Ursuline News

Engaging in Serviam During an Unprecedented Year

The Service Learning Experience class takes students’ individualized passions about world issues and encourages them to work with a local, non-profit partner to create a sustainable program or permanent impact project.

Under the direction of Service Coordinator Gabi Merani ‘04, students use the UN’s Goals of Sustainability to narrow down their projects into areas they wanted to focus on. The blended-learning format provides a foundation for communication with professionals across the Dallas metroplex.

“I am proud of all these students who took on these large projects during such an unprecedented year for engaging in Serviam,” said Ms. Merani. “These service experiences show how much hard work and exhaustive energy these girls put into serving a non-profit centered around each group’s UN Sustainability Goal of their passion. Know their partner organizations will reap the benefits of their Serviam spirit!”

Aileen Alarcon ’22, Juliana Stanford ’21, Siena Theivagt ’22, and Sarah Troegel ’21 partnered to explore the United Nation Goal, Life on Land. They focused their efforts on the importance of recycling and advocating against the fast fashion industry.

Their research led them to invite students across the Dallas metroplex to create clothing and accessories made from recycled materials or household items to model in a fashion show at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The show featured purely recycled fashion items.

“We thought that shopping habits would be a good area of focus, since the fashion industry is largely responsible for the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere each year,” said Sarah.

“Our hope was for viewers and contestants to see what they can create from their ‘trash’ using just a little bit of creativity,” said Aileen.

 Marlo Caracio ’22 partnered with Alexa Denton ’21 and they are working with United to Learn, a local non-profit which helps educate students in Dallas.

"We are passionate about education and helping children get a better education,” they said.

They will be donating books to Pershing Elementary School and creating videos with questions about the books to help raise the student’s reading comprehension levels.

 Marissa Cash ’21 and Libby Tullis ’22 took on three projects this year.

The first? A partnership with Samaritan Inn. They created flyers providing shelter information for their donation bags, of which Samaritan Inn plans to distribute directly to homeless individuals within the DFW area.

The second? A partnership with former physics professor Andres Larazza, who recently founded the nonprofit, Student Parent Achievement Academy (SPAA). SPAA aims to provide in-person and online classes for parents to help them obtain skills that will be used to plan their child’s higher education.

“Libby and I have been working with Mr. Larazza to create a club here at Ursuline where student volunteers can sign up to attend and aid classes or tutor children,” said Marissa.

Their final project includes advocacy. Marissa and Libby have been presenting to UA underclassmen about the most pertinent issues of poverty, spreading awareness surrounding their chosen issue.

“Service Learning has taught me how to put my passions into action,” said Libby. “I always had hopes to help the impoverished, but this class pushed me to find a way to help and advocate for people in need by doing small acts of kindness that our whole community could help with.”

Julie Seigler ‘21 and Juliana Sierra ‘21 are raising money for their Venezuelan Service Project. Their goal is to purchase canned goods, powdered milk, baby formula, medication, and diapers.

Currently, they have raised $265 and look forward to sending the donations through Rotary International. The goods will go to families that are suffering from malnutrition.

“This project is super important to me since I have seen the necessity firsthand in Venezuela,” said Julie. “My family is Venezuelan, and they have been extremely supported throughout this service project.”

“After seeing the tragedy Venezuelans have been facing for a long time I wanted to help,” said Juliana. “Sending food and basic necessities to children in need is the least we can do. It also gives hope to the families in need.”

Breanne Tehan ‘22 is working independently on a service project to support the health and well-being of pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital.

“I have partnered with Children’s Cancer Fund, a non-profit located here in Dallas, where I have created a program called Teens Connect,” she said. “The goal is to provide a space for teens to help local teens.”

Teens Connect builds “swag bags” filled with donated items from Tom Thumb, Sam’s Club, and Chick-fil-a for incoming patients. Ursuline students have been rallied to contribute as well.

Her hope for the future of the program? To build Teens Connect by partnering with the language department at Ursuline to reach out to pediatrics hospitals overseas.