On Monday, February 17, 2014 CILSA celebrated its fifth annual CILSA Awards Dinner. Awards were given to a Saint Mary's staff member, faculty member, community partner, alumni and student. This story highlights Danny Vieira ('14) who received the CILSA Engaged Student Award.
Danny is a servant-leader. Danny’s involvement with CILSA began when he enrolled for a Jan-term class on Rwanda co-taught by our Associate Director, Jennifer Pigza and CILSA Board Member Jim Losi. It was an on-campus course and did not actually visit Rwanda that year. Danny was the only male in the class. He quickly caught the energy and became involved with CILSA after that class. Danny’s first role with CILSA was through the Bonner Leader program. He served as an after school program coordinator at St. Martin de Porres school for two years.
During the summer of 2012, Danny shared an apartment with three other students as part of the MICAH Summer Fellowship Program. As we heard earlier this evening, he worked with Dr. Burns at the Prescott-Joseph Center and did an exceptional job doing research and policy briefs to help the center develop its family resource center. Dr. Burns…the Director of Prescott Joseph Center who we met earlier tonight says “Danny was amazing! We counted on him. He really came through for us.” Danny said of his experience that, “the success of the program is not defined by the change that I made during the eight weeks I was in West Oakland…But rather…I realized it is defined by what I do afterwards…it’s what I do next with my life and that’s the most important thing I took away from the experience.”
This year Danny is serving as the Senior Bonner Leader Intern helping manage many aspects of the program. In my time working with Danny, he has shown himself to be a great mentor using his prior experience as a Bonner Leader to coach and guide our current group in "making meaning" of their service experience. Danny's dedication and commitment to service is clearly evident in all that he does and with everyone he interacts with.
He also serves on Marshall’s informal student advisory council known as the kitchen cabinet. Danny and two other student leaders meet with Marshall on a regular basis to help shape the direction of student leadership programs in CILSA. This included co-leading a town hall meeting with 30 CILSA student leaders during the summer.
Meanwhile…Danny continues to coach soccer for West Oakland youth at Prescott-Joseph. Not only that….he serves on the board for the Catholic Campaign on Human Development and one of his roles is to review grant proposals.
And finally, Danny has just returned from a Jan-term travel course to….you guessed it…Rwanda. A fitting book-end to his CILSA experience.