Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Chose Service - Laura Roch, Humility of Mary Volunteer Service

When you are preparing to graduate, you have lots of options. This series highlights people who chose service, and how the volunteer experience has made an impact on their lives.

Name: Laura Roch
Volunteer Program: Humility of Mary Volunteer Service
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio
College: Kent State University, May 2016, Human Development and Family Studies

How did you first learn about post-graduate service? I learned about it after I graduated from Kent, honestly. I had gotten a job as a volleyball coach at my high school, and one of my previous teachers shared the opportunity with me. I went to Ursuline High School, so working with and giving back to the community of Ursuline Sisters seemed very fitting!

What other options were available to you, and why did you decide on Humility of Mary? I was planning to go get my Masters degree right away, but I was hesitant. I really, really wanted to take a year off, but finding a job with my degree, especially knowing I wanted to get my Masters within a year would have been VERY difficult. Stumbling upon AmeriCorps has been such a blessing because it ends just in time for me to work on a Master of Mental Health Counseling starting in Fall 2017!  

Tell us about your service experience. Being placed with the Ursuline Sisters has been a WONDERFUL experience. Not only have I learned a lot about myself through my service experience, but I've also learned more about my hometown than I would have ever known had I not taken advantage of this amazing opportunity. I have a wide array of experiences and work with a variety of different individuals. I get to work with underprivileged youth and help tutor them for their classes. I work with privileged youth who attend Ursuline Preschool. I work with older adults, teaching them about their social media devices (phones, computers, GPS's, etc.). I teach English to mothers who speak Spanish and Arabic as their first languages. Finally, I write letters to incarcerated individuals at Ohio State Penitentiary. The individuals I work with have made such an impact on my life, I can only hope I've helped them as well!

What benefits have you gained from this experience that you might not have received otherwise? I have learned how to better serve individuals of different races, socioeconomic status, and personalities. I've learned how to lesson plan, empower individuals, and run meetings about different topics and projects I'm working on. I have become much more aware of the environment around me, rather than being so naive of things going on in the town where I've spent 23 years. Through my service experience, I've also gotten a lot closer to God. I never really prayed, or felt that I needed to, however, after seeing the issues and things people right down the street from me deal with, I have not been able to turn a blind eye. I know that prayers will be answered and these people will be helped soon! 

What advice do you have for someone considering post-graduate service?  DO IT. Service opens your eyes so much to issues and things going on that you don't really take the time to notice unless you're immersed in your community (or the community in which you choose to serve).  If you can't think of any reason to take advantage of this experience, consider that you'll be getting paid to do what you love...volunteer! Being paid to do service is unheard of, so that makes an experience like this even more enticing!

To learn more about post-grad service opportunities, check out our RESPONSE directory, listing thousands of opportunities across the United States and abroad.