Why I Chose to Volunteer After Graduation

The time before graduation is a time of feeling everything from complete despair to absolute bliss. Nothing beats the feeling of landing your dream job after four years of strenuous work. But sometimes, that job is not as traditional as your classmates.

For me, I have friends doing everything from graduate school in California to working as a Special Education teacher in Montgomery County. Everyone’s path has led them to a new and exciting place filled with amazing opportunities and hopefully a sense of financial stability.

Now when it was my turn to figure out the next step of my life, I found myself at a loss. I hated the idea of going back to school and no jobs made excited about opportunities for the future. So where does one go from there? Do I just accept that I’ll live in my parent’s house with a cat for the rest of my life?

No, because first I hate cats, and secondly I realized there’s another option!

I have always had a passion and desire to serve, everything in my life had to have some sort of service component because nothing made me happier. So when I started to consider what I was going to do after graduation and calm large amount of panic that had since ensued, I started to research volunteer organizations.

I had heard of people joining the Peace Corps and Ameri-Corps, or being missionaries but none of these offered exactly what I wanted. Soon enough I remembered an organization that had always been in the back of my mind, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

It’s a nationwide and international program that joins service and spirituality to allow their volunteers to grow in their dedication to their faith, to social justice, to living simply and of course community.

Sounds like a sweet deal right?

Well add in living with multiple strangers in a new city and living on a stipend, this becomes a bit more daunting. But for a person like me who is already passionate about service, who wanted a drastic change in their life, and who desperately wanted to do something meaningful, I fell in love.

Another great thing about this process is that I had an amazing friend going through it with me. Lina Guerrero and I went through the application and placement process together and we are both so happy.  

“I chose to apply for JVC because not only did I want to walk with people on the margins, I also wanted to have the on-the-ground experience learning what people are going through in this country. This kind of experiential learning about people’s lives and justice is what I would like to dedicate my career to, which is why I chose it before going to graduate school and over a paying job.” Guerrero said.

Now JVC and becoming JV’s is what we wanted and what we fell in love with. I will start my year in August and will be moving to Raleigh, NC to work for a wonderful company called The Green Chair Project.

Guerrero will be moving to Kansas City, MO to work with the Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Firm. JVC is not for everyone, but that’s why so many of these types of organizations exist.

The Peace Corps, Ameri-corps, City Year and so many more are amazing options for volunteer opportunities. I hope that those of you who go into an instant panic at the thought of graduation, consider this; this is the only time in your life where this is a possibility. It’s more than a gap year, it’s a chance to change your life for the better.

Are you brave enough to say yes?     

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