To ensure leadership for a future in which the pursuit of social
justice is the norm, we launched the pioneering Ozanam Scholars
Program last year. Named for Frederic Ozanam, co-founder of the St.
Vincent de Paul Society, it is a four-year academic
service-learning program designed for students with outstanding
high school academic and community service records. This dynamic
educational experience aims to combine academics with hands-on
community involvement on local, national and global levels in order
to teach students to develop resultsbased solutions to
For example, first-year Scholars meet weekly with faculty to
explore the social causes of poverty, using their
60-hour-per-semester volunteer experience as the foundation for
relevant discussion. This past year, first-year Scholars performed
additional service by traveling to New Orleans to help Katrina
victims rebuild their homes.
During the second and third years of the program, Scholars continue
their community-based work while studying appropriate research
skills to allow them to analyze social issues and propose workable
solutions. In their final year, Scholars create portfolios
documenting their learning and experience as active participants in
addressing social justice and poverty issues.
Ozanam Scholars this year expanded their scope through a two-week
trip to Paris and Rome designed to communicate the origins of the
Vincentian charism. Among the activities was a visit to the Sant’
Egidio lay service community in Rome where they saw firsthand the
work of others who dedicate themselves to lifetime service to the
poor while pursuing professional careers.
Developing a sense of community is an essential element of the
Ozanam Scholar experience. On campus, all Scholars reside on one
floor of the renovated St. Vincent Hall residence and attend
classes together. This supportive bonded peer network fosters a
dedication to lifelong service. The program’s initial success has
led the University to establish The Poverty Institute. We expect
the Institute to become the centerpiece of the University’s
evolution into a global social development research center. “By
building on the findings and reflections of the Ozanam fieldwork,”
explains Institute Executive Director Rev. James Maher, C.M., “St.
John’s will evolve into an expert resource for solution-based
approaches to eradicating global poverty on local, national and