Now a post-grad volunteer through the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, Jesse Koch ’18 is living in Silver Spring, Md., where he works on various ministries through Saint Camillus Parish. He volunteers for Meals on Wheels, teaches Sunday school to children preparing for their first Communion, participates in prison visitations, and conducts “peace circles” for the homeless population in D.C. shelters and local elementary school children.
Originally from the Bronx, N.Y., Jesse has always wanted to give back to his local community. He attended Iona Preparatory School where he was exposed to the vocation of the Christian Brothers and the lifetime work of Blessed Edmund Rice. Jesse knew that he wanted to remain local for college and felt a sense of home and familiarity when he visited Iona College. While attending the College, Jesse “was introduced to mission work through the Office of Mission and Ministry and realized that there was a great need for mental healthcare in the world.”
He first attended a mission trip to Ireland his sophomore year, where he found his passion for helping the prison and homeless populations. Jesse attended the Mississippi mission trip his junior year and was fortunate enough to lead it his senior year. He also led and directed the Kairos retreats during his junior and senior years, where he helped teach other students about themselves and the presence of God in their everyday lives.
“My experiences with the Office of Mission and Ministry supported, and gave me the opportunity to practice, all of what I was learning in the classroom during my Psychology, and Peace and Justice classes,” says Jesse. Now currently halfway through a post-grad volunteer year, Jesse is discerning between continuing for a second volunteer year or returning home to work and attend graduate school. Jesse says, “I plan and hope to continue to work with the homeless or prison populations, and eventually get my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.”
Jesse encourages students to not “be afraid to follow your gut, and always ask questions.” He added, “The people I was surrounded by [at Iona] made the experience a life-changing one. The people at Iona are truly one of a kind and I will always be thankful for how inspiring and full of life everyone is.”