Behind The Numbers: BC’s Tie To The Jesuit Volunteer Corps

Within Boston College’s Post-Graduation Plan Survey for the Class of 2014, in a sample size of 1,821 students, approximately nine out of 10 of the survey respondents indicated that their post-graduation plans involved employment through full-time work, internships, volunteering positions, or fellowships. The top areas of employment by college were marketing for MCAS, finance/banking services for CSOM, healthcare for CSON, and education for LSOE. Of the students volunteering after graduation from BC—3.4 percent of the sample size—with organizations such as the Alliance for Catholic Education, Boston Teacher Residency, Teach for America, Peace Corps, and WorldTeach, close to a third are serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Guided by its core virtues of spirituality, simple living, community, and social justice, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) hopes to engage passionate youth in service within underprivileged communities, in turn fostering the growth of leaders conditioned to adapt through faith in action. There are approximately 25 ministries, or types of work, represented among current JVC placements. Those who apply to be and are accepted as volunteers are placed in over 250 different agencies within 37 U.S. cities and six different countries. Among those partner agencies, 25 percent are affiliated with the Jesuits. Available ministries include opportunities in healthcare services, education, work with the developmentally and physically challenged, housing and social services, and immigration advocacy and refugee services.

The JVC program is distinguished by the breadth of the opportunities offered to its volunteers—this is accomplished by the provision of two subsidiary programs that together represent the entity as a whole. The JVC program considers the completion of volunteer services in a domestic and international capacity. The other subsidiary program, JVC Northwest, is a National Direct AmeriCorps program that allows willing volunteers to serve in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska in remote, rural, and urban settings.

“The mission of JVC is deep-rooted in four core values,” said Kate Daly, the associate director of the Volunteer & Service Learning Center at BC. “Members commit themselves to proactively pursuing a sense of spirituality, a simple lifestyle, social justice, and community.” In this capacity, core to the JVC experience is an open engagement with spirituality and faith. The purpose of the program is to create communities that help volunteers broaden their perspectives and confront challenges.

BC ranks within the top two universities in domestic JVC placement and within the top three universities in JVC Northwest placement alongside College of the Holy Cross and the University of Notre Dame. The JVC program this year hosted 15 BC graduates volunteering in a domestic capacity, and five graduates volunteering with JVC Northwest. Last year, 20 BC graduates volunteered in a domestic capacity, while eight individuals volunteered with JVC Northwest. In essence, the yield for volunteers has remained reasonably consistent over the past few years—this may be attributed to the sense of purpose and civic engagement that JVC’s volunteer programs often cultivate and nurture in their volunteers. The application itself serves as a tool of discernment for prospective volunteers to delineate most efficaciously their passions and interests. According to Daly, the application process, which differs for JV and JVC Northwest logistically, considers each applicant in a holistic capacity.

“The deadline for applications is in January, and although lengthy, the application very much concerns the matter of helping students find ‘the best fit’ with their placement of choice,” she said. “The application process is followed by an interview on campus, in which recruiters talk about things on a student’s resume—or something on their application—that peaks interest.”

The interview process is dictated by conversations about what inspires the applicant to pursue volunteer work following graduation, and what motivates the applicant to become a more compassionate and celebratory caregiver. Whether it is harvesting squash and watering plants with the L’Arche Farm in Tacoma, Wash., (a considerably popular destination for JVC Northwest recruits) or working with those afflicted by poverty and hunger, all volunteers are encouraged to emulate the model of mutual relationships and community. Following the interview process, if selected, volunteers may choose from a list of service placements both domestically and internationally, or for JVC Northwest.

Daly considered volunteering post-graduation to be a function of one’s passions in light of the work done by those at JVC and elsewhere. “While students are still at BC, the Volunteer Fair is a great way for people to explore their interests,” she said. “Whether or not students choose JVC, we encourage them to explore their passions and to do what they love.”

Featured Image by James Clark / Heights Photo