I have a support system behind me when I have questions, need advice, and talk about great things that have happened. I know I want to stay in the education field; I feel it through the mentors I have, the students I love working with, and the community that always fills up my cup. I learned that I can take on anything I choose and that connections I made during this program will remain. I can find God in many different places, people, and things whether I am on a retreat in the mountains, working at a sports game after school, or sitting with my students.
~ Katrina Ludwig
“The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.” This is a quote I often heard on retreats but never really acted out on it. This past year I have truly experienced the fruits of giving my all to a school, to answering the call whenever I could be of help to the community. I’ve grown to be much less self-centered and instead putting the needs of others before myself. In doing so, I have found my actions and everyday life to be much more fulfilling. After a year of service, I can say that teaching is my vocation.
This year has taught me a great deal about the vital importance of being with people. As a first year teacher, basketball coach, pseudo chauffeur, and many other roles that came about over the course of my time at Arrupe, I was frequently reminded of just how much I have yet to learn. What I realized though is that in spite of these areas of growth that I am working towards, I was able to simply walk with students and give some gifts of mine that can often be overlooked in the grand scheme of our busy day-to-day lives: my time, my energy, and overall my presence. Being an ASC precisely means that I wasn’t going to have all the answers, and that from that I could “make up” for what I thought I lacked with just showing up everyday for my students in whatever way they may need on a given day. The simplicity of this lesson I’ve learned has brought me an amazing deal of joy as I’ve journeyed through this year with the Alum Service Corps.
In this year of service I have come to learn the value of who you have around you. No matter how much you believe you can take on the world, or any minor task at that, everything becomes easier with good people around you. From students and faculty to my fellow volunteers, I have truly come to understand how important it is to surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Moreover, I have come to learn that these people are strategically placed in our lives by God. The time a person is in our lives may vary, but allowing them the chance to be a part of our journey, allowing them to be what God intended for us, will forever change our lives. Continuing to answer the call to service is not easy, but allows for God to easily, and continually, put new and interesting people in our lives. My faith in God has been renewed as, over this year, I have continually seen and felt the Holy Spirit moving. It is my hope that in continuing to serve as a teacher, I am able to grow closer to God, myself, and all those around me.
This was a year of experience. Like most other ASC volunteers, I had only ever been a student prior to this year; and so I had never held a true leadership position, a position in which people relied on me every single day to perform. What seems unique about teaching is that not only must I perform a task each day, I must also be loving, patient, and kind.
To that point, I can say that I have discovered the difference between the great and the mediocre teachers: The great ones are able to see other individuals as humans — as ends in and of themselves. The mediocre ones fail to do this, and they end up treating students as some sort of work order. I have seen how this pragmatism is a form of dehumanization. To be the great teacher, then, is much like being a great person. It demands that we presuppose charity in other people. It demands that we have faith in them. It demands a belief in a true underlying goodness in this world, that there is something profoundly more important than what is merely pragmatic. Thanks to this ASC year, I see now that that statement is what it means to have faith in God, and my chance at a meaningful life requires it.
As an English teacher I have learned to look for meaning in the minutiae of everyday life. As a moderator and coach I have learned how important it is to lovingly foster passion in young people. As an ASC, through the challenges of first-year teaching, intentional community living, and this explicit call to service, I have become a better, smarter, fuller person—
re-focused on the desire to do good in the world.
This year of service has impacted me beyond what I could’ve imagined. I am so grateful to Regis Jesuit and the Jesuit Province for giving me the opportunity to serve. At RJHS, my students taught me what it means to be a mentor. I’ve also grown tremendously in my faith in this year of giving. My hope is that I can continue to serve the community.