By Kalli Seglund ’17
Theresa Beaumier, an alumna of St. Norbert College, shares her experiences at SNC that influenced her decision to pursue post-grad service.
Theresa worked at the Center for Community Service and Learning (now known as the Sturzl Center) as a research fellow, studied abroad in Chile, was a member of the ALIVE team and served through TRIPS (alternative breaks) all while studying Religious Studies at SNC. As a result, she continued serving the common good at the Amate House and Jesuit Volunteer Corps through postgraduate service; and was accepted into the Trinity Fellows Program of Marquette University in Milwaukee.
While studying at SNC for Religious Studies, Theresa applied for TRIPS as a first year student where she served at the Amate House in Chicago as an assistant in a local elementary school. Although it was rewarding to help in the classroom, the members themselves left a greater impact on her.
“I got to find out the projects others were doing and how simply they lived. I was intrigued by their commitment to live on a small budget”.
During her time at the Amate House, Theresa became interested in the jobs of the volunteers she met while serving. She was able to gain a greater understanding of the postgraduate service opportunities she was first exposed to during TRIPS. The conversations Theresa had about the volunteers’ real life experiences gave her the opportunity to learn about positions she one day hoped to be in.
Along with her TRIPS experience, Theresa also worked as a research fellow at the Center for Community Service and Learning (now known as the Sturzl Center). Her supervisor, Daniel Robinson, shared the book The Unheard Voices by Randy Stoecker and Elizabeth Tryon. The text discusses service-learning from the viewpoint of the community partner.
“I learned how difficult it is for college students to really be helpful to community organizations given the limits placed on their availability by academic schedules and other factors.”
After reading the book she recognized the importance of long-term service, and explored devoting time after graduation to post-grad service. She chose to serve through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) for one year after graduating from SNC with her Religious Studies major. Through JVC, she helped at a legal office in Los Angeles, California, that provides free legal assistance in housing and family law to people with low incomes. Theresa lived in Boyle Heights, a Mexican immigrant community, and was part of the Dolores Mission parish community as well.
“I lived in an intentional community of six, went on retreats, including a silent one, and learned a lot about myself, social justice, living with other people and much more.”
After serving with JVC, Theresa chose to serve with the Amate House for one year. Due to the influence of her TRIPS experience, she felt driven to serve there again. She spent her time at a social service center and learned how to give assistance to those in need, especially the majority who spoke a foreign language.
“I helped give those in need directions to the nearest bus station and how to use the system or where local food pantries were and even assisted with their court and doctor appointments.”
JVC and the Amate House gave Theresa two years to focus just on the serving the common good rather than trying to balance academics as well. These experiences led her to apply for the Trinity Fellows Program at Marquette University where she continues her passion of serving others. Currently she is doing research at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation with their community partnerships department. Her responsibility involves researching what issues in Milwaukee require the most attention and allocating funds based on priorities.
“This fellowship gave me the opportunity to do community work while also supporting my academics.”
Theresa’s master’s degree study, Social and Applied Philosophy, involves the chance to solely focus on the history of philosophic thinking. She takes classes in which she can apply philosophic theory to modern politics, economics and other discussions.
“Right now, I’m taking a philosophy seminar on Human Needs and Welfare and next semester I hope to take a Political Philosophy class with a focus on borders and immigration.”
This particular fellowship is unique because Theresa has the chance to work with students focusing on masters degrees from communication to engineering. Therefore, a variety of people are working together for the common good realizing very unique issues based on their area of study. All the fellows are working together for social justice and community development within the Milwaukee area while also studying at Marquette University.
Despite Theresa’s life-changing experiences, she still is not ready to settle down on one specific goal.
“I’m not sure yet. Trinity is providing me with amazing opportunities to meet local professionals and gain insights from other Fellows. My hope is to use the next two years to explore my interests and make connections with others, so as to inform my decisions for the future.”