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SMC student wins spiritual service award

Jillian Barwick | Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saint Mary’s senior Emily Kieffer will spend next year teaching English as a second language in Spain, a country she fell in love with after studying there in her sophomore year.

Kieffer said she decided to pursue a year of service abroad after realizing her passion for helping others, for which she recently received the Sr. Kathleen Anne Nelligan, C.S.C. Award for Spiritual Service.

“I did not even know I had been nominated for the award,” Kieffer said. “Regina Wilson, the assistant director of Campus Ministry, had apparently nominated me for it. It was a complete surprise.”

A native of Dublin, Ohio, Kieffer said she entered Saint Mary’s with an interest in developing her faith for the good of others. She said she received the spiritual service award for her involvement in Campus Ministry and was one of five recipients.

“We were invited to a dinner a couple of week ago in honor of all of the recipients,” Kieffer said. “All the recipients, including myself, were chosen based on the service we had committed to the Saint Mary’s community.”

Kieffer said she serves as a Eucharistic minister, leads weekly Bible studies and participates in a Women’s Spirituality Group. She said she has also been a peer minister for the last two years.

“Being a member of the Women’s Spirituality Group has allowed me to get to know other students who have a strong sense of faith and are eager to learn more about being Catholic,” Kieffer said. “We talk through the struggles of being young, Catholic women and discuss how to stand firm in our faith and live it out daily.”

Kieffer said she will teach through the Council on the International Education Exchange.

“I came into Saint Mary’s thinking I’d be a bio major because I was good at science,” Kieffer said. “After studying abroad in Spain, I realized how much I loved Spanish as a language and I knew that would be my major when I returned to Saint Mary’s. I am also a secondary education minor, so teaching English to Spanish speaking students will be a perfect fit for me.”

Kieffer will be in the Andalucía region but does not know what city she will be in or what grade she will teach.

“When I was abroad, I really enjoyed teaching English to adults in Spain,” she said. “It was more of a conversation-based class rather than just learning the basics and grammar. I would love to be able to have that experience again.”

Kieffer said she looks forward to re-immersing herself in Spanish culture and speaking Spanish fluently with people around her.

“The program is for one year, but it can be renewed for a second year, so who knows if I will be in Spain longer,” Kieffer said.

Satisfied with how she will leave Saint Mary’s in May, Kieffer encourages others to study abroad, recognize their passions and follow them, she said.

“Being involved in Campus Ministry and with Women’s Spirituality really got me thinking about what I want to do with my life and how it can be useful to others in the world,” Kieffer said. “I definitely think my journey to Spain will make good use of my time, my knowledge and my faith.”