Abby Michels '15 and Tidiany Diarra '15

Lasallian Volunteer service stories inspire campus

On a personal journey to find their true calling in the world, Abby Michels ’15 and Tidiany Diarra ’15 made the decision to serve as Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) after graduating from Lewis University.

The Lasallian Volunteer program is a professional development and vocational opportunity for graduates who are interested in living out the Lasallian mission.  Volunteers choose to dedicate one or two years of their life to give back and live in community alongside De La Salle Christian Brothers and other volunteers.

“This experience is perfect for graduates who want to obtain experience in their field to jumpstart their career or just take a year to give back to your community,” said Lasallian Volunteer Scholar Sonya Lee.  “Based on your personal interests, you are placed in sites like New York, California, or Philadelphia as a teacher, counselor, coordinator, or one of many other roles.”

An integral part of inspiring others to carry out the Lasallian mission and join a program like Lasallian Volunteers is by sharing stories. So, on February 22 through 24, these two dedicated alumni traveled back to campus to visit classrooms and share stories about their unique service experiences.

Both graduated from Lewis University with bachelor’s degrees, Abby’s in Elementary/Special Education and Tidiany’s in Sports Management. As students, Abby and Tidiany both refereed for Student Recreation and Fitness Center Intramural Sports and were highly involved on campus.

Upon joining the LV Program, Abby began serving as a 7th grade co-teacher and Adult Volunteer Coordinator for De La Salle Academy in Concord, CA. Tidiany began service as a Recreational Coordinator for La Salle School in Albany, NY. Both individuals partake in daily prayer, as well as community dinners and mass. Both Abby and Tidiany are very involved in their communities, creating positive atmospheres and learning experiences for the individuals they serve. They both agree that it does not feel like work, because they love what they do every day. Having attended a Lasallian high school, Tidiany is familiar with the Lasallian mission.

“Lewis provides several opportunities for students to live out the mission,” said Tidiany. Although he didn’t regularly participate in the programs or retreats that Lewis offered, he could see how they drastically transformed his peers on campus.  “Seeing that transformation and talking with my good friend Trey about his LV experience inspired me to join the program and give back to a community,” he added.  

Abby, on the other hand, was not as familiar with the Lasallian mission.  Her participation in campus ministry through Koinonia, LUMINATE, and other service trips had led her down a pathway to seek knowledge of what that virtue holds true to. Not quite ready to jump into the real world, Abby took advantage of this opportunity to serve in a different state, be on her own, and network with a diverse group of individuals.

“They say college is the best four years of your life, but this has definitely surpassed it,” said Abby. “The LV Program really puts your life into perspective on who are and what you believe. Being in an environment where you are not the most comfortable or are doing things you have not done or experienced before is a very exciting and humbling opportunity.”

The most important part about these classroom visits was to get a real person standing in front of these students to inform them about this opportunity after graduation and encourage them to take advantage of it. “Many students do not even know that the chance to travel to a different state and give back to a new community after graduation exists, so we really want to get that message out there and create awareness,” said Sonya.

They are using the LV experience to give back to the community, but also to find out where they truly belong in life. “I would encourage anyone to give the Lasallian Volunteers Program a try,” said Abby. “Life is an adventure, so get your feet wet and try something new because it might just help you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.”

Tidiany, previously worried about what to do after graduation, now reflects on the path he has chosen as a LV. “If I can tell those who are considering becoming a LV one thing, it would be to take everything one day at time and let everything fall into place,” says Tidiany. He wishes to reassure those individuals that “whatever God has planned for you is going to happen.”

Lewis University brought back these two devoted alumni to share stories about their life-altering service experiences with other students on campus. Their enthusiastic attitudes and dedicated actions have inspired others to begin the same personal journey that they chose to take as a Lasallian Volunteer.


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