Year of Service: Living Out Our Ignatian Spirituality

Written on 1:37 PM by Xavier Career Development

“Go to college, a university. Get a real job-that’s what they said to me.” That’s what Joel Madden from Good Charlotte sang about our futures back in the year 2003. But this is the year 2014, and not all of us want to follow the routine pattern of jumping straight into a working environment immediately after graduation. Some of us are pursuing graduate school, and others are considering a year of service: being a man or woman for others and giving their time and talent to those truly in need. Xavier graduate Matthew Mellon, class of 2009, describes his life changing experience with post-grad volunteering.

What was your scenario that made you decide upon your year of service?
A year of service was a logical place to start my career after college. I always knew I wanted to work in something related to social justice. At that point in my life, I was also exploring the connection between social justice and faith. So, spending a year with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps fit my priorities quite well, because they were a faith-based program and most of their service placements were explicitly focused on social justice. 

Did you attend the post-grad fair during your time at Xavier?
I did attend! I went my Junior and Senior years.

What is it you did during your year of service?
Immediately after graduation, I went into my year of service with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I was placed at DC Employment Justice Center, a law center for low-wage workers. I worked on the advocacy team, where I lobbied for workplace protections for low wage workers in Washington, DC at the city council. I also did some case work with our clients and helped them navigate legal issues related to their employment (I was supervised by an attorney). I heard about Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) through a friend who had applied a year earlier. I also think I talked to them at Xavier's Post Grad Service Fair, but I can't remember for sure.

 Did this require you to re-locate from your hometown? Did you complete the year of service alone or with others you knew?
Yes, I left my hometown of Cincinnati, and relocated to DC. I didn't know anyone beforehand, but I became good friends with most of the other 21 people in my LVC cohort.

What are you most glad about after having completed your year?
Well, this is a bit difficult to answer. There are many things that I am deeply appreciative of after finishing my year of service (which was four years ago). If I had to pick one, I think it was learning about the policy-making process in DC City Council, and more importantly how important policy advocacy is in social justice work. Advocacy has been my career, in one way or another, since finishing my year of service.

What followed your year of service?
Right afterward, I started a one year leadership development program called Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, which took me to Arizona to work on hunger related issues. After that, I moved back to DC and worked for several years in health policy, then as a researcher at a hospital. Now, I am in graduate school pursuing degrees in public health and public policy.

Although Matthew’s experience was within the United States, there are many international opportunities as well! A year of service could be a great opportunity to explore a career field and gain experience.  To find out, attend the Graduate School and Year-of-Service Fair on October 28!

Click here for more information!

Cheers to the future,
Jenny Mendoza

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