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Santa Clara's Tapestry of Excellence:
Compassion Begins at Home
SCU senior Shanna Doucette has always considered herself a compassionate personone "driven to help others, and to serve," she says.
As part of the DISCOVER Projects Ministry Internship Program, Shanna spent her summer shadowing doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers at Milwaukees Positive Health Clinic at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, which specializes in HIV/AIDS treatment.
"Since high school I had looked beyond Milwaukee to do service," says the Wisconsin native. "So often I found myself looking for opportunities abroad to do my part in changing the world. I realized that I didnt need to go to an impoverished country to feel like I could help a community, I merely needed to open my eyes when I was at home. My pattern of going someplace extravagant to serve now seemed naive, an incomplete view of the idea of service," she explains. "There was no need to go any farther than my hometown to find people that desperately needed help."
While Shanna says the medical knowledge she gained during her internship was important, "The social knowledge I gained had an even greater impact on me," she says. "A keyand difficultrealization for me was seeing how textbook descriptions that used to be so abstract and distant from me were manifested in the people in front of me in the clinic."
Previous service trips gave Shanna a sense of "accomplishment as well as the fulfillment of a duty," she says. "I realize now that this is the most selfish, ill-construed way to view service. My call to service is not fulfilled in a week-long trip. And it should not be forgotten, or even viewed as fulfilled, upon my return home."
Shanna says she realized that, for her, service was "a call for a lifetime." So, despite being a senior psychology major who hadnt taken many science courses, she decided upon returning to SCU to revamp her class load and start on a pre-med trackeven though it will require an extra year of undergraduate coursework.
"I am no longer trying to excel for the sake of achieving. I am striving to excel because it is a necessary step toward me becoming a doctor."
Shanna now has "a call to serve these people, in my own hometown, in our highly developed country, in my own backyard," she says. "This wasnt a duty, or an obligation to serve. I felt it was a calling, and I interpreted it as a vocation."