I am thoroughly surprised by two things after my first few weeks in San Diego, and I couldn’t be happier. Both of my surprises have come from my service placement in the Campus Ministry Office at Saint Augustine High School. The first surprise came from the fact that I am enjoying my time working in a school. After going through college as a secondary education major I finished my rough semester of student teaching thinking about how I never want to have to step foot in a school again. I was very unhappy working in the school and I decided to peruse other options. I chose not to apply for the ACE program at Notre Dame or OperationTeach in Baltimore, as both post-grad service programs focused around teaching, and only applied to the AVs. The people who I knew that had done the program hadn’t worked in schools so I thought that I would be working with a non-profit or a service program or anything…just not a school. Then I was offered the position at a high school, I accepted it knowing that I had studied for four years to work with this age group and that the program was placing me somewhere that I was qualified for. Then I learned that I was going to be working in a Campus Ministry Office. My experience with Campus Ministry has often involved “holier-than-thou” types leading quasi-hippie retreats. I hadn’t gone on a retreat all throughout college and I was a little worried that I would be surrounded by students who would either be hyper-religious or not care at all.
Both of my disappointments, working in a school and working in ministry, have been entirely thwarted. I am happily surprised that I wake up every day happy to be going to the office and I spend my days waiting for the moments that I get to spend time with students, discussing whatever topic is on their minds that day. Sometimes it’s sports or TV or grades or girls, and sometimes it’s the gospel or church history or faith struggles. The students that are the leaders in Campus Ministry are well-rounded athletes, young scholars, and musicians that have learned that letting faith take the center position in their lives does not take away from the other parts of their lives, but rather invigorates them and makes them all the more enjoyable. I have heard students of sixteen years old discussing how they work hard at school to honor the mind that God has given them.
I have been finding so much joy in the time I am spending with students that it is encouraging me to reconsider classroom teaching as a career. I am hoping to get in on the sub-rotation for the history classes in order to better understand if that is truly my calling. I am learning a lot from the young men that I was so reluctant to be placed with.
San Diego, CA 2016-2017