Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

IVC Member Reflection: Susan Olenski, IVC Chicago

by | Jun 28, 2023



Recently we asked IVC Chicago member Susan Olenski to share some thoughtsand fond reflections on her time serving at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School. We hope this will be the first in a series of short interviews that allow members to share their experiences.

What was your first impression of Our Lady of Tepeyac?

My first thought was, “This is a really old building. And it is spotless!” My first IVC

 post was a charter school that offered a last chance for students to earn a HS diploma. Almost every male in the program had been adjudicated. Covid hit and

it had to close completely.


By the start of the next school year I was posted to OLT. They met Covid head on: a secure, pristine HS using thermometers, masks, separate entrances for the different levels, directional pathways, up or down stairways, air purifiers and disinfectant, hand cleaner, cell phones parked secure and accessible in each classroom. Dedicated leadership prevailed!


Can you share some of the greatest lessons you have learned through your IVC service at OLT?

-Young people respond to kindness and humility.

-Girls can still benefit from a single gender educational experience.

-Adults who work in these situations are extraordinarily generous.

-Faith-based education is very valuable: it asks more from students but it

returns more for their benefit


Share with us a fond memory you have of your time spent at OLT.

The first time I saw a senior take over the gym floor on a Day of Recollection– those Freshies would have followed her anywhere. Spirit? Poise? Confidence? She had it and there was no “less than” about the gifts God gave her and what she was doing to develop them.


OLT is wonderfully open to new ideas and opportunities. They will hear out a proposal. They apply critical thinking skills to their own realities. They work very hard to get anything they can that would be helpful to their students.


Finally, what would you say to someone who was considering joining IVC in their region?

The Ignation Volunteer Corp is spirit-driven, energetic and open. It listens to its members. I think I am affirmed in saying God speaks to us in what we experience at our sites as well as Lectio Divina or The Examen. Ignatian spirituality provides us reflecting and praying opportunities to really live out what we believe and to tweak things when it’s less than what we know it could be. To anyone else interested in IVC I would say COME ON! OVER HERE! Good grief: the nightly news is on elsewhere in our condo while I type. Stuff can get depressing! Do you really want to leave things the way they are or do you want to try to make them better?