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Riordan Award Recipient Discovers Vocation Through Volunteerism


Alexis CostalesAlexis Costales ’09 learned the true meaning of service through volunteering with the Dolores Mission Community in the Boyle Heights district of East Los Angeles.

“Service has to be unique to the community in which a person serves,” Costales said. “Relationship building is the key. It makes this type of service capable of producing significant affects for both people involved. More is given and involved when relationships are formed.”

In April, Costales received a Riordan Community Service Award from the Riordan Foundation in honor of his dedication to community service. He volunteered more than 360 hours with the Dolores Mission Community.

For the past four years, Costales has served as a leader for Underwings Praxis, a student service organization that focuses on the Dolores Mission Community. Also, he has served as the site coordinator for the after-school program and the Guadalupe Homeless Project. In these roles, Costales recruited LMU students, coordinated clothing and supplies drive for the homeless project, and mentored children at the Dolores Mission. It was his experience with the students that affected him most and led him to his vocation.

“The overall experience has contributed to the promise of a lifelong advocacy for social justice and cultivated a prospect for teaching. I realized that justice could be my vocation and I could focus on the inequities in the education system,” Costales said.

This spring, Costales was accepted into LMU’s Place Corps, a program that allows students to earn a master’s degree and teaching credentials while teaching full-time in under-resourced Catholic schools of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Costales will teach seventh-grade students at Transfiguration School in South Central Los Angeles.

“I gained admittance into the Place Corps Teaching Program in large part due to the heartfelt experiences of the past four years in the Dolores Mission Community,” Costales said. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve.”

Each year, six LMU undergraduate students are awarded a Riordan Community Service Award for their outstanding contributions in community service. The Riordan Foundation was established by Richard J. Riordan, a former Los Angeles mayor and one-time California secretary for education. Its mission is to help provide all students, especially those in low-income communities, with access to a high-quality education.