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Volunteering the Answer?

Overnight helps students mull post-grad options


By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff

Published: Dec. 20, 2011

It’s the question every senior hears ad nauseum this time of year: What are your plans after graduation?

For some Boston College students, the answer is service. According to the University’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC), on average approximately 250 BC seniors opt to spend the first year after graduation in some sort of volunteer capacity, whether in the US or other parts of the world.

To help seniors who may be struggling with their post-BC plans, three years ago the VSLC began sponsoring an annual Post Graduate Volunteer Discernment Overnight.

“This is such a busy time of year for students. The Discernment Overnight gives them the opportunity to get off campus and reflect on where they are being called,” said VSLC Assistant Director Kate Daly. “Over the years we’ve found that it is helpful for students to speak to peers and graduates when they are making such a big decision.”

Earlier this month, a small group of students attended this year’s overnight at the Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center in Dover, where they heard from BC alumni offering different perspectives on the post-graduation question: one who is in the midst of a volunteer experience; another who considered volunteering but decided against it; and a married couple who, individually, participated in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the American Council on Education before starting careers.

College of Arts and Sciences senior MaryJo Maliekel felt she benefited from the event. “The Discernment Overnight was really helpful because it catered to students who are in various places within their own discernment. There were students who already know that they want to serve next year, but need to discern which program was best. Others, particularly me, were or are still in the process of deciding whether or not to spend a year of service. And the retreat helped us all.”
Her fellow A&S senior Megan Monahan agreed.

“It helped to be able to get away from hectic campus life and reflect on some big life questions. The Discernment Overnight was a great space in which to hear from past and present volunteers, ask questions, and continue my personal journey towards my vocation.

“I also enjoyed sharing with other seniors who are discerning similar questions, especially since I sometimes feel isolated in my questioning,” said Monahan.

To learn more about the program, see