May graduates making an impact through volunteer service
Creighton is one of the top four producers of volunteers for post-graduation service work with two Jesuit Volunteer organizations: Jesuit Volunteer Corps and JVC Northwest.
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps places young leaders in full-time roles of service within marginalized communities across five countries. Similarly, JVC Northwest offers volunteer opportunities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Four Class of 2023 graduates are serving in placements across the country through the JVC: Erin Hebert, BSChm’23 (Chicago), Obinna Okoye, BA’23 (Baltimore), Kate Tietjen, BSBA’23 (New Orleans) (pictured above), and Jordanne Orlowski, BS’23, in the JVC Northwest.
Tietjen is a program assistant at Café Reconcile, a nonprofit daytime restaurant serving Southern staples cooked by at-risk youth receiving job training.
“I believe working with diverse populations, living in community with others, and navigating new cities and cultures is critical for those who want to make an impact in the world,” she says. Tietjen found the inspiration to join the JVC after participating in Schlegel Center service and justice trips and hearing stories from former Jesuit volunteers.
Okoye shares that feeling. “It would seem hard to start off in a new place without the communities I was a part of in the past, but to be honest I was really happy that only a few came along in this next chapter. It gave me the push to immerse myself in this new community and role,” says Okoye, a service and ministry coordinator at Cristo Rey High School in Baltimore with JVC. “I learned that I want to see students succeed.”
In the past five years, 14 Creighton graduates have engaged in life-changing volunteer service through JVC domestic and international communities, according to a self-reported first destination survey from Creighton’s John P. Fahey Career Center.
“Our students are primed to continue deepening their lived commitment to the four pillars of JVC — spirituality, simple living, community and justice — because these have been cornerstones of their Creighton experience,” says Cynthia Schmersal, EdD, vice president of Mission and Ministry.
Other members of the Class of 2023 also are spending a year after college in service and religious programs.
Jackson Fox, BS’23, Grace Cote, BA’23, Anna Cloonan, BA’23, and Seth Miller, BA’23, are faith and service volunteers with the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) in the Dominican Republic.
Before his senior year, Fox took part in the ILAC Summer Health Program. As an ayudante in a medical clinic in the Candillar campo, about an hour east of the Haitian border, Fox worked “as a medical, dental and pharmacy assistant and translator.” In a way, it mirrored his life as a busy Creighton student, but Fox says, “volunteering in the DR was one of the most impactful experiences of college.”
In Denver, Elizabeth Wunn, BS’23, is a Colorado Vincentian Volunteer, a program rooted in the Vincentian Catholic identity and committed to social justice and companionship with people who are marginalized. Wunn works at the SAME (So All May Eat) Café, a nonprofit promoting accessible food through the participation model: Guests donate time, money or produce in exchange for a healthy, locally sourced meal.
“I wanted to take a meaningful gap year before medical school,” Wunn says, “so I could grow as a person and learn how I can incorporate this passion for serving others and working for justice into my everyday life and future career.”