Students Reflect on the Impact of Emmjolee Mendoza-Waters


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By Mariah Solis

Near the end of the spring semester, Emmjolee J. Mendoza-Waters sent a final announcement email to inform the campus community about her departure from the Office of Campus Ministry as Director of Community Engagement, Social Justice and Catholic Social Teaching Initiatives.

The Office of Campus Ministry recently underwent internal changes, transitioning from an occupancy of Franciscan friars to Dominican friars. Under this new direction and leadership, both Mendoza-Waters and Associate Director Harrison Harvey’s positions are leaving the Campus Ministry office. 
In an email to the CUA community, Mendoza-Waters wrote, “As a part of the reorganizing, my position as known is set to be eliminated and I find myself asking God to show the next steps in his call for me. While I don’t know where the next call to serve will be, I know that I am a better person and servant because of this community.”

Mendoza-Waters graduated from the Catholic University of America (CUA) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy under a Pre-Law track in 2001 and later received her masters in Social Work (Social Justice/Social Change) at CUA in 2009. During her time at CUA, she has also worked as the Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Designee on campus, Assistant Campus Minister for Community Service, Associate Campus Minister for Community Service and Justice, and Associate Director of Campus Ministry and Community Service and Justice. 

Senior nursing major Rita Rogers, Student Minister and Cardinal Service Corps (CSC) student leader, shared how work on campus goes beyond the typical job description.

 “Her impact to the school doesn’t only come through her leadership and the significant love for service that she’s fostered, but also for the small sacrifices and acts of patience that she gives to those whom she encounters,” stated Rogers.

While working at CUA, Mendoza-Waters received an Alumni Achievement Award from the Catholic University Alumni in 2015 and an Institutional Leadership Award from the Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic Region chapter in 2017 for encouraging service and community involvement. 

Mendoza-Waters also spent two years volunteering through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Punta Gorda, Belize as a teacher and librarian. Through her role in Campus Ministry, she has successfully led the Summer Service Fellowship and Service and Justice Immersion Program, bringing students to Jamaica, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Mexico, Florida, New Jersey, and Arizona to learn, serve, experience, and grow. 

Student Minister Maevis Fahey, sophomore politics and philosophy major, shared, “Emmjolee has been a powerhouse for the entire Catholic University community. Her elegant grace in leadership, persistent drive for service, and absolute dedication to giving back are a model for every student on campus.”
Additionally, Mendoza-Waters coordinated events between the CUA and the Brookland community, such as Halloween on Campus and Spring to CUA. She focused a lot on service, dialogues, and spreading awareness on campus through Mother Teresa Day of Service, Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, National Migration Week, St. Oscar Romero Week, MLK Day of Service, and the MLK Teach-In. She also had a close relationship with student leaders as a director of the Cardinal Service Corps.

“I hope in some small way that I have helped you learn about the community around you, build relationships with the poor and marginalized, and see the face of Christ in others. I hope you have a deeper understanding of our beautiful and rich Catholic Social Teaching and that you have a heart turned toward justice,” wrote Mendoza-Waters in the email to students.

Through her management of several service programs and encouragement to care for the vulnerable and oppressed, Mendoza-Waters left an impact on several students. 

“I have learned so much from Emmjolee’s dedication, not only to her family and her work, but also to her Faith.  Emmjolee is always talking about her family and the people in her life who have served her and shown her Christ in return,” Rogers said.

Sophomore philosophy major Michael Ellison, CSC Homeless Food Runs leader, stated, “Emmjolee brings joy and thoughtfulness to everything she does. Her constant smile and caring encouragement push everyone who works with her to give their best and truly put themselves out there to do radical service to God and their neighbor.”

Freshman criminology major Madeline Haverback, who is a CSC leader for Homeless Food Runs, said, “Through her Campus Ministry work and presence at CUA, she inspires me and others to make a difference in the world by placing God and others before ourselves. Emmjolee has had an impact on so many on campus and she will be dearly missed.”

“She has upheld social justice and service at Catholic U for years, and she demonstrates what it means to be a mother and servant leader in every way. I feel truly lucky to know Emmjolee, and I will always keep her as a role model for community leadership, service and motherhood,” said Fahey.

In her final announcement email towards students, Mendoza-Waters thanked students for the time she had with them and invited people to visit her before the summer break. 

“My heart is full of gratitude for you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey and letting me walk with you. Thank you for walking with me, for breaking bread with me, and for being the face of Christ for me. After all of these years, you continue to inspire and challenge me,” Mendoza-Waters wrote. “I know that you will do amazing things in the community and the world. I look forward to hearing how you will continue to serve others, most especially the poor.”

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