Brandon, aka Don, is from Joliet, IL. He attended Lewis University for his undergraduate and master’s studies. As an undergrad, he studied Economics and Finance; as a graduate student, he studied secondary education with a concentration in history and social studies. He will be living in Philadelphia, PA and will be serving as an asylee navigator and instructor at HIAS in Pennsylvania. Brandon enjoys meeting new people, studying and researching new subjects, and playing basketball. Fun fact (oh boy): Brandon used to be a Christian rapper in high school.
I, Brandon Ceplecha, commit myself to be an Augustinian Volunteer, to provide dedicated service to my site location that incorporates my moral, ethical, civic, and spiritual beliefs. Moreover, I commit myself toward my community members by being open, receptive, and approachable to their beliefs, concerns, and adulations. Lastly, I commit myself to my steadfast pursuit of truth and self-discovery.
Share one of your favorite quotes.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
How did you develop a passion for service?
I have been involved in a variety of service organizations during the past ten years. This list encompasses the following organizations and opportunities: Best Buddies officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, volunteer youth soccer coach, youth group/retreat leader, Brookfield Zoo docent, and many others. My passion to serve began in high school and had gradually intensified with time. Service demonstrates a near selfless act as it requires the volunteer to dedicate oneself toward the well-being of others. When I serve others, I am enriched with the feeling that I am dedicating my work solely to support my fellow men and women rather than to accruing financial success, material wealth, and societal status. My passion to serve continues to grow as I mature. My earnest desire is to remain dedicated to service in the hopes of creating a more egalitarian global community for ensuing generations.
Name one of your favorite musical artists.
I can only pick one? Hmmm, I would have to say Prince. #PurpleRain
What’s a favorite book of yours or a recent book you’ve read?
“Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela
Share an issue you’re passionate about and explain why.
Prior to being an AV, I was a high school history/government teacher. As you can imagine, I am a total history nerd. Accordingly, I am constantly immersed in historical texts and primary source documents. Some quotes that often resonate with me in our sacred American documents are “to form a more perfect union” and “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I believe in these American ideals and am optimistic that we can progress toward becoming a more perfect union that allows men and women from all cultural, socioeconomic, racial, religious, and personal backgrounds to have an equal opportunity to achieve these ideals. I am passionate about removing societal, social, and economic barriers that prevent and/or hinder individuals from pursuing these American ideals. My study of history challenged me to see how certain groups Americans and from the global community at large have had to fight for their basic human rights. Although we as a nation and as a global community have not established an egalitarian society, I will continue to fight with the marginalized, destitute, and afflicted to ensure we create this reality. Although we differ in terms of race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, we are all intrinsically human.
Best moment as an AV to date?
At the time of my writing this, I have just moved into my apartment and have begun working at my service site. The past few weeks have been wonderful. However, my favorite memory to date has been meeting the AV alums during orientation and then going to Penn’s Landing.
What do you like most about living in your new city so far?
Philadelphia provides another opportunity to live a bustling city (I previously lived in Chicago for a short stint). From a general perspective, I enjoy walking/biking to work and having ample opportunities to have fun in a diverse community. Specifically, I love history! My inner history nerd enjoys being close to Independence Hall and historic neighborhoods. And….oh yeah, I love cheesesteaks.
One word that describes your community-living experience is…