I am Maggie Birkel, 22. I’m passionately committed to social justice and have focused my time outside the classroom working on urban problems, including New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and working for the rights of women, LGBT persons, low wage workers and others who are disadvantaged or discriminated against. I grew up in Washington, DC where I attended Episcopal schools affiliated with the National Cathedral which encouraged and valued service. I was raised in a socially engaged downtown United Methodist Church whose membership is very diverse in race, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. Beginning in 2006 during my sophomore year in high school, I made the first 2 of 6 trips to New Orleans or the Gulf Coast to work on Katrina recovery, primarily with the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. I organized a group trip in June of ’06 for friends and parent chaperones. Later, I was instrumental in encouraging my high school, the National Cathedral School, to send a student and faculty group to New Orleans work on recovery annually thereafter. While in college at Northwestern University, I co-organized a trip for our students to work with Operation Helping Hands. My work in the devastation of New Orleans and the opportunity to observe the resilience of the community and its progress since 2005 has inspired much of the direction of my life. At Northwestern, I was one of the co-directors of our Living Wage Campaign which emphasized stronger, more open community between students and workers and within groups of workers while organizing for improved working conditions on our campus. Though Northwestern’s fight for a more holistic community and better working environment for our campus workers continues, last August we were successful in winning a new contract with higher wages, better healthcare benefits, and immigration protections for our campus dining hall workers. Also while at Northwestern, I volunteered with and co-chaired our freshman pre-orientation program focused on the City of Chicago and both its special culture and its challenges with poverty, education, youth crime, and other social problems. I was also on the executive board for Northwestern’s Community Development Corps which is our school’s umbrella service and social justice organization.
I majored in both History and Gender Studies and, with the help of research grants explored archives at Tulane, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and other sources to write a senior honors thesis entitled, “Sin City South, Women’s Sexuality in Unexamined Social Histories of New Orleans, 1965-1975.” My thesis focused on the women’s movement and the gay liberation movement in New Orleans, particularly through the personal experiences of four women who were leaders in the social movements of that time. My prior work experience includes summer camp counseling and working as a deputy field director in a Maryland state legislative campaign. My academic and extra-curricular experiences have helped me to develop skills in written and spoken communication, teamwork, organization, and strategic planning. I believe I have strong leadership skills and the ability to inspire and encourage others to work toward common goals even when great challenges are presented. I am looking forward to fully engaging with the Living with Purpose Fellowship program.
Maggie is working at Eden House, New Orleans
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was raised by two wonderful, hard-working parents. David M. Cook and Ann Maris Bernard did their best to instill proper values and morals in me and my older sister, Elizabeth Walda. I attended Walnut Hills High School where I learned the value of study and hard work, both in academics and sports. Following high school, I moved to Athens, Ohio to study at Ohio University, receiving my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a History minor in 2009. After school, I returned to Cincinnati to work and attempt to discern my calling, which led me to the Living With Purpose Fellowship and New Orleans. I am an avid sports fan, cheering on the future World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals
Forrest is working at Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans
My name is Eli Coppock, I am from Edinboro Pennsylvania, I am 23 years old and I recently graduated from Gannon University with a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Political Science. I have always had a passion for history since I was very young, when I came to Gannon after studying Art for a year at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, I decided on History as my degree. While in my freshman year at BGSU I did a nine day service learning trip to the South Bronx, where I had the opportunity of working with many community building organizations, which is where I found my second passion for community service. When I came to Gannon I continued this passion of community service by joining the Social Concerns Club and completing a semester long internship in Washington D.C. working with a non-profit organization advocating for peace across the country. I am a passionate and compassionate self-driven individual, when I start a job I like to pour my heart into what I am doing, and I like to get to know the people I am working with. I am a strong listener, if you have something to say, I will sit and listen with as open a heart and mind as I can give. I try to be open to new experiences and opportunities, and I have no problem with giving anything new a try at least once. I am not a deeply religious person, but I do have a strong sense of spirituality, throughout my year I would like to work on finding a sense of who I am in relation with God. I like to understand people and find out their story in life, while in the South Bronx I found that those have little to nothing often know more about life than those with everything. Learning is something that I find myself constantly doing and I know I will be doing this throughout the entire year; I have spent five years book learning, now it is time to do some experiential learning. After my year of service I am looking into possibly going to grad school for youth counseling and continue onto either a private practice or working with an after school program.
Eli is working at Jericho Road Housing Initiative, New Orleans
Cassie Favrot recently earned her BA in English Literature from Marist College. As an amateur linguist, language fascinates her. She has a working knowledge of Spanish and has studied both Latin and Arabic. She was born and raised in Cincinnati OH, attended college in Poughkeepsie NY, and currently resides in Westborough MA. She’s been traveling cross-country since birth and took her love of exploration to the next level with a semester spent studying abroad in Australia, which was easily the best experience of her college career. For fun she thoroughly enjoys trivia (whether it be competing at home during Jeopardy! or in the form of a pub quiz night), crime drama TV shows, Indian food, PUNdering the peculiarity of words, and snuggling with her cats. Her parents met while working as volunteers, and her older sister fell in love with New Orleans while volunteering there in the post-Katrina clean up. She looks forward to continuing her family’s tradition of community service while using her skills and talents to serve others through the Living with Purpose Fellowship.
