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SCU has helped me discover my gift for helping others
Santa Clara has challenged me to discover how my gifts meet the world's needs. One of my key experiences as a student has been serving as a community facilitator, advising my fellow students in the residence halls and helping to build the community there. It has been hard work, and required long hours, but I have found much joy and energy in touching students' lives. I learned that is what life is about for me: hearing people and caring for them.
The Santa Clara family has also inspired me. One of the reasons I chose to attend Santa Clara was the promise of small classes and professors who really cared about their students. What I found was above and beyond any claim that the University had made. The most compelling example is my accounting professor, Steven Wade, who has become not only a mentor but also a dear friend. He showed me what it really means to give to a community. He donates his resources, time, and money to his students and to Catholic Charities, where he has set up a service in the evenings and weekends during tax season for those who don't understand their tax forms and can't afford to pay someone else to do it. He invites each of his classes to go with him. He has found a way to use his skills and resources to help others, illustrating the University's strong commitment to social justice in our local communities and abroad.
Santa Clara has helped me become more globally aware, through courses, student programs and especially with the incredibly eye-opening Globalization Institute that Santa Clara sponsored in 2002-03. Recently, I had the chance to experience some of these issues first-hand on an all too short trip to El Salvador. I went with a friend to the Salvadoran countryside, and spent a night with a small family. My heart was broken by a beautiful 5-year-old girl who, at first, was scared of me. As she warmed up to us, she ended up in my lap. She was running a fever and her tiny body was incredibly hot. Her coughing didn't stop all night. We let the family know that they should take her to the doctor. They explained that they knew she was sick, but it was half a day's journey to the doctor's office. They couldn't afford to make the trip and we simply didn't have time to help them. On my flight back to California, I reflected on how blessed my life has been. This experience strengthened my resolve to do something with my life that would have an impact on these people, on people in the world who are most in need.
I found my gift, the strong desire to touch people's lives, to heal them. And so I chose to follow my heart, to pursue the study of medicine. While I watched my friends enjoy their last year in college, I was catching up on the hard sciences. Last summer I took a full year of organic chemistry in just nine weeks. It's been a lot of work, but once again, I've been supported by the University- my community. My long nights and hard work are justified by my desire to be a woman who lives for this world, and for all of the people who inhabit it.
I have learned so much and been given so much from Santa Clara. What I really feel that I will keep with me for the rest of my life is the ability to challenge myself, not just intellectually, but as an integral piece of creating change in this world.
I am still searching, and I hope that the journey never ends. As I move forward, I pray that I continue to live with passion and love. I will work to believe in people and encourage them to follow their heart, just as so many others have encouraged and believed in me.
Tasce Simon is a senior accounting major from Vancouver, Wash. This essay is an edited version of her comments made at the President's Club dinner in October 2003.