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Jules Fernandes ’17C

Major: Government and Politics; Physics
Hometown: Dubai, UAE
Bonding with the People We Serve

Did you engage in service before coming to St. John’s?

I was very involved in service when I was younger, both in high school and in my parish. I went to St. Mary’s High School, in Dubai. While I was there, I initiated a service-based organization called “The Solidarity Group,” which helped individuals who worked on construction sites and had limited access to basic amenities.

How did you begin engaging in service at St. John’s?

A friend introduced me to the Habitat for Humanity chapter on campus. Ever since my first ‘build’ with the group, service has been a big part of my experience at St. John’s. A lot of it has been with Habitat: we’ve held a “Shack-a-Thon,” where teams have competed to build huts and use them to raise money, and, currently, I’m our chapter president. But I’ve been involved in other activities, too—park clean-ups, Ronald McDonald House, the Midnight Run Program, and a Campus Ministry “plunge” in Denver, CO.

What would you say is the most gratifying aspect of service?

It’s humbling. For example, during my service plunge in Denver, there were moments when I sometimes felt irritated or upset by the time I was investing. But when I pulled myself back, I saw that what it really teaches is humility—you wind up bonding with the people you serve as well as the people you serve with.