By Kelly J. DeSisto at Emmanuel College

Chelsea Pingree, an Emmanuel College graduate, has done what many students believe to be the unthinkable. Thanks to her enthusiasm for the community, Chelsea has managed to find a job and advocate for humanity all at the same time.

From job applications to finding the right masters program, expected graduates are focused solely on how they will find a job, pay off their loans, and avoid living on the streets. Now a days graduates could even start working while still moving towards a masters in anything from engineering to a masters of science in nursing online at the same time. For charity to be on a graduating student’s mind is hard to come by.

To delay entering the “real world,” Chelsea’s initial plan was to get a Master’s degree in mathematical finance at Boston University. Lacking the drive for these topics, however, left Chelsea even farther from where she wanted to be.

“Graduate school can be miserable if you aren’t passionate about what you’re studying and I found out that I was not at all passionate about mathematical finance.  I finished the semester and left.”

Prior to leaving BU, Chelsea had already started looking for a job.  “I was really lucky that the publishing company I had interned with in 2008 was hiring” said Chelsea.

She had what every recent college grad wanted – a job. But was that the end of Chelsea’s adjustment into the real world? With a strong faith in Christianity and a need to advocate for victims of injustice, Chelsea identified with more than her newfound means of income.

Community of Sant 'Egidio

Photo Credit: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizaion

Chelsea had redefined the typical graduate’s self-fulfilling goals. Not through her job, but through her selfless work with the community.

For three years, Chelsea has continued to volunteer with “School of Peace” – a program through a Christian-based organization called the Community of Sant’ Egidio that helps underprivileged children with academic and social struggles.

But why does she do it? Isn’t a full time job enough for a recent college grad?

Not for Chelsea. During her senior year at Emmanuel, Chelsea had wanted to create a service-based internship to accompany her Catholic Studies major. After asking around, she finally found two volunteer opportunities; one of them being “School of Peace”. She volunteered every Saturday for the first semester of her senior year and, “come second semester I knew I couldn’t leave the kids I work with at ‘School of Peace’ and I have been there ever since.”

If that’s not enough, Chelsea also participates in other Sant’ Egidio Community outings such as visiting elderly friends at a nursing home in Cambridge and gathering for prayer and reflection with others who advocate for humanity. She reflects on her experience with the community and says, “I have made many wonderful friends who have turned out to be some of the most kind, generous, and genuine people I know.”

The everyday college graduate has trouble imagining his or her free time consumed by working towards the greater good of society. For Chelsea, however, helping those in need had some benefits.  “Working with the kids at ‘School of Peace’ gave me a lot of confidence.  For a long time I had considered myself to be kind of a shy person, but shyness doesn’t really fly at the School of Peace.  In my first year I realized how easy it could be to start a friendship.”

For Chelsea, community service has become more than a hobby. Looking towards the future, she also plans on going back to graduate school for theology, a forte for this Emmanuel alum.

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