By Jamie Davis ’14
With a Marlboro degree in biochemistry, Moses Sandrof ’07 is currently a research assistant in a Brown University pathobiology lab, studying the effects of commercial and industrial toxicants on the male reproductive system. He puts it simply, “Basically, Nalgenes and how they interact with your balls.”
Moses found this job by e-mailing a contact of his at Brown, who helped him get hired after a bit of back and forth. He says of the work, “I find that it adds depth and tangibility to my view of the world. It’s a great rebound if you’re feeling trapped in the Ivory Tower of the library balcony, because in a lab, it’s the data that talks.” There are challenges, however. “While Marlboro prepared me intellectually for the task of working for a big research institution, it didn’t exactly prepare me technically.”
Although he doesn’t relish this task, Moses has become an expert at dissecting rats in his lab job. He accepts it as long as the research has its heart in the right place and it’s done humanely. What is his next step? “I’m currently applying to graduate programs to further my study of biology in some as-yet-to-be-determined direction. Or moving to a farm…or both.”
By Jamie Davis ’14
After graduating from Marlboro, Willow O’Feral ’07 says that she wasn’t sure what to do but she “knew what she didn’t want to do.” So she decided to just throw herself into “a totally new situation, anything scary and untested that would shock me into action.” She completed a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course and an exchange program in Chiapas, Mexico. There she lived and taught children English for three hours a day, and learned how to speak Spanish for two hours a day. While in Mexico, she was hired for a nine-month teaching contract in Avignon, France, again teaching English.
Willow says these experiences ultimately made her realize she did not want to be a teacher for a profession, but she is still at a crossroads with many available paths. She says Marlboro’s emphasis on hard-working and thinking, self-discipline and creativity shaped her into the person she is now, and looking back on it fills her with happiness and gratitude.
“For the moment, I want to continue being ravenously omnivorous: keep stuffing my face with as many new experiences and places as possible. But I feel much stronger and confident now that I’ve done a good bit of thrashing around in the world.”
Harris County, Texas (the county Houston is in), has sentenced more people to the death penalty than any state in the nation. As a Jesuit Volunteer in Houston, I work at the Gulf Region Advocacy Center, a non-profit law firm that represents indigent defendants facing the death penalty at trial or re-trial. My work is a combination of fascinating and tedious-and it can often be both at the exact same time. I work as the investigative intern, which means I deal with heaps and heaps of records. I collect and process the records we have for the specific client’s case-school records, medical records, foster care records, employment records, anything we can get our hands on really, and I scour them for all of the “meaning” they hold. In addition, I interview potential witnesses (people who know the client, not necessarily people who saw the crime committed), visit clients in prison weekly and also answer the phone-it’s so exciting when you look over and see the ACLU is calling up, or the Innocence Project.
I encounter some of the most horrifying documents and stories on a daily basis. Beyond the challenge of realizing that someone’s life is actually in my hand, I have to deal with the fact that the state wants to kill them because they have often done something legitimately terrifying and painful. It can make you think twice when you realize you’re fighting for the right to life for someone who has murdered or raped or done other horrifying things to people and the pain that act continues to cause the victim’s family. A day at work can be extremely emotionally draining. At the same time, this is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done, and I like that I can see how what I’m doing is directly connected to someone’s fight for their right to life.
I’m planning on starting law school in the Bay Area in the fall and hope to begin a career that focuses on capital punishment, which I’m really excited about. I applied for this position through JVC because I was curious as to whether I would enjoy law in practice and I feel like everyday something confirms that this is exactly what I want to be doing with my life. Working at a law firm is oddly similar to being on Plan. I have this long, never-ending, research-focused project where I am constantly thinking about how things connect to one another.
I was really drawn to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for its focus on community and social justice. Marlboro certainly wasn’t the first place where I’d encountered those values, but without a doubt it developed my desire to have them central in my life. I also live with five fellow volunteers. They all work at totally different places and with very different issues. At dinner each night we talk about whatever crazy stuff went down at our work or what new thing we learned. This often reminds me of those dining hall conversations about class. For those with interest, I highly recommend Marlboro students looking into the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (www.jesuitvolunteers.org), Lutheran Volunteer Corps (www.lutheranvolunteercorps.org) and AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. (www.avodah.net/). You can also find out more about my work at www.gracelaw.org or contact me at email@example.com.