Jerilyn Manzella (2012)
- Denver, Colorado
- Master of Science in Education - Middle and High School Social Studies Education
- Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVV)
I decided to go to college at Niagara University for two very specific reasons: One, it was far enough away from home where I felt independent and yet close enough to home if I was ever experiencing homesickness. Two, I had decided that education was a path I wanted to take and Niagara provided a strong program in education that would allow me into a classroom my freshman year of college.
I spent four years at Niagara (August 2008 to May 2012) and enjoyed them tremendously. Niagara's campus was small enough where I felt I knew my classmates as well as professors on a personal level. It is also in a beautiful location and not a far drive away from Lewiston, N.Y.
Niagara made you feel that you mattered, that your success was the only thing that truly mattered. Even two years after graduating, I know that I can still seek the help and support from the Niagara family halfway across the country. I was blessed to be part of two incredible departments that helped and supported me during my years at Niagara University. I am still in contact with some of my professors and often seek their help and support.
My strongest memories of Niagara University are the friendships I made during my four years. Many of my classmates live all over the country and it has been a pleasure traveling around and seeing all that they have achieved. I have Niagara to thank for some of the most meaningful friendships in my life.
Currently, I am living in Denver, Colo., participating in a yearlong service program called the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. CVV is a postgraduate service program that takes 20 youths and has them serve in different nonprofits around the Denver area. Throughout the year, we live in intentional community (living, cooking, reflecting together, etc.), participate in other service work across the city, and discuss social justice issues.
Some of the worksites the program offers are homeless shelters, shelters for abandoned youth, preschools for students with developmental disabilities, food pantries, homeless healthcare facilities, and Catholic schools.
I have been blessed and given the opportunity to work at Annunciation Catholic School. It is a K-8 Expeditionary Learning Catholic School in the heart of Denver with a mission to teach its students to serve, learn and love like Jesus did. The students at this school have captured my heart and truly helped in the decision to become a teacher.
As my year of service comes to a close, I couldn't be happier with my decision. I encourage many students who are leaving college or already a year out of college to take a year from the corporate world and serve in our community. Traveling to Denver was the furthest I have ever been from my friends and family in Lake View, N.Y., but I wouldn't change the experience for anything. A year of service gives you new insight to the world around you, a chance to see the world, new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
In the future, I will be staying in Denver and working as the new technology teacher at Annunciation Catholic School. Although it is not social studies, I am looking forward to teaching at this school and taking a new spin on technology. We have recently become a one-to-one school and our goal is to take core subjects and have them work simultaneously with our technology classes.