June M"If you are not a part of the solution, then you're a part of the problem."  2018 Mount graduate June Mugo remembers reading that quote from political activist Eldridge Cleaver as she was writing a paper for a sociology class. She knew even then that she needed to be a part of the solution.  “While being at the Mount,” she reflected, “you learn a lot academically but also about yourself. One thing I learned about myself is, I want to take time out and do something that is bigger than myself, which is helping others, especially those in need.” 
 
June is putting those values into action just days after her May 2018 graduation by being chosen to serve as the Mount’s first AmeriCorps VISTA representative for a new program developed by Dr. Layton Field, assistant professor of sociology.  The new program is called CARiTAS (Community Advancement Resources in Training, Assessment, and Service).  Drawing on the Mount’s mission, Dr. Field initiated CARiTAS with a generous grant from Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic. The Latin word caritas, which may be defined as “love for humankind” is based on the Christian virtue of charity--of wanting all good things for others. 
 
June hails from Jersey City, New Jersey, and majored in sociology with a minor in psychology. Upon being selected for the position, she immediately began to establish a set of goals, one of which is to create a strong foundation for the CARiTAS program by building a strong support system with the local community and the Mount family.
 
AVistaThe CARiTAS program will put the resources of the Mount at the disposal of local organizations to help meet challenges found in rural areas around campus.  Mount CARiTAS will focus on training, assessment and service in support of the good work already being done by the Thurmont Ministerium and Emmitsburg’s Seton Center, Inc.  The AmeriCorps VISTA grant has enabled the Mount to recruit a national representative to coordinate the Mount CARiTAS program under Dr. Field’s supervision. 
 
Reflecting on her application and selection, June said, “The process of being brought into the program was well structured and exciting. It entailed a thorough application, a couple of interviews, and conferences with other VISTAS from other parts of the country. I am excited to be a part of this program and cannot wait to be a part of its evolution.  Prior to applying for the CCMA AmeriCorps position, I actually did not know much about it. So after a million questions and research, I grew a robust interest for it. As a VISTA you get the opportunity to help others and also develop great skills.”  
 
L. FieldDr. Field has proposed three objectives for the first year of the grant (which is renewable up to three years).  Working with the Seton Center and the Thurmont Ministerium, CARiTAS hopes to increase the number of student volunteers for both organizations, to develop and offer workshops to serve the needs of Seton Center clients, and to lay the foundation for a community needs assessment.   Both the Seton Center and the Thurmont Ministerium are actively engaged in serving the needs of the local community.   Dr. Field says he would like “to empower those organizations to enhance and prolong the incredible work they already do.”
 
Congratulations and thanks to June Mugo and Dr. Layton Field for bringing the mission of Mount St. Mary’s to our local community!