We are delighted to announce the three finalists for this year’s San Damiano Servant Leadership Award. This award recognizes a faith filled college junior or senior who has a demonstrated passion for and dedication to service, social justice, and leadership.

The winner of the San Damiano Servant Leadership Award will receive a $500 scholarship and be flown to Washington, DC in May to receive this award at the annual World Care Benefit and Celebration. In addition, while in DC, the recipient will meet with service organizations in his or her specific area of interest.

We were very impressed by all of the applicants this year. The following finalists were chosen based on the depth of their experiences as well as their dedication to service and commitment to personal and communal faith life.

Mary Grace Donahoe

Mary Grace Donahoe, a senior Political Science and International Relations major at Stonehill College, has immersed herself in service. “I believe that the real substance of my faith is shown in how I integrate my faith and Catholic Social Teaching into every aspect of my life including my work, school, extracurricular activities, and relationships,” said Mary Grace.

Mary Grace has worked as an International Water Campaign Organizer with Corporate Accountability International and participated in Stonehill’s HOPE program in Nicaragua. In New York CIty, she assisted low-income mothers in finding affordable housing and other necessities. H multiple leadership responsibilities–such as her role as an Executive Board Member and lead Cantor in the Stonehill Chapel Choir–all speak to Mary Grace’s character as a young woman dedicated to her faith and to serving the global community. Her Campus Minister praised Mary Grace’s optimism and activism, saying,“[She] exudes hope in the face of much adversity.  I believe her faith gives her the strength to work for justice even in the most dire of situations.”

Valeria Garcia

A junior Speech Communication major at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, Valeria Garcia was described by a peer as having “a fire inside of her that burns for making this world a better place for everyone.” That fire is evident in Valeria’s actions and the various service experiences she has led, such as  participating in an international service immersion trip to Ecuador, serving within the Marianist Leadership Program, and leading as the Hispanic Ministry Service Chair. Valeria was also part of an 8-week summer program in San Antonio where she, along with her team, organized and executed a summer program for approximately 45 children who needed a safe place to stay for the summer.

“I trust that each one of us in this world has the power to make a change, big or small,” Valeria affirms. “I have complete trust that in each human face, you can also find Christ’s face. Through my faith journey, I have witnessed the power of faith and the power of relationships.”.

Kathleen English

Kathleen English is a junior at John Carroll University majoring in both Sociology as well as Peace, Justice, Human Rights. “When I serve and work for justice,” Kathleen said, “my faith and prayer become action.” That action is what makes Kathleen stand out. Through consistent service with the Carroll Baller Program, she has brought food, basketball, and games to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center, mentoring and working with the young women in residency there. Acting as team leader for her university’s service immersion trip to Honduras and teaching students in Cleveland about social justice through the Youth Justice Program–these are just a couple examples of her servant leadership. When asked to describe the candidate’s passion for service, Kathleen’s  campus minister said that she, “has a charismatic way of inspiring others to join a cause, seek personal growth, and give of themselves fully to those most in need.”