Cassie is working at St. Thomas Community Health Clinic, New Orleans
I am originally from Bronx, NY, and I graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2011. I came to this program because I was looking for a way that I could both serve the community and discover more about myself. I am working with Volunteers in Public Schools as a volunteer coordinator for their math-tutoring program, and learning from and enjoying the experience along the way. I care deeply about social justice and trying to solve the inequalities that are present in our society, and through this program I hope to confront my own prejudices and open up opportunities for the people I am serving.
Nina is working at Volunteers in Public School, Baton Rouge.
My name is Alexandra (Allie) Kochanski. I’m 21-years-old. I have lived in Maryland my whole life. I graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s University in May 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Art. To acquire my degree I learned about many psychological principles and concepts that I have found to be helpful in my quest to understand and better relate to the people I encounter. For example, the Humanist theory taught me that every person has the potential to be great, but do not always possess the means to reach their potential. This concept motivated me to volunteer and give others the means to achieve their potential. This desire to volunteer, combined with my love for Louisiana’s culture and history, inspired me to apply to the LWP Fellowship. I have helped those in need of guidance during my internship at the Public Defender Office of Baltimore. During this experience I counseled juvenile defendants. I helped them find and prepare for a career, reunite with their families, and become autonomous. This experience showed me I can make a difference in peoples’ lives through perseverance and kindness. While helping others during the LWP Fellowship I hope to continue improving the lives of others. I would also like to gain a better sense of self and narrow my future goals.
In addition to education, my interests include snowboarding, photography, and sports. My interest in snowboarding developed while working at Ski Liberty Mountain Resort. There I worked as a lift attendant. My duties included assisting guests on and off the ski lift, maintaining the ramp, and responding to emergency situations. Another important aspect of my job was to ensure the guests were having a memorable and happy skiing experience. I used my creativity and social aptitude to entertain the guests while they safely loaded onto the ski lift.
I minored in art at Mount Saint Mary’s University because I love to capture the beauty of nature and the gift of life. I am especially drawn to photography because it allows me to capture a moment of happiness, beauty, sadness; any aspect of life, and make it last forever. Through photos I can remember wonderful parts of my life. I can travel back to the week I spent with my family in Disney World when I was 8. I can reflect on the memories I made with my friends in college while looking at the pictures we took together to commemorate our adventures. Photos also let the world connect. I can send pictures to my friends in France and receive pictures of the Arc De Triomphe in return. Humans can share experiences and cultures through visual images.
I am drawn to sports because they bring together communities, families and friends. I played soccer during my youth and it introduced me to many lifelong friends. Every effort of my team allowed us to represent our community and school with pride. Looking back, I do not recall the scores of the games; I remember sharing my love of a sport with my community and my teammates. Through sports I learned that working together as a team is more effective than working solo. With my fellow LWP members in Louisiana I hope to become a member of a team whose mission is to improve the lives of the community whose members have the potential but not the means to attain their goals.
Allie is working at Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans.
Originally from the Chicagoland area, I am a graduate of Boston University with a degree in Cultural Anthropology. Understanding community dynamics and values is a key part in service work, so my anthropology degree will be put to good use! I am interested in community revitalization, especially where it intersects with the issues of housing and hunger, including sustainability. I enjoy good food, good music, and talking to just about anyone! I look forward to finding my own community in Louisiana.
Collen is working at Jericho Road Housing Initiative, New Orleans.
My name is Courtney and I am 23 years old. I graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 with a B.A. in History with a focus in European History. I am originally from Georgia and moved to Maryland when I was 10. I transferred to ASU my sophomore year of college after playing soccer at a D2 school in NC and at a community college in Maryland. I worked as a camp counselor for several summers in Maryland, where I got to work on a ropes course. In college I volunteered for Young Life, where I led a middle school ministry in a local school. While living in Arizona, I have enjoyed being involved with different advocacy groups such as Streetlight PHX, Maggie’s Place, and house building mission trips in Mexico. I enjoy traveling and I am excited to move to Louisiana, even though my first time in the state was when I drove through a few months ago when I moved to Raleigh, NC for the summer. I enjoy being outdoors and being active, playing soccer as well running races like 5ks and half marathons are some of my favorite ways to be active. I also enjoy hiking and rock climbing, and pretty much anything that challenges me and allows me to be outside. I enjoy listening to music, especially live music and I am a die-hard Jeopardy fan. I am excited to experience the culture that Louisiana has to offer, but to also find ways to serve this distinctive community. I am also looking forward to meeting people from all over the country as we find a way to blend into a unique community.
Courtney is working at O’Brien House, Baton Rouge
Hi! I’m Lauren Sepe. I apologize for the mysterious picture of me in sunglasses, BUT in the background you can see the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon Coast! Aloha, Oregon (a suburb of Portland) is what I call home. However, this past year I have been living in New York City as a Rhinelander Volunteer through the Episcopal Service Corps. It has been a very interesting year and I am excited for new adventures in a second year through ESC in Louisiana!
Lauren is working at Trinity Loaves and Fishes, New Orleans.
My name is Ashley Yohman. I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for my undergraduate career. I graduated in May with a B.S.B.A in Business Management and minor in Religious Studies. I realized in high school that what I love the most is helping people. I love listening and hearing people’s stories and I believe that behind each person one comes in contact with is a lesson to be learned.
When I am working I expect no less than my best, but I also believe in a work-life balance. For fun, I enjoy sports and staying active. I have a deep appreciation for music and I love playing games, especially Catch Phrase! If I had to choose three words to describe myself it would be organized, outgoing, and faithful.
Ashely is working at Kids’ Orchestra, Baton Rouge