“I felt like this was a place where people wanted me to be,” said senior Grace Riordan, describing The Catholic University of America.
The French and sociology double major from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, immediately felt at home when she visited the University after being accepted into the Honors Program. “It felt like a place where I could really deepen relationships and get to know people, and I didn't feel like I was just another number,” she said.
Throughout her four years, Riordan has returned the welcome she received to students following in her footsteps.
“I really enjoy building relationships with people and accompanying them, and I feel like that is a vocation, a calling for me, right now in my life,” said Riordan.
Since her first year, Riordan has constructed deep relationships through her dedicated service work, particularly her involvement and leadership in the Cardinal Service Corps, a group of students that lead weekly service sites and seasonal events for the Brookland community.
During her junior year, Riordan led students in the Cardinal Service Corps to the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., which serves men facing homelessness or food insecurity. She said there was one man she frequently chatted with who particularly influenced her.
Riordan was touched by the man’s vulnerability and how he treated her as a friend instead of a stranger.
“The service is our relationship,” said Riordan. “That's how we share our love. It's how I communicate my love for God, being able to have really beautiful relationships with other people.”
Riordan also works as event coordinator for the Center for Cultural Engagement and is a student mentor to first-generation college first-year students through the Take Flight program, in addition to tutoring French.
For Riordan, her path toward service coincides with her faith journey as a Catholic.
“Community service for me really speaks to the importance of the life and dignity of the person,” she said.
Last fall, Riordan and other students partnered with the corps to form the social justice education committee, a group that encourages social justice dialogue among students.
“We brought together students from different organizations and we all learned together about … what representation and diversity in our universal Church means and why that's significant,” said Riordan.
Riordan’s college experience has been shaped by the many communities she has worked with.
“I've invested a lot of time in this (University),” she said. “I'm invested in doing my part to make sure that this experience is good for everyone, and to improve my own experience. …It's allowed me to define how I want to live out my faith too. None of those things would be in my life if those communities weren’t here.”