Each year, we welcome recent college graduates to work with us through our Border Fellows program. This 10-month leadership development program offers these graduates an opportunity to serve and learn as they transition out of college and prepare for their future calling. They work alongside our team while serving the community to deepen their understanding of service, justice, and reconciliation. Hear from two fellows who are in the middle of their time with us and what they’re learning along the way.
From College to Calling
“I have learned so much about working in a nonprofit environment and what it means to integrate my faith in Christ into my vocation,” said Sophie Wozniak. She’s currently serving as the administrative assistant in the Ciudad Nueva back office, and volunteers with the high school program, mentoring students through the ups and downs of their high school years.
Sophie acknowledges that adjusting to the transition out of college isn’t easy. She joined the Border Fellows program after graduating from George Mason University in May 2019. She’s learning what it means to juggle work, her volunteer schedule, and classes while making time for intentional relationships here in El Paso. It’s a common struggle for postgrads, and being a part of the Border Fellows program enables her to find support and encouragement along the way.
“With the help of my coworkers, the Border Fellows leadership, mentors at the church, and from the students I work with, I have gained a deeper appreciation for God’s presence in all things and in all interactions with the world around us,” she shared.
Sophie has a heart for helping communities, and attending the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference in Dallas last October gave her a chance to hear from other organizations on topics around bridging faith and community building. “I loved getting to know my coworkers better and being encouraged by the stories of other nonprofits in the country doing similar work to what we are currently doing in El Paso,” she said of her time at the conference. “It was an awesome opportunity to visualize how I am a small part of a greater work.”
The Power of Community Connections
“I’m excited to be living and working among a community of Christians focused on bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth and loving each other and the community intentionally and persistently,” said Jennifer Foliaco, a Border Fellow and graduate of the University of Virginia. Originally from Midlothian, VA, Jennifer experienced culture shock during her first few weeks with the program, but has since fallen in love with El Paso and its people.
“I’ve enjoyed being a witness to God’s creation in the Southwest,” she shared. “I love living in a city with a mountain range; being outdoors in cold weather months; and hiking, rock climbing, and exploring.”
She also loves the local food, and most importantly, the people. “I’ve been honored to mentor amazing kids at LaunchPad,” said Jennifer. “They teach me so much about patience, love, Spanish language, Mexican-American border culture. I love spending time with them, sharing my life with them, and talking to them about how to navigate friendships and conflict and growing up while seeking the Lord and pursuing a personal relationship with our Creator.”
One of her favorite memories was coaching Upward soccer, where she had a chance to meet and bond with the LaunchPad youth. “It built trust, and we had a lot of fun,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer also works with our Abara team. She shares a love for the mission of Abara and building relationships with the community while serving. “I’m learning a lot on the job, and it’s been humbling to see God work through Abara. I’ve been very blessed by St. Clement’s and the community and discipleship they’ve provided me with,” she said.
Both Jennifer and Sophie have embraced the mission of Ciudad Nueva, diving in to apply their gifts and talents to their roles and the communities they’re serving. As they finish out the second half of the Border Fellows experience, we look forward to seeing how God grows and prepares these women for the next step in their callings.
Ciudad Nueva is a community-based nonprofit that exists to advance the renewal and development of central El Paso’s Rio Grande neighborhood through the empowerment and transformation of its residents. Please join us this year! Call us today at 915-521-2951 or contact us online.