Half Time program debuts at USD
Second year students are inspired to serve through weekend retreat
When asked about his thoughts on love and charity work, Pope Francis highlighted why philanthropy is so important to to the Catholic community, carrying over into a community such as the University of San Diego.
“It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about, “ Pope Francis said.
People come to college expecting to get the most out of their experience, change lives and make a difference in some way. Biology majors expect to become doctors or scientists who aid the sick.
Engineering majors expect to create new technology to help others. Psychology majors hope to help those with mental illness and beyond. The idea of helping people can be found in all majors really. However, amidst the challenging schoolwork, long classes and endless need for sleep, students lose touch with their hunger to help others and live up to the university’s standards of being a changemaker.
During intersession of this year, from Jan. 21 through Jan. 23, University Ministry teamed up with USD Career Services to create a program dedicated to sophomores called Half Time. The first program of its kind, University Ministry’s Assistant Vice President and Director, Michael Lovette-Coyler, recruited 29 sophomores to pilot a program designed to allow for reflection of the past two years of college and plan for the next two years ahead.
Opening the retreat, Lovette-Coyler believed that community service as well as reflection would allow sophomores to get the most out of this experience.
“We must focus inward on ourselves, but also open ourselves outward to the world,” Lovette-Coyler said.
He said that the University Ministry has always been committed to providing programs for first year students to acclimate them to college life as well as seniors in helping them to transition to the real world, however there had never been a program focusing on the awkward time between the two that some sophomores experience. The name of the program, Half Time, came from the same program that Boston College has hosted, also titled Half Time.
Each day had a specific purpose that would lead to self-growth for the participants. The first day was dedicated to introductions and reflecting on the past two years at school and memories that helped to shape who the participants were today. After watching the inspirational Robin Williams’ movie, “Patch Adams”, participants were sent off for the night to get some rest.
The next day was devoted to service out in the Linda Vista community. A common talking point was the fact that USD is almost like a bubble. Many students on campus forget that although they go to a wealthy school, there is a low-income community that surrounds us and needs our help. Working closely with the Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action (CASA), Lovette-Coyler organized for students to volunteer at the community garden at Montgomery Middle School and work with the children at the Southwest Keys facility, who are unaccompanied immigrant children who have crossed the border without family.
Associate University Minister, Maria Gaughan, who works closely with CASA, holds service and social justice close to her heart.
“That day gave them [the students] the ability to not just talk about things, but really experience things hands-on,” Gaughan said.
She also explained the Turn Left Campaign that CASA is working to introduce to the USD population. It encourages students to try and turn left on Linda Vista and explore an area that may seem polar opposite to the community that they would find in the shopping center with Urbane and Starbucks.
The last day was committed to the planning of the sophomores’ next two years at USD, and potentially the rest of their lives. Career Services held a seminar for the students, analyzed their personality types, describing job options associated with those types, and explained services offered to students to get involved and prepared for job opportunities.
Lovette-Coyler commended Career Service’s efforts to be more active in freshmen and sophomores’ lives.
“Career Services has been revising how they do their work and how they engage first year and second year students,Lovette-Coyler said. “They’re trying to work with people earlier rather than seniors.”
Overall, the program was widely received by its participants and the students felt that they benefited from all it had to offer.
Sophomore Jason Peugh saw the program as a time to reflect, check in with himself and reevaluate the purpose he has here at USD.
“It was a great point of re-evaluation, Peugh said. Just a moment to double check that you’re heading in the direction that you want to be and opportunities for change if you’re not satisfied with what you find.”
Sophomore Meaghan O’Connor had an equally positive experience and enjoyed receiving advice from people who are dedicated to USD and its students.
“It was awesome to learn how we can combine the needs of the community with our passions to pursue a career that is both fulfilling for us and beneficial to others,” O’Connor said.
While Lovette-Coyler believes the program was extremely successful, he already has goals for what the program could bring to sophomores next year.
“We want to continue and build on it, advertise it better, spread the word more and tweak the program so it’s richer,” Lovette-Coyler said.
As Boston College’s Half Time mission statement explains, “ [Halftime] is a chance to step away from campus to reflect on where you have been…where you are…and where you are going.”
Lovette-Coyler was able to fulfill this and more for the sophomores that participated and plans on reaching out to even more students this semester.