By Caitlin Graveson '11
David Johnson '84 has taken the Lasallian slogan, "Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve," to heart, and as a member of the Alumni Association's board of directors, he wants to both serve students and inspire students' interest in service. Last summer, Johnson worked with Marshall Welch, the director of CILSA, to put together a service internship for a Saint Mary's student.
"I was looking to engage with the College and have a positive impact," Johnson says. "I wanted to offer a student a unique experience to live out the ideals of De La Salle."
Through a contact of Welch, an intensive eight-week service internship in Palmer, Alaska, began to take shape. CILSA connected with the University of Alaska-Anchorage to put together the program, which largely included working with mental health patients. After interviewing multiple Saint Mary's students, Tiffany Hickey, a senior psychology major, was chosen.
"This experience confirmed my career goals and increased my interest in the area of social justice, specifically homelessness and mental health," Hickey says. "I learned so much valuable information about myself, the world, my prospective field of work and the world in general that cannot be taught in a classroom. I know I am stronger for stepping out into a new place alone, and I had the best summer experience of my life thus far."
The same internship in Palmer will be offered to a Saint Mary's student this summer.
Johnson is now working with the Alumni Association to establish an endowment fund which will guarantee the continuance of the program and to take the pressure off of finding funding each year. He wants to ensure that the alumni remain connected to the students and faculty.
"About 10 to 12 years ago, the Alumni Association was really involved with the students and with professors," Johnson says. "This is a chance to rekindle those relationships and alliances to create unique opportunities. At Saint Mary's, there is a chance for students to do things that students at larger institutions wouldn't get." Johnson says.
To learn more or to donate to the program, contact Alumni and Volunteer Relations at (925) 631-4200.