Student Life

The Freshman Experience

The Freshman Experience - Fostering a Culture of Encounter

In many places...the culture of exclusion, of rejection, is spreading. There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person in the street. ... Have the courage to go against the tide of this culture of efficiency, this culture of waste. Encountering and welcoming everyone, solidarity – this is what makes our society truly human. Be servants of communion and of the culture of encounter! (Pope Francis, World Youth Day, July 27, 2013)

Overview: A 9 month formation program, the freshman service experience is the first step in a journey towards understanding the Jesuit motto, “Men For and With Others.” It is intended to ground students in a firm understanding that our care for others begins first by fostering authentic friendships and relationships with the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized among us. We cannot truly serve the poor if we do not know the poor, if we do not encounter the poor. More importantly by entering into relationships with the suffering we deepen our friendship with God and his Christ. It is Christ who “identifies himself with the poor and the powerless, with all who are hungry and miserable. Every person in this condition is Christ’s brother or sister; that is why what is done for them is done for Christ himself”. (Men for Others, Father Pedro Arrupe, 1973)

The freshman service experience provides Jesuit students the opportunity to:

  • Develop new relationships and friendships with those experiencing poverty and homelessness, the refugee and stranger among us, the sick and elderly, and children with special educational and physical needs. 
  • Gain knowledge of the six key areas of service and justice that characterize the Jesuit Dallas service experience.  
  • Build community with their fellow classmates through serving our neighbors.

To complete the Freshmen Service Experience, students must participate in: 

  1. direct relationship-based service to the poor and marginalized
  2. a year-long service guidance workshop series

Freshmen Year Direct Service

All freshmen are required to complete the following relationship-based direct service:

  • One weekend or after school service event sponsored by the Office of Service & Justice during the fall semester 
  • One weekend or weeknight service event sponsored by the Office of Service & Justice during the spring semester
  • Attendance at one of two Freshman Service Days (traditionally held in April during the school day)

Jesuit Sponsored Freshman Direct Service Projects Include:

  • Austin Street Center Game Days
  • Champions League
  • Saint Joseph's Activity Days
  • Hillcrest House Dinners
  • Manna for Others Lewisville

Freshmen Service and Justice Guidance 

In addition to direct service, freshmen complete a 9-month long formation program introducing them to all sectors of Jesuit Dallas service and the foundational concepts of the Jesuit Service & Justice Experience. Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, these workshops will take place during regularly scheduled 1st or 2nd period freshmen guidance. One week of guidance a month will be dedicated to growth and enrichment in service and justice. All freshmen are required to complete the following in order to fulfill their first year service and justice requirement:

  • Freshman year service orientation (September)
  • Six workshop seminars introducing the following social justice sectors:
    • Poverty and Homelessness (October)
    • Educational Inequities (November)
    • Environmental Justice (January)
    • Human Dignity and Elder Care (February)
    • Immigration and Refugees (March)
    • Caring for those with Special Needs (April)
  • Sophomore year service preview and service track selection (April IDay)

Frequently Asked Questions