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Convocation Speaker Liz Hauck Challenges Students to ‘Show Up’ and Volunteer

Led by ROTC students, band members, and cheerleaders, over 2,000 first-year Boston College students paraded down Linden Lane with several hoisting banners plastered with their dorm names for the first time in two years on Thursday. 

Boston College alum Liz Hauck, BC ’00 and M.Ed. ’09, then delivered this year’s convocation speech, sharing her stance on the benefits of community service and volunteer work with the Class of 2026. 

“Volunteering is about intention and technique,” she said. “And it all begins with showing up. … So show up Class of 2026. Show up whenever, wherever, and for whoever you can.”

In an interview with The Heights, Hauck said that her involvement with community service programs such as Appalachia Volunteers, Shaw Leadership Program, Ignacio Volunteers, Emerging Leader Program, and 4Boston taught her how to prioritize and incorporate volunteering into her life. 

“Clubs like 4Boston teach you about commitment,” she said. “That kind of service becomes a part of your routine at Boston College. You make the choice to show up every week. One thing that’s great about the culture of service here is that it’s almost expected. It’s the norm that people do something.”

According to Hauck, BC professors’ commitment to their students—even after graduation—serves as an example of how they dedicate themselves to serving others. When Hauck told her former professors she would be returning to BC for convocation, she said they responded very quickly.

“I emailed three of my former professors, one from my Perspectives class freshman year, one from a literature and social change class sophomore year, and my creative writing and honors thesis advisor,” she said. “I heard back from all of them within a couple of hours and it’s been 22 years since I had them as professors. That really speaks to the kind of community and people’s commitment to one another here at BC.” 

Hauck also highlighted the importance of continuously engaging in service opportunities. Volunteering is a skill, she said—one that must be practiced by repetition. 

“I don’t think once is sufficient,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a while to push past the awkwardness and get into something more meaningful. As with any kind of exercise, you have to practice in order to see the benefit of it.”

Hauck said her memoir, Home Made, recounts her experiences and the lessons she learned after volunteering to lead a cooking class at a house for teenagers under state care. From that experience, Hauck said she developed basic guidelines and rules about community service. 

“The four guiding principles of volunteering: show up when you say you are going to show up,” she said. “Notice the one small thing you’re supposed to do and do that thing. Be flexible, and prepared to improvise, because something will always go differently than expected. And then leave and come back again”

In the interview, Hauck said she hopes to inspire students to get involved with social justice while speaking to the freshman class. 

“I hope they feel compelled to do some kind of service,” she said. “You have time for what you make time for and nobody’s too busy to help. We need to broaden how we talk about service. And if we’re committed to social justice, we need to think about what that looks like on a daily level.”  

During her speech, Hauck told the assembled students that service and social justice efforts are about giving any time you are able to provide on a week-to-week basis.

“What I do have to offer you is this,” Hauck said. “Not a rubric for how to live a life as a person for others, but an example of service as a way to our meaning, toward community, and through creed, and a reminder that social justice is a practice that requires whatever time you can give it this week.”

Hauck concluded this year’s academic convocation by emphatically encouraging students to volunteer and involve themselves in service throughout their time at BC. 

“I want to make a case for getting involved in service opportunities during your weeks or years to come at Boston College,” she said. “Venture beyond your comfort zone to show up for your neighbor. For an hour, or a few hours, for a week, or over spring break.”

September 9, 2022