Alumni Spotlights

Teresa Niedda, '84: Giving Back to the Vincentians

April 3, 2013

Teresa Niedda, '84, with Dr. Scott Fina, '80, in Rome for a meeting of the Vincentian Council.

Teresa Niedda, '84, with Dr. Scott Fina, '80, in Rome for a meeting of the Vincentian Council.

While my career path has taken various twists and turns since my college days, one thing has remained constant and that has been the influence of the Vincentian education that I received.

One influential moment occurred during my sophomore year, when I participated in the BASIC HIP program (Brothers and Sisters in Christ Helping the Indigent Poor) and went to Paw Paw, Mich., to work with migrant farmworkers. It was the first time I had contact with the people who put food on our tables. The experience was so powerful that I knew one day I would work with farmworkers. The experience also instilled in me a deeper sense of social justice.

I graduated with a degree in psychology from NU and then immediately went on for a master's degree in child study at Tufts University in Boston. After graduate school, I came to Philadelphia, where my sister, Marge, '85, had been living after being a volunteer in the Vincentian Service Corp in Germantown. I started volunteering with El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA or the Farmworker Support Committee) and worked with Mexican migrant farmworkers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This later turned into a job with the Farmworker Health and Safety Institute, which was founded by CATA. I had no experience in this new career path and credit my liberal arts education that I received at NU for being able to learn on the job about grant writing, agricultural health and safety, and developing training curriculum for workers.

I feel like I have come full circle from first being introduced to the Vincentians at NU to now working with them at the VSO since November 2009. The focus of my work at the VSO has been with projects in Latin America or with Spanish-speaking Vincentians doing missionary work in Africa. I had a minor in Spanish at NU and am putting it to good use at the VSO.

I have a special place in my heart for the Vincentian community, whose charism and call to social justice has accompanied me along my career path. From the classes I took at Niagara University to my current work with the VSO, the Vincentians have had an impact on my life. The thought of giving back of my abilities to further their work, especially in countries around the world, is especially gratifying about our work at the VSO.