A CUA Education Leads to Role as Educator
When Emily Lazor (B.A. 2011) attended one of Catholic University’s open houses for prospective students in 2006, she remembers listening to Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., then-chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, talk about the University’s homeless outreach program.
Father Bob explained that the program started after students began taking extra food from the dining hall to distribute to the homeless in local D.C. area parks.
“This was the first time I had heard anything like this during a college open house, and it was especially the first time I had heard it as something that was important to hear in order to understand a school itself,” Lazor recalls.
What she learned at that open house was just a preview of the experience she would have at Catholic University. Lazor was involved in many activities during her four years, including volunteering at Little Sisters of the Poor, Bethlehem House, So Others Might Eat, Best Buddies, and DC Reads.
Her involvement in these activities and her academic education at CUA led her to seek a path that combined her faith with a program that would create structural change in society. She found that path when one of her teachers, William Mattison, associate professor of moral theology, told her about the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Service through Teaching Program at the University of Notre Dame.
The two-year program places students in schools throughout the country as teachers. They return to Notre Dame’s campus for summer instruction. Students are involved in rigorous education coursework and development focused on community involvement and spirituality. Those who complete the program earn a master’s in education.
Lazor enrolled in the program and headed to Jackson, Miss., to teach high school theology and Spanish at St. Joseph Catholic School.
“The students and their families were so loving and I learned so much about hospitality and community by living and working there for two years,” she explains. “I also grew to just love teaching and finding ways to get students excited about the pursuit of knowledge.”
Lazor thanks CUA for helping her take those first steps toward the ACE program.
“CUA prepared me to be a Catholic educator by providing a worldview to understand and a language to describe Christ's mission in the world, and what that means for how the Church and world interact,” she says. “CUA helped me to see the importance of being a dynamic Catholic — someone who knows and loves the faith, but has a desire to seek and understand all the beauty that the world has to offer. I tried my best to translate this into the classroom by helping students explore what is true while they are still being challenged by some of the tensions that exist in the world today.”
Lazor graduated from the program in July 2013. She was voted as commencement speaker by more than 80 classmates, an honor she describes as “humbling.”
Although she hopes to return to the classroom in a few years, Lazor is now giving back to ACE by working as an assistant director for the program. She provides pastoral support for ACE teachers in the southeast United States, builds relationships between ACE and the dioceses the program serves, and recruits new teachers. She notes that she hopes to recruit students from her alma mater.
“While CUA provides great academic formation in the classroom and through experiences in Washington, D.C., it's most special because of its vibrant community,” she explains.
“CUA students care deeply about so many things, and as an undergraduate student I grew so much because of the people I was able to spend time with during my four years there.”
Degree: B.A. in theology and religious studies with minors in philosophy, Latino and Latin American studies, and Spanish
Favorite classes at CUA: Religion in Literature and the Political Transformation of Modern and Contemporary Latin America
Favorite event as a student: CUA Mission Jamaica in Above Rocks, Jamaica
Favorite part about teaching: “Seeing and hearing students make connections between the world and academics, especially when it comes to philosophy and theology.”
Favorite spot on campus: Caldwell Chapel