As his junior year at Merrimack College came to a close, Javier “Javi” Reyes, Class of 2020, sought to discover an opportunity that would allow him to apply his interests in social and environmental affairs and the Augustinian community to advance his aspirations of working within a non-profit organization. While Reyes certainly took advantage of the various resources on-campus to corroborate his vocation to work in philanthropy, as a member of the Austin Scholars program, the Interfaith Alliance Executive Board, an intern with the Campus Ministry, and a leader for the SEND retreat, he nevertheless was exposed to a diverse array of perspectives from both the Augustinian and greater communities to succeed in his future endeavors. After reaching out to his personal network among the Augustinian Friars, Reyes discovered the perfect opportunity to encompass his social, environmental, and spiritual interests within a single position as a Representative Intern for Robert Dueweke, the Head of Augustinians International. Reyes emailed Dueweke to evaluate and discuss the fit of his career interests with the nature of the position, and secured his internship with the organization shortly thereafter.
As a Representative Intern with Augustinians International, a non-profit organization within the United Nations (UN) to promote justice, peace, and dialogue regarding the social and economic issues affecting individuals across the globe, Reyes participated in official board meetings of the UN as a presence and correspondent for the Augustinians International office. Reyes details, “while I was [in my position as a Representative Intern], my role was to go to board meetings focusing on climate change and social justice, listen to the panelists of environmentalists, scientists, and representatives from other organizations and religious groups, and ask questions and report back the information I gathered. I’d write a report about the details of each meeting, and post my reflections and ideas on the Augustinians International website for other students and people to see.” Each meeting Reyes attended presented a new challenge towards approaching and understanding the issues at hand, as well as offered a profusion of perspectives to take into consideration within a report. Reyes expresses, “[the United Nations headquarters] was the perfect place to learn more about environmental change and the problems and solutions being discussed at the global level from people of all different cultures expressing their philosophies and ideas. It gave me an overview of what being a professional in this context really means.”
Reyes continues that he most values his internship experience’s ability to expose him to the different philosophies and ideas held throughout various cultures across the globe, believing that understanding differing ideas may aid in his effectiveness as a leader. He asserts that, “sometimes when you find a job or internship, you go to a place where a lot of people are from similar backgrounds as you, but there’s so much you can learn from working with people that are so different from you too. There’s just so much to learn about how other people from other cultures think and view the world.” Moving forward, Reyes plans to incorporate his appreciation for the differences in the viewpoints of others in order to improve upon himself and his ability to promote the wellbeing of others. “I found that working in groups is the best method [for what I want to do],” Reyes states, “because you learn different perspectives from others and you can better yourself and your knowledge by being corrected and enlightened by others.”
Reyes reveals that working with such a broad range of perspectives in the United Nations allowed him to recognize and apply the Merrimack Augustinian values into his internship. In relation to the Augustinian values forming the foundation of Merrimack’s academic structure, Reyes comments that, “the mission of any Augustinian organization is obviously to follow the teachings of Saint Augustine, and I think Merrimack is big on serving and assisting one another. This internship allowed me to work with an organization that presents problems and solutions for people as a form of service, so I could help others in a different way. I didn’t always have direct contact with people in need, but I was working within this organization to reach conclusions to help people in those situations, so I still was able to prioritize [Saint Augustine’s] value of service for the prosperity of others.” In understanding Saint Augustine’s works and teachings, Reyes could even approach his evaluation of the issues at hand in official board meetings with a frame of reference to consider possible solutions to proposed social and economic issues. He considered that, “there was a lot of both philosophical and theological aspects to discuss in the meetings and that drove a lot of the different perspectives. In the values and teachings [of Saint Augustine], he actually talks about social justice, service, and environmental problems that happened in his time, so I think that connects to approaching some of the problems of today as well.”
After experiencing firsthand the challenges and functions of a prominent non-profit organization, Javi Reyes feels certain he is prepared to embark upon his future career aspirations with success in his ability to approach a multitude of complex situations. As others may learn from Reyes’ experience, the best way to develop the necessary skills and confidence within a desired field often involves accepting a position that will challenge your personal growth and increase your understanding of the broader community. Your personal network presents vital value towards promoting your professional and individual success, and may just open the door to a transformative opportunity that will enhance your career.
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021