Working 'Toward a Better World'

Working ‘Toward a Better World’

Creighton Graduates Serve with JVC and JVC Northwest

By Maria Fagerland

From working with at-risk youth in Portland, Ore., to fighting for fair housing in New York City, nine Creighton graduates are assisting people on the margins of society across the United States with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and JVC Northwest.

As full-time volunteers, they work for the well-being of all people and commit to upholding human dignity. Living in a faith that does justice, each participant lives and serves within a reflective community alongside other Jesuit Volunteers (JVs).

Maria Watson, BA’16, began her volunteer commitment with JVC Northwest in Portland last August, working with the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC). POIC serves at-risk youth through wraparound services consisting of education, mentoring, family outreach, and employment training and placement.

“I came here ready for my world to be turned upside down. I know that my service and my community will challenge me constantly, but in the end, it will all be positively formative,” Watson says.

During her time at Creighton, Watson says she was encouraged to live out the University’s Jesuit values in an intentional way, in service to marginalized populations.

“Creighton taught me to hold myself to a certain standard of excellence that is beyond the norm,” Watson says. “Being educated in the Jesuit tradition meant that I was constantly reminded that I have a responsibility to use my skills and talents to work toward a better world — not a better house or a better car.”

Like Watson, Katie McClave, BA’16, knew she wanted to be a part of a community after graduation similar to the one she experienced studying cultural anthropology and Spanish at Creighton.

McClave says her Creighton education gave her the tools to analyze global issues and become more knowledgeable on injustices in society. JVC has given her the opportunity to do something about those injustices.

“Creighton instilled in me a love of community, service and social justice, so those were all the things I knew I was searching for in post-grad life,” McClave says.

McClave is currently serving in New York City as a tenant organizer at Tenants & Neighbors.

“We work to preserve affordable housing in New York City, and we do that by helping tenants form tenant associations in their buildings to build their collective power,” McClave says of the nonprofit organization. “For me, every day looks different. I spend about half my time in the office and half my time in the field — attending rallies, distributing flyers and meeting with tenants.”

The current executive director of JVC Northwest, Jeanne Haster, BA’77, is a Creighton alumna and former JV. She says Creighton nourishes students’ desires to volunteer.

“Creighton JVs are passionate about sharing their gifts and skills,” Haster says. “They are dedicated to the people with whom they are in service. They want to make a difference in the world — they want to be part of making the world a better place. There is a special Ignatian spirit that is alive and on fire in the JVs from Creighton.”