When Mackenzie Irvin ’15 meets her students at Dolores Mission School (DMS) in Los Angeles, Calif., bright and early each weekday morning, she is greeted with an enthusiastic and joyful, “Good morning, Coach Mack!” It is one of the highlights of her day. These are children “who genuinely enjoy going to school and have a love for learning,” says Irvin, who teaches physical education. For many of them, DMS is “a safe haven” in a neighborhood challenged by crime and poverty. Her work at the school has taught Irvin to approach each student as an individual and to use all of the resources available to her to help that child succeed.
Irvin is spending a year of service in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, an organization that engages young people in vital service in communities of need. As a senior in high school, she embarked on a yearlong social justice project centered on combatting gun violence in schools. When she studied abroad in Berlin, Germany, during her junior year at Le Moyne, she was once again reminded how big the world and its problems are and how she has the ability to help, even on a small scale. That is when she found herself looking into a year of service.
“I was drawn to JVC in particular from my Jesuit education at Le Moyne,” she said. “After talking to former Jesuit volunteers, I felt that it was the natural progression for what I have immersed myself in during the four years of undergrad at Le Moyne College.”
Irvin said that she finds herself calling on the lessons she learned at Le Moyne every day. That includes recalling her days as a soccer player at Le Moyne and being able to empathize with an eighth-grader who goes from school to basketball practice to high school prep, and using the phrase "be a person for and with others" with her third-graders and embodying the Jesuit ideals.
“Lessons taught at Le Moyne College both inside the classroom and out are not just lessons to get you through the four years of undergrad, but are lessons to get you through life,” she said.
As for what is next, Irvin said that remains to be determined. While her time at DMS has made her realize that she has a true passion for teaching and working with children, she still loves political science, which she studied at Le Moyne.
“I guess my professional plans are wherever my heart gets set on fire next,” she said.