own country,” she says. “I realized my experience of my country was not the majority experience, as a member of the upper-middle class. Working in the rural clinic, I started having the same questions many of our students have, such as, ‘Why the differences in how people live?’”

She stayed in close contact with Creighton’s ILAC office during her undergraduate years, helping in any way she could, including speaking at retreats about the cultural differences the students would experience in the D.R. After she graduated with her degree in business administration in 2004, she attained a summer job working with high school groups participating in ILAC and later became a coordinator of one of the teams.

She eventually was hired as a full-time ILAC coordinator, a position she held for the next four years.

During that time, ILAC’s outreach expanded to include a water quality program with two local high schools and the law school.

Dubocq also earned her master’s degree in counseling education, with a concentration in college student affairs.

She eventually left Creighton to serve as the assistant director for poverty concerns and faith connections at Loyola Maryland, concentrating on hunger, homelessness, service and spirituality programs. But she knew she always hoped to return.

Then, after four years, just as her work visa was ending, the previous academic director for Creighton’s Encuentro program left, she applied and was hired. “It felt like a ‘God-incidence.’ I had been one of the student members of the restructuring of the Encuentro program, and now I would be working with it.”

As the academic director, she wears multiple hats. She is an instructor for several classes, including one on Dominican history. She accompanies students on immersion trips into the campos, or rural communities, where they stay with local families, and on academic trips to various locations in the D.R., including a trip to the border with Haiti to learn about the two countries’ relations.

Dubocq is in a good position to see the changes that have taken place in Creighton’s Dominican programs, which have been experienced by some 4,300 Creighton students over the years.

“More programs have been added, and I have seen a greater commitment to enhancing the work of the ILAC Center and the quality of life of the people whom they serve,” she says.

And she is excited for the future, looking for Creighton to continue to support local growth and empowerment.

“A lot of the passions I developed as a student, regarding learning about our privilege and how to cope with and react to that privilege, I now get to do for others. And to be able to do it while also serving my own country is really a privilege in itself.”