Life’s Calling

Thomas Nolan '13


Three thousand seventy six miles from the University of San Diego, Thomas Nolan ’13 found home. The 27 months he spent with the Peace Corps in Barranquilla, Colombia, is an experience he’ll never forget.

“I forged some great relationships that helped me immensely in my work and in my service,” says Nolan, who was awarded the 2015 Peace Corps’ John F. Kennedy Volunteer Excellence Award, which acknowledges the success of his efforts.

He’s one of many USD students who put a priority on building compassionate community upon embarking on his postgraduate career. In fact, in 2016, USD ranked 14th among medium schools for the Peace Corps’ list of Top Volunteer Producing Colleges and Universities.

For Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations Avi Spiegel, himself a Peace Corps alumnus, this ranking is an indication of USD’s commitment to social justice. “The Peace Corps and USD are a perfect match: both share a real and profound dedication to community service and global awareness,” says Spiegel. “There is simply no better way to learn about the world’s complexity, beauty and diversity. You see the world in a way you might never see again.”

This perspective speaks to students, especially when it comes to seizing the opportunity to live out their faith as global Changemakers.

“Our students are amazing. I wish everyone could see how their tremendous talent is matched by their goodness and generosity,” says Assistant Vice President of University Ministry Michael Lovette-Colyer ‘13 (PhD). “In many different ways, I see our students light up with love and with a burning desire to share that love with others.”

Each year, USD students apply to a variety of service organizations including, on average, seven students who join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). Focused on simplicity and connection, the JVC provides students with the chance to live in “intentional communities” with other volunteers while working to promote social justice. Currently, five USD students and alumni are in the interviewing stages for JVC, while five have already received placement offers from the program.

“The most obvious way students are encouraged to consider their vocation and their calling in life is the presence of many faculty members and administrators who are passionately and joyously living out their own,” says Lovette-Colyer. “The Career Development Center does an excellent job of working with students to help them identify their values, gifts, interests and abilities.”

Partnerships between campus organizations and the center enable students to find their true calling with events like “Careers with Compassion” and “Passion in Profession,” in which students are introduced to ways they can continue to live out their faith. With an emphasis on commitment and embracing other cultures, events like these introduce students to a variety of career paths to choose from.

“Our ultimate goal is to help students find careers that have meaning and impact,” says Robin Darmon, the center’s director. “Thus, ‘faith in action’ is threaded into every counseling session, event or program.” — Allyson Meyer ’16

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