Sr. John Says: Positivity, students, and social advocacy


Photo credit/ Rachael Eyler

Paul Capoccia, Community Editor

With the spring semester over, Sr. John Southwick, IHM, assistant director of Campus Ministry, sat down with The Wood Word to discuss her feelings on positivity, Marywood students and social responsibility and advocacy.

In speaking about college students and what they face throughout their academic years, she acknowledged how hard collegiate life can be for students for personal, financial and other reasons.

“College students have so much negativity to face … it’s a challenge for young people, I think, to stay positive,” said Southwick.

She continued that though it takes work, her mother’s advice has stuck with her as a constant reminder of how to remain positive.

“I think the best way to be positive is to be grateful for what we do have,” said Southwick. “I can always hear my mother in the back of my brain saying, ‘if you want to be a happy person, be a grateful person.’”

Southwick also spoke to how important prayer is to her.

“Although prayer isn’t always exciting or positive, it still keeps me grounded. It still keeps me centered as to what the goal in my life is, which is trying to be the best person I can,” added Southwick.
In speaking about working with Marywood students, she remarked that her favorite part is when students come in as freshmen and grow into different people as seniors.

“It is an amazing thing. You watch them come in as freshmen, some of them can be shy and quiet, and you watch them walk across that stage, and they’re confident. They’re leaders,” said Southwick. “It’s an amazing transformation.”

When asked if she thinks Marywood students have become more accepting of others over the years, she said she feels widespread national hate seems to have increased, but hopes Marywood students are different.

“In general, as I look at our country, I don’t know whether people are more accepting when I see the hate, and the bigotry, and the discrimination. I hope that’s not young people in general,” said Southwick. “I don’t think that’s true of Marywood students. I hope it’s not. But I think our Marywood students are, for the most part, extremely accepting and open.”

On the topic of social advocacy, she brought up a question she had read the day before from a spiritual writer.

“A good question to ask yourself is ‘would you be able to get a letter of reference for yourself from the poor?’” said Southwick. “I was like, whoa. … it really made me stop and say wow, would I have done enough for the poor?”

She recalled Jesus’ mission in helping the poor in speaking of the importance of social advocacy and responsibility.

“He respected [those in need] maybe even more than anybody else because nobody else was paying attention to them. That’s what I want to do. I want to show people that everybody, no matter what … that you deserve the respect that every other person gets or should have,” said Southwick.

If people question how those in need, especially the poor, affect them, Southwick gave the following response.

“How could it not affect them? It’s another human being. Look that person in the eye and say to them ‘your poverty doesn’t affect me.’ I don’t know how anybody could do that,” said Southwick.

For students who do want to help others in any area of interest, Southwick offered her own personal help.

“I’m more than willing to help students find out what those organizations are and help them to [get involved],” said Southwick.

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Twitter: @PaulCapocciaTWW