Wheeling Jesuit students and staff participate in service-immersion trips

  WJU News
  Tuesday, December 11, 2018 10:50 AM
  Alumni, Service, WJU News, Student Services

Wheeling, WV

This week, several students and staff members from Wheeling Jesuit University have traveled to either Detroit or Pittsburgh for service-immersion experiences. These immersion trips are coordinated and organized by the University's Service for Social Action Center (SSAC). 

This is the University's first-ever Detroit immersion trip, which was created in collaboration with the University of Detroit-Mercy and Detroit Cristo Rey. This immersion experience will feature education regarding issues of anti-racism and cultural diversity. Members from Wheeling Jesuit will be in Detroit until Friday, Dec. 14. 

The trip to Pittsburgh, "The Pittsburgh Urban Plunge," is sponsored by a collaboration of alumni from Wheeling Jesuit University and the University of Notre Dame. This immersion trip will include visits to different non-profit organizations addressing a variety of topics concerning social justice. Students and staff will return from Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dec. 11. 

"We stayed at a men's shelter and met with different non-profits that help the under-served, marginalized, impoverished, and those experiencing homelessness. We first met with Dan Haller, Esq. '61, who works at Neighborhood Legal Services. The other alumnus we met was Fr. Paul Abernathy '01, who runs FOCUS North America; this group has recently developed an incredible trauma response team that serves the community. They are also known for their backpack program which provides backpacks full of food for kids whose only meal of the day is usually the free lunch they receive at school," said Mary Meiman, admissions representative at WJU.

The students that are going on the Detroit trip will be led by Colleen Ryan Mayrand, director of the Service for Social Action Center. This group includes Tarry Asinda, Sarah Blasiman, Swazi Blue, Faith Cailaa-Harris (student leader), Benny Corral (student leader), Tissan Joel, Jake Kim, Gian Morassutti, Madrey Polloi, Melissa Rios (student leader), and Mackenzie Shepard. 

Puddy Agans, coordinator of the Service for Social Action Center, and Mary Meiman, alumna, are leading the group of students that are traveling to Pittsburgh. This group includes Dona'e Albert, Cheyenne Carraway, Claire Dieffenbaugher, Brianna Grimes, Jonathan Haley (alumnus), Gabriella Kanters, Maria Ruggery, Cameron Smith, and Chelsey Ward. 

Meiman continued, "We also went to Gwen's Girls, which provides after school and summer programming for girls ages 8-18, and Crossroads Foundation, which partners with a few Pittsburgh area Catholic high schools to provide better educational opportunities and futures for 8th-12th graders. This past year, 93% of their scholars went to a four-year college and the other scholar went into the military. We visited Casa San Jose, operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph and that serves Latino immigrants in the city. The last place we went, Focus on Renewal, serves Sto-Rox and provides services from culinary and dance programs to transportation to appointments. This immersion trip was more focused on listening and learning about social justice as opposed to rolling up your sleeves and jumping right in."

These immersion trips, which happen throughout the course of the year, allow Wheeling Jesuit students to recognize the difficulties of diverse environments, many of which parallel the same issues in the local community. The students are challenged to bring back the skills and understanding they received on the immersion to better serve the University as well as the Wheeling area. 

Wheeling Jesuit University is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country offering 25 majors and concentrations, 15 minors, and six graduate programs. The University provides a Jesuit, Catholic, liberal arts education, and our affordable programs unite the Jesuit tradition of intellectual excellence allowing students to receive an education for life, leadership and service with and among others. The 65-acre campus is situated on the Ohio River 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, and two hours east of Columbus, in Wheeling, WV.  

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