Athletic Media Relations Student Assistant
June 4, 2002
As a freshman, Kathleen Celio entered Santa Clara University with many opportunities at her fingertips. She was undeclared at the time and was not sure what life held in store for her. She knew she was here to get an education and play soccer. After receiving top-notch schooling, double majoring in Finance and English, Celio was awarded a $5,000 postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA for her outstanding achievements both academically and athletically. Before she was to further her education, however, Celio decided to take a year off and volunteer for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
"Throughout my life I have been blessed with tremendous opportunity and gifts," Celio said. "Around the beginning of my fourth year at Santa Clara, I began to realize that though I loved to play soccer, I did not see myself wanting to play after college. Until that time, I had put so much energy and time into soccer that I never had the time to discover other passions and interests. Once I started understanding what I wanted to do in life, I figured that it had to do with using my gifts to serve others in some capacity. I always wanted to go to law school and soon I realized that through a law degree I could make a living helping the underrepresented sectors of our society. Once I found out that I could defer law school for a year to volunteer, I had no doubt that this is what I wanted to do. I figured that there would be no better time in my life to try this experience and that it would give me a different way of seeing the world and my life, and ultimately shape what I wanted to study specifically in law school."
Thus, Celio embarked on a journey that was sure to leave an impression in her life. She moved to the north side of Chicago where she resides with five other volunteers. They stress four values that they choose to abide by for the year: community, simple living, spirituality, and social justice. Each month, Celio lives off a stipend that she receives through her agency. Most of the funds the group receives go toward community projects. Her volunteer work has been at the Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Women (CLAIM).
"My job has two main duties," Celio explained. "I am in charge of coordinating a volunteer program, which involves getting volunteer lawyers, paralegals, and law students to go into Cook County Jail on Saturdays from 12-2 to teach the women about criminal court procedure. I also serve as a paralegal/legal intern, as I go into Cook County Jail and all three state prisons and conduct child custody interviews. Through my experience of serving women in prison I witness most of the major social issues that plague our country.
"The Jesuit Volunteer Corps changes my life each day, as I come to know a little bit more about who I am and who I want to be for our society. It has challenged me to experience a different way of living and seeing the world. We say that after a year in JVC we are 'ruined for life,' and I definitely know that is and will continue to be true."
After Celio completes her year with the JVC, she will use her scholarship to attend the prestigious Law School at Boston College. Not only was it her first-choice school, but Boston College also upholds similar values of justice and service, which Celio holds close to her heart.
Once she begins her classes in the fall at Boston College, Celio will face the same old question of, what to do after graduation?
"I do not know exactly what type of law I want to practice, but I know that it will be in the public sector where I can represent the disregarded section of society. I do know that I do not want to practice family law. I am interested in international law, especially human rights, prison issues, and poverty issues. Where these interests will lead me in the future, I really do not know."
On a questionnaire given to the athletes their freshman season, Celio responded that her craziest ambition was to be a Supreme Court judge.
"Constitutional Law was what got me passionate about pursuing a law degree in the first place and thus, I do not rule that one out. It probably will not happen, but I still think it is one of the greatest and challenging jobs that exits."
Whatever path Celio chooses after graduate school you can be sure of one thing, she will follow her heart.