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Jesse Kopp ’11, ’12Posted Monday, Nov. 7, 2011
Juan Ospina ’10 is an inspiration to many current students and alumni. He is making the world a better place just like Richard Bruno, a professor in the College of Liberal Education who lost his life in the earthquake in Haiti while overseeing a Journey of Hope service mission.
JD, as he likes to be called, said that Bruno was a big reason why JD decided to join the Peace Corp. and try and make a difference. He went to Ecuador and volunteered just like Bruno had done so many times. I sat down with JD to ask him a few questions about his experience and what he took out of his Lynn education.
1. What about your Lynn education helped you get where you are today?
In a college where actually less than 2 out of the 10 people I met were from Florida, I learned how to interact more openly with people from different cultures and environments. I remember working on a group project for science where I heard a French accent, a Boston accent and a South African accent all at once. It wasn’t until after graduation that I realized that thanks to Lynn I would now have friends literally from around the world. This helped me in Ecuador especially since it is a very ethnically diverse country. During training, I had to work with an indigenous group in order to help the community members with spreading awareness concerning youth labor law, since it was the custom to put young boys and girls to work in the streets, selling candy or whatever it is that they could find.
My Lynn education also is helping me tremendously as I apply to various graduate programs. Since I’ve kept a solid relationship with a few of my professors, I’ve been able to contact them for recommendation letters and even for career advice.
2. Were there particular faculty members who had an impact on you? How?
I’d actually would like to take this moment to thank Dr. Richard Bruno for the impact he’s had on me. He was one of the professors who passed away during the Hope for Haiti J-term trip in 2009. Dr. Bruno was one of my first professors at Lynn and it was he who first taught me the importance of helping others and to live life to its fullest. As a practicing medical doctor who once presided over former Secretary of State Colin Powel in Air Force One, Dr. Bruno taught his students that it would take hard work and a sound education that would help us stand out in this world and contribute generously to society.
3. How did Lynn meet your particular educational needs?
By becoming more academically independent and showing me how to learn as opposed to just showing me the answers was an invaluable trait that I attained at Lynn. The dialogues of learning in particular were special because it promoted conversation in the classroom and it motivated the students to ask questions and to seek answers among themselves. This was important for me in the Peace Corps because the answer to my problems were not all given to me; I had to find them through engaging in the community directly and speaking to the public.
4. What words of advice would you give to a LU student today?
My advice to LU students would be threefold: 1) keep your GPA up 2) join one or two clubs (no more than 5) and build it into one of the best clubs you can make it. 3) and enjoy South Florida!
The four years in college fly by and I would say that most students don’t realize that. That is why I would advise LU students to take full advantage of their resources including professors and even the technology at their disposal. As a small school, a student can easily make the most out of their professors. Whether they can help them start a new club or even for some extra help, everybody is usually just a short walk away, literally.
5. Can you provide a brief overview of your activities/accomplishments since graduation?
While I just graduated last year, I feel that I have yet a lot more to accomplish and to discover. Regardless, with the Peace Corps I was able to apply what I learned at Lynn in terms of leadership and creativity in Ecuador through my work there in community development.
6. Do you keep in contact with any alumni, students or professors from your time here at Lynn University?
I recently attended a “Lynn on the Road” event in New York City this month where I met with Dr. Ross and Matt Roos, who was actually my first supervisor when I worked at the circulation desk in the library, before he was promoted to be director of alumni relations.
7. What experience did you take from your trip?Working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, I learned how to positively impact a community. I learned that real change comes from within, and that passion and a sincere drive necessary to induce a positive influence to your environment. My community was in dire need of drinkable water and an educated youth, so I hosted workshops directed to teenagers to stress the importance of school and proper water management. I also learned about perseverance, as having perseverance reflects a true desire to attain your goals. I realized that everything I did, whether it had to do with submitting or a request to do a workshop or even to try to gather a group of people to work towards a common good, resistance was to be met everywhere. Regardless, I knew the work had to be done. It was from this that I learned that it is only perseverance that has the ability to defeat resistance of any kind.
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