Friday, July 28, 2017

I Chose Service - Maria Cruse, Lutheran Volunteer Corps

After graduating from college, 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: Maria Cruse
Volunteer Program: Lutheran Volunteer Corps
Location: Milwaukee, WI 
Hometown: Edgewood, WA
College: Pacific Lutheran University, 2016, Bachelor of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies with a Music Minor

How did you first learn about post-graduate service? I learned about LVC through my college's community engagement and service center.

What other options were available to you, and why did you decide on your service program? Having an interdisciplinary degree allows me to be fluid with my post-grad options, such as service, a career, or graduate school. I decided to do a year of service because it allowed me to live in intentional community with my housemates, and engage in sustainability and social justice. LVC also gave me the opportunity to explore a career in way that I haven't thought about before.

Share about your service placement and volunteer community experience. My service placement is at a high school for "at risk" youth, where I'm a math teacher. Instead of viewing students as "at risk", I think a more encapsulating description of students that I work with are "at-promise"--the promise to graduate and to have continued success throughout their lives. I am not only a teacher, but program coordinator, cook, facilitator, and mentor. Living in intentional community has taught me to be patient, willing to compromise, and understanding of your own values in comparison to your housemates.

What benefits have you gained from this experience that you might not have received otherwise? Something I've gained from being a part of LVC is learning how to live on my own, in a new city, and graciously having a support system to help me do that. I've also gained a fuller passion for social justice, youth, and education. Finally, doing LVC has challenged me to critically think about my values of spirituality, communication, sustainability, and community and how they relate in comparison to my housemates. 

What advice do you have for someone considering post-graduate service? Live fearlessly, have an open mind, and get involved.
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To learn more about post-grad service opportunities, check out our RESPONSE directory, listing thousands of opportunities across the United States and abroad.