My Path to the 2017 Leo T. McCarthy Public Service Award

Nichole Vasquez

Nicole Vasquez, Kinesiology ’17

2017 Leo T. McCarthy Public Service Award Winner

The Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good has been a formative part of my college experience here at USF! I am very grateful that I learned of the center my sophomore year of college. Since then, I have had the opportunity to participate in the Privett Global Scholar program, where I traveled to India and worked with an organization which focused on integrating people with disabilities into the school system. I also have served as an Advocate for Community Engagement, where I have been working with the incredible community partner, Family House. In each of these experiences, I have had the chance to be in community with folks from different walks of life. I have also had a chance to think critically about community-engaged work, and see that it often times is not a linear process. Post-graduation, I will be attending Creighton University as part of the Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program. I hope to carry on what I have learned through participation in the McCarthy Center programs in order to be a caring and compassionate occupational therapist. Thank you so much to the McCarthy Center for the wonderful work that you all do each day!

2nd Ave Move 1-26-16

Check out more of Nicole’s posts:

What About An Internship Abroad?

Future Advocate For Community Engagement

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An Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) Graduates

Moore_graduation

Dylan Moore ’16
Advocate for Community Engagement

Over the past year, as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) I’ve worked closely with the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in the Tenderloin neighborhood. As a part of this experience, I worked with a wonderful team of people to plan and implement the Fools annual community celebration, known as Oscard’s Feast. Though it operates as a fundraiser, the primary goal of the event is to come together as Fools and celebrate the community found in the Tenderloin (TL). About a week after the event, I was facilitating a reflection with service-learners from a Communication Studies course as well as with Carmen Barsody, one of the founders of the organization. As we reminisced on the success of the event, Abram Castaneda, one of the service-learners said something that made us all pause, smile and make the classic “mmm” sound that happens when someone in a reflection says something particularly profound. He spoke about the beauty of an event that invites people to “come in your complete imperfections”. If there was ever a summative moment of my experiences as an ACE, that was it. In just one short sentence this service-learner had captured what it means to work as an ACE, with the Leo T. McCarthy Center (LTMC), and with the Faithful Fools.

I began my undergraduate life in service as a Martín-Baró Scholar, working with the Raphael House in the Tenderloin. Through this partnership I served as a homework tutor for young students who were currently or had previously experienced homelessness. I was also fortunate enough to spend a year at the YMCA in Bayview Hunters Point. As a part of my work there I was a classroom assistant, helping students with their algebra homework (although frankly, more often than not, they were the ones teaching me about algebra).

Finally, here I am at the Faithful Fools. voter registrationMy service with the Fools has had me wearing multiple hats. There are times when I’ve helped register voters in the TL and times when my service involves simply being in community. Though my time as an ACE is ending, my journey with the McCarthy Center isn’t over yet. In just one short week I’ll be heading off to Sacramento as a McCarthy Fellow and continuing my journey of exploration.

As graduation grows closer, I’m left thinking about all of the things I have learned as an ACE. While I’m better at writing professional emails and planning reflections, any job of value will help me develop those skills. What makes being an ACE an exceptional and transformative job, is how it has shaped me as an agent of change. Over the past two years I have built incredible relationships, made amazing memories, and learned more about myself and the world than I ever thought I would. As a part of this learning process, I have unpacked and analyzed the structural and systemic issues that affect our community. I have explored my privilege and my marginalization. I have seen the ways nonprofits can fight against marginalization. More than anything though, I’ve learned how to celebrate communities in all of their vulnerabilities and strengths. Being an ACE has taught me that I don’t need to build up walls against my vulnerabilities, I need to bask in them. To share our flaws and imperfections and find common ground within them. Being an ACE has taught me how to grow, celebrate, and heal through vulnerability.

So here I am, in all of my imperfections, ready to take on the world as a McCarthy Fellow in Sacramento and continue celebrating the community that is the McCarthy Center.

(Dylan Moore is the 2016 valedictorian for the School of Arts and Sciences and award winner of the Priscilla A. Scotlan Award and the Leo T. McCarthy Public Service Award)