When I was applying to college, I only knew three things: I wanted a school with a good education program, I wanted to stay in Illinois (this will be funny later), and I wanted to be at a school with small class sizes. When I visited Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, I knew it was the right place for me. The fact that it was “A Catholic and Lasallian University” really didn’t matter; in fact, I had no idea what “Lasallian” meant.
As I went through my first two years at Lewis, I was happy. I made friends who I knew would be lifelong. I started education classes my sophomore year, finally studying what I wanted. But it wasn’t until my junior year that I really came to appreciate the fact that I was attending a Catholic and Lasallian university. I was invited to go on a retreat called Koinonia, with the promise of the chance to “discover God, yourself, and others.” I can honestly say that attending this retreat was life-changing. I went on to lead the retreat three times after that, and each time the retreat brought me something different in terms of God, myself, and/or others. In my last semester at Lewis, I student taught. I think I was Lasallian at this point, but I didn’t quite know it yet.
As graduation approached, I thought about applying to be a Lasallian Volunteer. I had heard about the program several times from my friends who were applying, as well as from alums and grad students. I went back and forth, and ultimately decided I still wasn’t ready to leave Illinois.
A few months after graduation, I felt I had made a mistake. I was definitely being called to be a Lasallian Volunteer. As soon as the applications came out for the next service year, I started filling one out. I applied, I interviewed, and I was accepted to the program. They told me they thought I would best fit in a science and math teaching position at an all-boys middle school: The San Miguel School in Providence, RI.
Before I knew it, I was visiting. I immediately knew this was where I was supposed to be. The sense of community and love at The San Miguel School was astounding.
I attended LV orientation and really learned about St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Lasallian mission. When I officially started teaching at San Miguel, that mission was put into action. Here was a school who was giving a quality education to under-served boys. It was exactly what De La Salle imagined and wanted. It wasn’t long into my first year as a volunteer that I knew I would be staying for a second year of service.
As my second year as an LV was coming to an end, I wasn’t ready to leave. I felt that teaching at a San Miguel School was exactly where I was called to be. One day, Brother Lawrence Goyette was passing by, and he mentioned that he was about to go visit Concord, California, where they were getting ready to open a new San Miguel School. Well, I had always wanted to live in California… so I applied, interviewed, and ended up getting a job as a founding teacher at De La Salle Academy. Time to move across the country!
I taught there for four years, and once again, it was a place that De La Salle himself would have been proud of. I grew the most as a Lasallian educator while working there, and teaching those boys filled my heart with such joy.
So, there you have it… I’m Lasallian from coast to coast, as well as in between.