Natalina Depina ’03
be on a mission at BC
One day in 2010, Natalina Depina woke up at 4 a.m. filled with the sudden conviction that she needed to feed 5,000 people. “God spoke to me,” she says. “I hoped He planned to keep waking me up with some instructions, because I had no idea how I was supposed to do this!” But her sense that this was her mission grew. She was wondering where she was supposed to find all these people to feed when one day, she took a wrong turn and wound up in Los Angeles’s notorious Skid Row.
“It was the most incredible, devastating, overwhelming thing I had ever seen. I had no idea. I just could never have imagined that, here in America, there could be an area in the middle of a city with thousands and thousands of homeless, hungry people,” she recalls.
So she got some friends together and started making sandwiches in the kitchen of her small apartment. One or two weekends a month, she and her Project 5K volunteers head down to Skid Row and pass out meals. “It opened my eyes to how blessed I am. So many of these people are smart, talented, loving people who have no idea how they wound up there. They did everything right, worked hard, followed the rules, and yet here they are,” Depina says of the people she feeds.
After several years as a finance-industry paralegal in New York City and New Jersey, Depina decided she was ready for a new adventure, so she headed west. She joined John A. Joannes A.P.C., an immigration law firm in Brentwood, Calif., where she is now director of operations, and pursued an acting career.
Depina is looking forward to law school, and who knows where her acting career will lead? But she plans to continue her mission of feeding 5,000 people every year. “It’s probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she says.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
I’ve had some opportunities to take on challenges that were really beyond my skills and knowledge, and I’ve made it work. That’s a great feeling.
In your personal life?
What is your next goal?
What is the secret to success?
If I knew, I would be doing it!
Why did you decide to attend BC?
You know, BC was not my first choice—Brown University was, but they put me on the wait list. I went through the Options Through Education program at BC, and when Brown contacted me to offer me acceptance after my first semester, I said, “no way.” I had such incredible support at BC and great resources to really be successful; I could never have given that up. I made a great choice, and I’ve been happy about it ever since.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Study! Also, everybody should go to football games, for sure.
What is your fondest BC memory?
My classes with Professor David Twomey. I loved the way he taught, and I learned so much.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
Where did you live freshman year?
In a triple on Newton, and I didn’t like it!
What was your favorite BC class?
I loved my Religious Quests classes with Professor Margaret Shatkin, and my Labor, Law, and Employment classes with Professor Twomey.
What was your favorite BC activity?
I started a hip-hop dance group while I was at BC, and that was definitely my favorite thing.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
Oh my gosh—probably zero, now! I’m ashamed.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
They had pretty good food. Probably the wraps.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
I truly cannot wrap my brain around Fr. Leahy’s job. I can’t fathom how he does it.
What was your first job?
On graduation day, I got an amazing present—a phone call from Morgan Stanley offering me a job as a paralegal.
How have you changed since graduation?
Nine more years of life experience and maturity.
How do you relax?
I try to relax with swimming and movies.
What do you look forward to each day?
Every day is another day that I’m possibly able to help someone. And I strive every day to be a better person; sometimes it’s hard.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
My friends would probably be amazed to know that I can be shy.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?