Becca Van Galder ‘13 Finding Pathways Out of Poverty

Wed, 10/09/2013 - 8:15am
image upload by lreese

Spring Hill alumna Rebecca “Becca” Van Galder ’13 is spending her first months as a college graduate helping people in Tucson, Ariz., find pathways out of poverty.

Van Galder, a Spring Hill legacy, made the decision to attend SHC very early on in the college search process. “My older sister was a Badger, so I fell in love with the campus and the community during my visits with her,” says Van Galder. “When I was in high school, I also attended summer retreats here. Those retreats introduced me to the Jesuits and the idea of living for others – so my choice to come to school here was an easy one!”

The Norcross, Ga., native majored in marketing and management on The Hill, and most appreciated the college’s small, intimate setting and family atmosphere. “I was very impressed that my professors not only learned my name, but remembered it long after I left their classes,” adds Van Galder. “I had some teachers my first semester of freshman year who still greeted me personally around campus when I was a senior, which meant a lot to me.”

Assistant Professor of English and Writing Steven Almquist calls Van Galder a delight to work with in the classroom. “I often joked with Becca that she should have been an English major,” says Almquist. “Even though she pursued business, I was lucky to teach her several times during her years at SHC, from her first-semester composition course to upper division courses: Women Writers of the World and Globalizing Migration.  Becca always impressed me with her thoughtfulness, her intellectual engagement, and her willingness to contribute to class discussions.”  

Spring Hill College professor of Accounting Andrew Sharp, Van Galder’s advisor, is equally impressed with her drive, ambition, and thoughtful nature. “Rebecca graduated from the college of business as a delightful honors student with a deep understanding and appreciation of culture, diversity and service,” says Sharp. “She developed these values through her balanced academic program in management and marketing, coupled with a minor in Spanish, and several courses involving Liturgical Chorus. This helped provide the foundation for her calling to serve others.”

On campus, Van Galder served as a student leader for the International Service Immersion Program, was involved in the Spring Hill Awakening Program (SHAPe), Campus Ministry Leadership Institute (CMLI), and Delta Gamma fraternity. During her summers in Atlanta, she volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and served as a market research assistant with Heraeus Noblelight.

Van Galder decided to apply to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) after meeting various Jesuit Volunteers throughout high school and college. Through JVC, Van Galder was placed with Primavera Foundation in Tucson. Primavera offers assistance to people experiencing homelessness and poverty, with programs ranging from immediate help providing the essentials of food or shelter to longer-term options of transitional and affordable housing.

“My job is with Primavera's newest affordable housing unit, Las Abuelitas, caters to ‘grandfamilies’ (grandparents raising their grandchildren),” says Van Galder. “I am in the process of starting an after-school care program for the children who live there and in the surrounding communities. Working as a JV in this capacity is very exciting because I'm starting something completely new.”

Though she will serve in Arizona for only 12 months, Van Galder is certain that the Las Abuelitas project will benefit the area for many years in the future. “Service has always been important to me and this seemed like the perfect way for me to continue that after college and incorporate it into my career goal of eventually working in a non-profit organization,” explains Van Galder. “At Spring Hill, students are charged with the mission to become leaders engaged in learning, faith, justice, and service for life. To me, the four values of JVC – community, spirituality, simple living, and social justice – are a continuation of that mission.” 

Van Galder’s SHC professors agree that her efforts and dedication will make a lasting impact. “I was thrilled when I learned Becca was going to serve in the JVC,” adds Almquist. “I know she will continue to represent Spring Hill College positively and impressively.”