The Diocese of Joliet’s annual University Mission trip to Sucre, Boliva included 12 Lewis University students, faculty and staff members. From June 7-20, students performed their service at six sites in Bolivia including an orphanage, two daycare centers and three hospitals. At the hospitals, they interacted with patients and doctors and observed medical procedures. Students also spent time playing with children, helping children through their daily activities and reading to them at the daycares and orphanage. In addition, students cooked, shopped, collected donations and painted murals at various sites.
“The mission trip changed me as a person, by helping me realize how fortunate I really am. The people in Bolivia are so grateful and so happy, yet they lack a lot of material goods. They helped me understand that happiness resides in the simple things,” said Sean Ruane, a double major in history and secondary education at Lewis University.
Ruane added, “Now that I am back home, I am constantly praying and thanking God each day for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me. I plan on living each day with a sense of simplicity and humility in my heart.” In August, Ruane will continue serving others as a Lasallian Volunteer. A non-profit organization, Lasallian Volunteers is a program of the De La Salle Christian Brothers whose mission is to meet the educational needs of the poor.
While some were inspired to increase their volunteerism, others became more passionate about their career decisions. Kimberly Cammack, Lewis University nursing student, said, “Observing in the hospital and talking with surgeons further assured me that I was destined to work in the medical field and help patients.” In addition to helping and observing in the hospital, Cammack taught boys at one of the orphanages how to brush their teeth and maintain proper hygiene.
“It's so rewarding to see the impact our students have on the Bolivians and one another,” commented Martha Villegas-Miranda, Lewis University Coordinator of Volunteer Outreach.
Students on the trip included: Mayrna Akroush of Orland Park, Kimberly Cammack of Manhattan, Amanda Davalos of Lockport, Jessica Kush of Romeoville, Ivette Manzo of Chicago, Sean Ruane of Mokena, Liana Vantrease of Alsip, Monisa Victrum of Joliet, Cassie Waliczek of Orland Park and Melanie Zaragoza of Plainfield.
Martha Villegas-Miranda, coordinator of Volunteer Outreach, and Dr. Lauren Rentfro, assistant professor of Secondary Education, were also participants on the trip. Rentfro offered a handful of lectures to Bolivian university professionals and students while on the trip.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally aware, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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