Spring Hill “Shining Star” Carolina Dominguez '13 to Serve in Belize

Mon, 07/01/2013 - 2:15pm
Carolina Dominguez

Spring Hill graduate Carolina Dominguez is preparing for the greatest challenge of her life. This July, Dominguez leaves family, friends, and all of the comforts of home in Miami, Fla., for a two-year commitment in Belize with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, or JVC.

For Dominguez, a dynamic psychology major who served as 2013 graduation senior class orator, the JVC was a natural fit. “My calling to give back was stronger than my desire to start a career or begin my graduate studies,” she says. “It was in my heart that I needed to do a service project first.”

Dominguez says her time at Spring Hill had a tremendous impact on her personal growth and spirituality. “During my initial college search, I was actually looking at a larger university in Florida,” she says. “But when I visited Spring Hill, I fell in love with the class size and environment. I fell in love with psychology as a major and the Jesuit commitment to service.”

The first-generation American—her parents were born in Cuba—had her first taste of international service projects while on an immersion trip to Nicaragua with other Spring Hill students.

Dr. Stephen Wilson, associate professor of theology, served as a faculty advisor on her trip to Nicaragua and attests to Dominguez’s passion. He says, “I encouraged her to get involved because I thought she was the type of person who would enjoy the experience and, in turn, be transformed by it.”

This past spring Dominguez participated in an immersion trip to Jamaica, taking on additional responsibility as a student leader. “Carolina excelled at that, in large part, because of her friendly and outgoing personality. She is without doubt one of the most energetic people I have ever known,” adds Wilson, who says those same qualities will help Carolina excel as a Jesuit Volunteer.

“I’ve felt most alive and purposeful at Spring Hill,” says Dominguez. “If I’d gone to another university, I might not have attended daily mass and spent time listening to the homilies. Spring Hill challenged me both inside and outside the classroom—I graduated with a much greater global perspective and a passion for living Jesuit ideals.”

While Dominguez considered joining organizations like the Peace Corps, she explains that no program caught her attention like the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. “The JVC is built on three pillars:  community, social justice, and simple living. In Belize, I will be living like the people I am serving. No cell phone, no computer. I’m not allowed to come back to the United States for two years.” 

To soften the lengthy separation, Dominguez is soaking up every last moment with her parents, younger brother, twin sister, and grandparents in Miami. In preparation for her journey, Dominguez is studying everything she can on Belize history, culture, and population, while reading “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything,” by James Martin, S.J.

On July 7, Dominguez leaves for a three-week JVC orientation and retreat in Pennsylvania. July 23, she flies to Belize City, where she will begin her work with the people of St. Martin de Porres church.

In most instances, JVCs begin work with no existing connections to the local community. However, in Belize City, Dominguez will have the unique opportunity to live alongside fellow Jesuit Volunteer and 2011 Spring Hill graduate, Gina Pambianchi.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be serving with another Badger. We will both be serving in the St. Martin de Porres church, however, in different positions. Gina works in the school and I will work in the church as a pastoral assistant,” Dominguez explains. “I’m so excited to get started. And at the end of two years, I want to say that I gave everything I had to the church and to the kids.”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Jamie Franco-Zamudio notes that Dominguez embodies the Jesuit value of Cura Personalis—care for the whole person—making her a perfect candidate to serve others through JVC.

“Carolina radiates enthusiasm and joy—inspiring everyone around her,” says Dr. Franco-Zamudio. “She not only consistently had one of the highest grades in my classes, but she encouraged others to reach their full potential as well. Carolina is the type of person that you want on your team. She is a true shining star!”

After completion of her JVC commitment, Dominguez plans to pursue a doctor of psychology degree with the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist for adolescents.

The 2013 Jesuit Volunteers Corps is comprised of 340 students from 26 states and the District of Columbia. Volunteers work in 49 American communities and six countries, including Chile, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Peru, and Tanzania.

To find out more information about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps program, visit www.jesuitvolunteers.org.