Mercyhurst Magazine Summer 2015

Michelle Ahrens ‘16 & Sarah Anderson ‘15 Michelle Ahrens and Sarah Anderson got a head start on the year of service experience while they were still undergraduates. The two left campus life behind and moved right into the House of Mercy, living and working with Sister Michele Schroeck, RSM. Established in 2002, the House of Mercy on Erie’s eastside is modeled after Catherine McAuley’s original House of Mercy in Dublin. The two remained full-time students, but lived at the residence at a reduced rent and averaged 10 hours of service a week. They primarily interacted with neighborhood children, helping with homework after school and engaging in evening activities like crafts, games, holiday baking and environmental projects. Michelle, a senior social work/religious studies major from Erie, says the year was an opportunity to break free from the "bubble" many college students fnd themselves living in. “The constant contact with the neighborhood's children and families caused me to remain grounded in the fact that, while academics are important, there is so much more to this world, both negative and hopeful,” she says. Sarah, who graduated this year with a religious studies major and a Catholic studies minor, adds that she particularly enjoyed learning how the neighborhood’s refugee families have adapted to life in the United States, and says she learned a great deal about their cultures, religions and practices. The year proved so rewarding that Sarah has opted for another year of service post-graduation as a Mercy Volunteer Corps member serving at St. Peter’s Adult Learning Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Eventually she hopes to work with children and teach them about the Catholic faith. Michelle is moving back home and commuting to campus for her senior year. She says she sees herself eventually in the social work feld, working with children in some capacity – or maybe living in a log cabin on top of a mountain where she’ll sit and knit by the fre with her pet St. Bernard! “I carry the Mercy Mission, plain and simple. It is what inspires me and what I aspire to in my life.” – Jef Cagle ‘07

Alicia Cagle ‘13 (right)

Alicia Cagle ‘13 Communication major Alicia Cagle chose to serve with AmeriCorps – just as her brother Jef ’07 had done earlier. She was placed at Higher Achievement Richmond. Though she was involved in many projects, she is most proud of her work with the 7th and 8th grade scholars and the development of Higher Achievement Richmond’s High School Placement program. She planned and ran the Green Apple Awards graduation ceremony for all the 8th graders, guided scholars and their families through the high school admissions process, and made sure all students knew the opportunities available to them that best ft their goals. “Nothing is more rewarding to me than the impact I had on the scholars and the impact they had on me,” she says. “The scholars would greet me with hugs, ask me for help on homework, come to me for advice for any middle school problems, and knew that, overall, I would be there for them.” Besides hands-on experience with volunteer management, event planning, social media, capacity building, etc., she absorbed the Higher Achievement culture – celebrating coworkers for their accomplishments, collaboration, striving for excellence – and sees it crossing over into other jobs. Since wrapping up her AmeriCorps assignment, Alicia has started a master’s program at George Mason University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, including a summer study abroad experience in Jordan.


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