Students from all three of Catholic Community Connection’s partner educational institutions were interviewed about how their faith has grown while attending college. Here is some of the insight they shared:


Vincent Rizzo, Class of 2023
Political Science – Peace, Justice, and Human Rights
John Carroll University

As crazy as it sounds, there was this light bulb moment during the second semester of my freshman year. It was right before COVID hit, and I was working with the Center for Service and Social Action at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Center. I was involved in a project called Power Source where I spent time each Saturday with five different people living in the facility.

My time there sparked my interest in peace, justice, and human rights, and opened my eyes to recognizing individuals as individuals—no matter where they are in their lives or what decisions they’ve made. It was the first time I truly understood how political science and the criminal justice system intersect and why I’m so passionate about this area of study. I find joy in exploring how to mend these things together.

I’ve made exponential leaps and bounds in the growth of my faith walk over the last three years. But it hasn’t been a linear path. There have been many ups and downs, and twists and turns. Issues with school and the pandemic have been thrown at me, and I’m thankful for the people around me who have impacted my way and allowed my faith to continue to grow.

Aleysia Books, Class of 2024
Ursuline College

I have grown in my faith and compassion for others while attending college—academically and personally.

Academically, I got a job at the Cleveland Clinic as a Patient Care Nursing Assistant (PCNA), and I help patients take care of their basic needs while they’re in the hospital. I also attended a retreat in partnership with Notre Dame where I was able to take a break and connect more with God.

Personally, while I have always identified as a Christian, I had been looking for a new church home for some time. I’m happy to have found one during college and look forward to joining the new faith and fellowship group that Ursuline offers.

Finally, I am a student-athlete and it’s somewhat difficult to juggle everything during the week. Now I can go to church services late at night on Sundays. One of the fellowship group advisors is the track and field coach, so as a lacrosse player, I feel an immediate sense of connection with the group.

Jeremiah Denzel David, Class of 2022
Notre Dame College

When I first came to Notre Dame, I had a pretty fixed mindset regarding how things would work and how they were supposed to be. Joining a community with beliefs different from my own helped shape and broaden my understanding of my belief in God and how to view other people’s perspectives.

I got involved with Bible study because of a professor who was part of campus ministry. When I was in her class, she invited me to Mass and other events that I wasn’t that interested in. At first, I simply attended without much reflection. Over time, I started thinking about things that had happened in my life and how they related to my understanding of God.
I eventually began leading the Bible studies and have grown from those experiences. I’ve become more compassionate about helping others after having the chance to serve at Notre Dame. Now I’m a mentor in a program called Kids Club at a local church. I help students with their homework, play basketball with them, and go with them to church to help them learn about God, too.