After graduating from college, you have lots of options. This series highlights people who chose service, and how the volunteer experience has made an impact on their lives.
Name: Amanda Scanameo
Volunteer Program: Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry
Location: Baltimore, MD
Hometown: Muncie, IN
College: Marian University, ’16 – Biology major
How did you first learn about post-graduate service? My school organized a post-graduate service fair and a mentor invited me to it (thanks for the nudge, Jeanne!). I got to speak to recruiters from several different programs and I found that I was most intrigued by the faith-based healthcare ones.
What other options were available to you, and why did you decide on your service program? Throughout college, I had an internship at a nonprofit doing clinical research that I absolutely loved. When I was applying to service programs, my boss offered me a full-time position and I was deeply torn between the two options. I found my answer through prayer in Scripture: Mark 8:22-26. In this Gospel story, Jesus heals a blind man in Bethsaida. Before Jesus laid hands on him it reads, “he took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.” It was then that I realized that I was the blind man and that Jesus was leading me outside of the comfort of my own “village” to Baltimore to grow in faith and further explore my love for social justice through service. I was attracted to BSVM in particular for several reasons: growing in faith with my awesome intentional community, living in the same neighborhood I work in, continuing the mission of the Sisters of Bon Secours as a lay person, and serving in a health care setting.
Share about your service placement and volunteer community experience. My intentional community is like a family to me. Meeting five strangers on the day you move in with them and instantly being friends is an amazing experience. We spend a lot of time together doing ordinary things like cooking and commuting, and we have lots of fun exploring the city and checking out all of the (free!) things it has to offer. It’s really nice to have friends to do life with, whether we are celebrating a medical school acceptance or feeling a little extra homesick. It also provides a great space for me to process everything I’m going through this year, from living in the inner city to the joys and challenges I face at work each day.
What benefits have you gained from this experience that you might not have received otherwise? I have gained professional experience in the field of social work, which has been an incredible opportunity for someone like me, who did not study social work as an undergrad. That being said, it has also been a whirlwind of a learning experience! I’ve been able to live in the inner city, and trust me—it’s just as beautiful and messy as the suburbs I grew up in, and not nearly as exotic as I expected. Living in community has made me a better roommate, sister, and daughter; it has helped me get better at communication (passive-aggressive sticky notes don’t count!) and building relationships based on trust and vulnerability. Living simply has helped me to better discern my true needs and live more responsibly, in a way that respects others. I’ve relied more on my faith this year than ever before, which has deepened my relationship with God. I have also learned the great value of being present to others, and been able to practice doing so in my work with dialysis patients and also in my community.
What advice do you have for someone considering post-graduate service? If you’re thinking about it, DO IT! Sure, post-grad service isn’t the best fit for everyone, but if you’re even considering it, chances are it would be a good fit for you. It’s a great chance for personal and professional growth. It’s an amazing opportunity for human formation and a good way to be challenged and become a better person because of it. Pray, journal, and talk with a mentor on a regular basis to help make the decision. Contact organizations that interest you and ask to speak to a current volunteer to get some perspective. Be open to the possibility and eventually to the experience!
To learn more about post-grad service opportunities, check out our RESPONSE directory, listing thousands of opportunities across the United States and abroad.