Kaleigh Wagner, a sociology major and senior at John Carroll University, is serving at the Village of St. Edwards (VASED) as a Catholic Community Connection 2017 Summer Fellow. Because of her experience at VASED, Kaleigh has decided to continue her education and pursue a master’s of Non-profit Administration. During the program, Kaleigh worked at The Village of St. Edwards senior care facility as a Marketing and Development intern.
She commented: “I have had the pleasure of spending my summer at the Village of St. Edward, a not-for-profit care facility, serving as the marketing and development intern. I have had the opportunity to work on several projects for my two bosses, Annette & Vondea, that have given me experience working in the non-profit administration world. These two amazing women have helped me to determine that a Masters in Non-Profit Administration just may be the path I should take . . .yet, speaking with the residents, I am renewed with joy and gratitude every time a resident shares stories from their beautifully rich life. It is humbling yet so delightful to be reminded that life has just begun- it is hard not to have that take away after interviewing a vivacious woman turning 100 this August!”
Kaleigh, who was raised as a Catholic, has had her faith deepened when introduced to Jesuit teachings and traditions at John Carroll University. As a component of the Summer Fellows program, students are paired with a religious sister companion. Kaleigh was paired with Sr. Karen Somerville, SND. Sr. Karen was the principal of St. Francis School for over twenty years and has recently returned from a trip to Africa.
When asked about her overall experience, she commented: “This program has offered me a summer of discernment while also expanding my network. I was very unsure of my careers direction, whether I would pursue social work or non-profit administration, but my time has shown me that administration, specifically development, is the perfect avenue to utilize both my skills and passion.”
Eric Moorer, recent graduate of Notre Dame College and 2017 CCC Summer Fellow, is working for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP), one of the oldest charitable organizations in the world. He will be paired with Sr. Cheryl Keehner, CSA, as his ministry mentor. At SVDP, Eric works under the supervision of Anelize Nader and John Litten, SVDP Executive Director. When Eric was asked about his responsibilities with SVDP, he commented; “What I do for them ranges from developing and implementing plans for the solicitation of local-area businesses and fundraising efforts, maintaining the social media efforts, and responding to referral requests.
One of Eric’s favorite experiences thus far was meeting and bonding with his sister companion, Sister Cheryl Keehner, CSA. Sister Cheryl has a background in education and she taught at several Catholic schools in the area. She currently serves on the Religious Communities Ad-Hoc Committee of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland and she is on the board of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. Additionally, she serves on the Social Responsibility Investment Committee of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
Eric, having no previous experience with the Catholic Church before coming to Notre Dame College, commented: “my initial perception of a sister would be someone who is very conservative, quiet, and spiritual. Through this program, that’s definitely changed. Learning more about the history of sisters as well, as how they bring about social change, which can require begging in some instances… and even protesting, are things I never thought of sisters doing. That obviously requires being social change agents and having more liberal ideas.”
When asked about how he foresees this experience impacting his professional career, he remarked; “Ultimately, I want to use my experience here to learn how to shape policy to create systemic change concerning poverty.”
Charles Russella, from John Carroll University, works for Catholic Community Connection, and his favorite experience so far is working for a smaller organization that has allowed him to have a bigger role on a team, providing an opportunity for a wide range of responsibilities, spanning from internet marketing to project management. Charles, a senior studying marketing at the Boler School of Business, was paired with Sr. Helen, who holds a PhD in marketing. Charles remarked that “Sr. Helen was very outgoing and made it easy to find common ground. At first, we connected on ideas of marketing, but then the conversation quickly transitioned into educating each other about our unique interests. We talked about Formula One, basketball, and had a deeper discussion about human nature.”
As part of the CCC Summer Fellows program, eight students from John Carroll University, Ursuline College, and Notre Dame College were paired with a Sister companion for the purpose of guiding them in their intellectual, spiritual, and professional growth. During their conversation, Charles discovered “Sr. Helen will be able to contribute to my professional development through her mastery of my field of study: Marketing. Spiritually, she has had many years of experience teaching college students marketing and grappling with the complex moral and ethical issues associated with it.”
Over the course of the summer, students will meet at JCU, UC, and NDC. Students will also be visiting their Sister companion’s ministry site. Charles will be visiting the Hospice of the Western Reserve with Sr. Helen to learn about her specific involvement with that ministry.
Charles commented that “Coming from a non-Catholic background, [he] was not familiar with who women religious are and the many important roles they have played within the communities they serve.” Charles is looking forward to working for CCC and further bonding with Sr. Helen.