Community Involvement Coordinator

Lindsay used her skills from Seminar classes and her passion for social justice to become a community leader through the Jesuit Volunteers program. 

Name: Lindsay Swoboda
Nickname at SMC: Say
Major: Communication
Minor: Justice and Community
Year of Graduation: 2010
Hometown: Escondido

What is one of your fondest memories of SMC?  Of the Communication Department?
The basketball games, for sure!  You get to see alumni, community members, and current students coming together to cheer on the Gaels.  Trust me, the Gaels are the most spirited fans in the WCC, and you don’t want to miss out on that! 

My fondest memories of the Communication Department are of the incredible professors. Every professor that I had was passionate about what he or she taught and loved his or her job.  They set up their classes in a way that fostered conversation and made it possible for us to all learn from each other.  Also, they took the time to meet with me individually if I needed extra help or had questions.  Each one pushed me to new limits and taught me to think critically about the world around me, and I will always be grateful for that.

What do you miss about SMC/college?
Everything!  Seriously, enjoy your time in college because life there is pretty fantastic, especially at St. Mary’s!  You wake up in the morning go to a class (taught by the teacher not a T.A.) filled with students who are engaged and eager to learn and a professor who is energetic about teaching and learning from their students.  After class you head to Oliver Hall for lunch, then sit in the quad with your friends to enjoy the sun and good conversation.  Later you head back to your dorm to do some reading and homework and then grab your friends for dinner off campus.  Later you go to a fun late night event put on by Campus Activities Board.  Of course, there were challenging times, but I miss being surrounded by people who cared about our community, pushed me to new limits, and of course knew how to have fun!

 What was the biggest transformation you experienced at SMC? 
During Jan Term of my freshman year I traveled to New Orleans with a group of 25 students and one professor.  We lived on a bus for three weeks and did direct Hurricane Katrina relief work for 10 hours a day.  Once we got home from our long day of working we would cook dinner and eat together then work on our video projects that were due for the class.  It was an extremely challenging month.  We lived in tight quarters and were together ALL of the time, but ultimately that is what helped us get through the trip.  We were constantly surrounded by poverty, human suffering, and people who had lost everything.  We relied on one another for support and helped each other make sense of all of the chaos.  I came back from that trip a completely different person.   What I valued, what I thought about myself, my friends, and overall my outlook on life all changed.  Ultimately, it ended up shaping my experience at St. Mary’s and helped me find my passion for social justice. 

All-time favorite class?  Why?
My favorite class was Communication and Social Justice with Scott Schonfeldt-Aultman.  We looked at the hip-hop culture and how it relates to communication and social justice.  The class was diverse, and the students all had very different worldviews, which really added to the discussion.  Scott brought in local rap artists and legends to talk about the hip-hop culture in the Bay Area.  We read and discussed how vital hip-hop was to certain communities as a form of communication and resistance.  We worked with Ise Lyfe’s non-profit and helped him promote his new book and spoken word show.  In fact, some of the students in my class still work with him.  The best part about the class was that it made all of us uncomfortable at times, and that is truly what education is about because that is the point when you are pushed to your highest potential.

What was your first job out of college?  How prepared were you for that job? 
After college I chose to join Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  Through this program I was placed in Missoula, Montana, at the YWCA as a Women’s Advocate in a domestic violence shelter.  During this year of service volunteers are encouraged to focus on four values: simplicity, spirituality, community, and social justice. 

The transition out of college was a tough one.  I missed Saint Mary’s, my friends, my professors, and the Bay Area. I even missed classes and homework.  Fortunately, I worked with people in crisis, which kept me busy and on my toes.  I spent my college career talking about communication and learning how to communicate more effectively, but I never really thought about how important listening can be.  During my first year of service I had to learn very quickly how to actively listen to my clients.  My job was less about talking and more about just being present to the people in crisis.  I ended up loving the work I was doing and would like to continue to work with survivors of domestic violence in the future. 

What's your position now?  What's the best part of your current job?  What's the worst part?
After my first year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps I decided to sign up for another year, so, I applied for a position that was completely different than the job I had the year before.  This year I was placed in San Jose, California, at Sacred Heart Community Service working as a Community Involvement Coordinator.  My background in Communication has really been applicable to this job.  I spend most of my day talking to volunteers about Sacred Heart and giving tours of the agency.  I have to be very engaging and comfortable with public speaking.  Throughout my time at SMC I was given the opportunity to speak to large groups about my Jan Term experiences and my involvement with different departments on campus, which really helped prepare me for this year.  I also have the opportunity to co-facilitate a seminar class for San Jose State University.  On the first day of the class I asked the students if any of them had ever been in a seminar class before. Not one of them had,  so I had to explain how the class would not work if they did not read and participate.  I suddenly had a newfound respect for my seminar professors in college and all they had to take into consideration.  More importantly, I discovered how special and rare the education I got was.  Although seminar classes can be tedious and the small class sizes mean everyone has to participate, I can promise incoming students that it will be very beneficial to them once they graduate. 

"I now know how to facilitate a conversation and effectively get my point across better than most of my peers." 

Other than work, what is your life about? 
Currently, I spend my time with my community members exploring the South Bay, attempting to challenge societal norms, and trying to inspire volunteers to get involved at Sacred Heart.  I have found a new love for reading after college.  I also have found the time to start running, and I am going to run a marathon in the spring.  I still keep in touch with all of my college friends, and to this day they are still some of the best friends I have.  Even though I never thought life would be as good as it was in college, I have found that now I have time for new hobbies and time to just simply sit and relax. Life is different but good!

What's your advice for current SMC students?
My advice for current SMC students is to live it up!  Say yes to everything!  Do things that you may never have the opportunity to do otherwise.  Challenge yourself and those around you, and don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable.  Read!!!  I promise you that you will have wished you read more and soaked in more information.  Go to basketball games, especially against the Zags.  Finally, get involved, and find your niche on campus.  Whether it is the Republican Club or Campus Activities Board, there is something for everyone.  Saint Mary’s is your school. Own it, and make it even better for the students who will come after you!

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