By Kulsum Musani Staff Writer
Faculty, staff and students in the Scholars Program gathered on Friday, Dec. 2 to meet with distinguished individuals and learn about serving local and global communities.
According to Scholars Program Director Dr. Susan Mikula, in addition to allowing scholars meet with one another, the purpose of the meet and greet was to “engage with people who have taken lessons from Benedictine University and done something with the world.”
Natalie Bayci, Joehar Hamdan, M.D. and Maggie Augustyn, DDS were among the speakers at the event.
Bayci, diocesan coordinator for university missions, emphasized the importance of serving those less fortunate, beginning with charity at home. “Helping the poor here better prepares you for helping the poor in third world countries,” she said.
She recently went on a mission trip to Naivasha, Kenya, an area with two paved roads and 400,000 people. In Naivasha, she, along with the rest of the group provided medical care to 326 people within two days. Bayci has also taken students on trips to poverty-ridden communities in Bolivia and the Philippines.
Values from the Benedictine tradition were also displayed with Augustyn and Hamdan, two other speakers who are also alumni of BenU.
“[Augustyn and Hamdan] represent what we hope you will become after you graduate,” enthused Mikula.
Hamdan, who currently works as a physician, went on a mission trip to Bolivia during his time at BenU, stating that “it doesn’t matter what faith you are; the common interest is of help to others.” He emphasized that intention is the main factor to keep in mind before helping others.
“When you’re doing something good for people, it is rewarding, but make sure that your intention is clear why your helping these people- are you helping them to make yourself feel good or please a higher power?” stated Hamdan.
The third speaker at the event was Augustyn, who graduated from BenU in 1999 as a member of the Scholars class.
As a dentist, she has done significant work in her field to help those in need, crediting Mikula as her source of inspiration. “For the first time, someone introduced me and showed me that there could be a different life than the type I wanted. It didn’t occur to me that there were people who didn’t have textbooks or go to school,” Augustyn added.
This drive to help others motivated her to serve in La Paz, Mexico and open up her dental clinic on a Saturday to provide free dental service worth $25,000.
Students who attended the event found themselves inspired.
Sophomore James Moffitt stated, “The event was inspiring. It really opened my eyes that this school does produce some amazing alumni and motivated me to come back and tell students in the future how I changed the world for the better.”
Moffitt continued, “The scholars program isn’t just the monetary incentive or the name on grad school applications, but rather a privilege to achieve great things.”