Aug. 18, 2011
Long-term Service Surprises Business Graduate
|During his year of service in Costa Rica, Catholic University 2010 graduate Matt Aujero, middle, poses with students of an English class he taught at St. Francis High School in San Jose.
Matt Aujero didn’t expect so much would happen this past year, after graduating from Catholic University in May 2010. He had thought joining a long-term volunteer project in Central America would be a way “to see the world, figure out myself more…and get better in Spanish.” But in doing good, Aujero found his faith strengthened and his career path completely — and happily — altered.
In his junior year, Aujero attended Catholic University’s annual Baccalaureate Mass, at which the University community recognizes and prays for the new graduates headed to a long-term service project. It was the “first spark” in considering long-term service. Aujero thought, “Maybe I will look into this. Why shouldn’t I do it?”
In his senior year, Aujero joined Campus Ministry’s annual, weeklong mission trip to Belize. That was the “clincher.” He realized, “I think I can take the next step.”
So on graduating last year, he joined the FrancisCorps mission in impoverished Costa Rica.
Stationed at St. Francis High School in San Jose, Aujero organized service activities for the teens, like painting a home for the disabled and visiting with victims of sexual exploitation. Also, he continued two projects begun by Catholic University 2008 graduate and FrancisCorps alumna Liz Bonner, tutoring needy children and visiting the elderly sick.
In addition, spending most of his time in a school led Aujero — who holds a bachelor of science in business administration — to investigate an up-to-then casual interest in teaching. He ended up leading an English class.
“I was teaching ‘Beowulf’ and conversational English,” he recalls, and “I just loved it so much!”
So now, the business major just returned from Costa Rica has a new objective: teaching.
But “one of the biggest gifts” from the experience, he says, is a spiritual one.
In San Jose, during the week, Aujero went to Mass with the Franciscan friars. And daily, he and his fellow lay missionaries prayed together, sometimes just a decade of a rosary.
Aujero says he discovered that a shared focus on God is “actually possible” in everyday life.
“I want to carry that to my future community, my family. That experience shapes the type of father I want to be and type of family I want.”
“I got a lot more than I expected,” Aujero says of his long-term service experience.
This year, charitable works — including those performed in long-term service projects — may be logged in Catholic University’s Cardinal Service Commitment, a service campaign marking Catholic University’s 125th anniversary. In thanksgiving for more than a century of God’s blessings at Catholic University, students, alumni, faculty, and staff are striving to perform 125,000 hours of service by next Founders Day, April 10, 2012. For more information and to log hours, visit http://www.cua.edu/125/.