So long, McCarthy Center

Recent graduate, Priana Aquino ’22 reflects on her student experience at the McCarthy Center as a staff member and a program participant in the Public Service and Community Engagement Minor. She takes away a number of life long lessons on her next steps to law school and a move to the East Coast.  

For the last two years, I have been the Communications Assistant for the Leo T. McCarthy Center, a position that has positively shaped half of my college career. Whenever I meet any students, faculty, staff or supporters of the Center, I usually say “if you recognize my name, it’s probably because I sent you an email this last week or I am probably somewhere in your inbox.” In holding this position, I have been constantly looking ahead and focusing on future stories, events and tasks to come. So much so that when our Director of External Communications, Leslie Lombre, asked me to write a farewell blog, I realized I had not yet taken a chance to reflect on my time spent here. She recommended that I talk about a few things I have learned which I am happy to share.

Priana (right) at the Leo T. McCarthy Award Celebration.

Good work takes a lot of work

I believe that the existence of the public service initiatives led by the McCarthy Center are often taken for granted. Having been “behind the scenes” for the last few years, I have seen only a small part of the planning and execution of Center programs and know that an astounding amount of care is put into creating them. Being a part of the McCarthy Center has shown me first, that supporting student leaders is important, and that second, there are multiple facets in making this happen.

This was my first COVID-era job and like the rest of the world, I was struggling to learn what it meant to get things done without in-person meetings or to imagine when things could go back to normal.  Being a part of the Center during the pandemic illuminated how integral its mission is to fostering ethical leadership in our students, and how that work has become increasingly recognized and supported in higher education.

Priana (center) representing USF at the Biden Institute.

Good work is accomplished in different ways

Much of my job at the McCarthy Center has been dedicated to the upkeep of our social media and the creation of our newsletters. These communication efforts are often overlooked when understanding a public service organization or department. However, I have learned that there is importance in the posts that I create. The first is namely the growth in connections amongst other Centers, leading to partnerships benefitting all stakeholders.  Another aspect of this communication position has showed me how vital it is to share the work that our Center and supporters are doing in our communities. Leslie describes herself as being a storyteller, sharing the stories of the students we uplift and the community partners we strive to support. I have learned that this above all, is so important in recognizing students, leaders and co-educators in our communities.

Priana (left) with her Public Service and Community Engagement Minor cohort.

I want to continue doing this work 

This Fall, I will be starting my 1st year at Cardozo Law School in New York. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that my experience with the McCarthy Center was influential in my decision to pursue law. As a Business major at USF, I was consistently encouraged to focus on opportunities more in line with the School of Management. Despite this, I was lucky to have found opportunities through the McCarthy Center that shaped my undergraduate experience. I am proud to have been a Public Service and Community Engagement minor, an Equity Intern, and to have even represented USF at the inaugural Ithaca Initiative National Student Dialogue

I have been inspired by all of the students, staff members, and community partners that I have met through the McCarthy Center. Hearing each of their passions and reason for exploring public service has both encouraged and empowered me to integrate a part of that into my future career. While I am now in the midst of packing up my life and bracing myself to live in the Big Apple, I am unsure of what kind of law I do want to practice. However, I thank the McCarthy Center and specifically Leslie Lombre for helping me hone and realize the skills and strengths that will serve me well in my future. I will always look fondly back on my time as a part of the McCarthy Center and look forward to staying connected with the USF community.

Thank you, Priana for all of your work, energy and care that you have brought to the McCarthy Center! Congrats and we’ll look forward to hearing your stories from NYC!  — Team Leo

Equity InternsPublic Service and Community Engagementstudent leadership

Leo T. McCarthy Center • August 11, 2022

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