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Learning in Action at the University of Virginia

Hoos Serving: Grace Kurcina

A headshot of GraceGrace Kurcina is a fourth-year in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in Global Security & Justice and English. She volunteers at UVA as the head program director of the Madison House Arts Mentors Program, which helps to bring the arts to students in underrepresented communities within Charlottesville. Grace also co-chairs the Echols Council mentorship committee, which facilitates community within the program between mentors and first-year mentees. In adddition, Grace currently serves as the president of the International Justice Mission UVA chapter, an organization that fights modern slavery. The UVA campus chapter holds fundraisers and advocacy events for the global organization. Grace also serves as the president and small group leader with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), a campus ministry that she has been part of since her first year. After graduating, Grace hopes to work in the justice or nonprofit field and eventually go to law school.

What led you to your service work?

As a first-year, I was looking for ways to get involved at UVA and feel part of the community here. In high school, I began to get involved in human rights and social justice advocacy, so I knew I had some desire for change in that realm. Over time, I grew to care deeply not just about UVA, but for the community in Charlottesville and our world as well. My involvements, I think, reflect this desire to have made an impact, however small, during my time here.

What has been the most rewarding aspect that comes with your community involvements?Grace and other volunteers holding up a shipment of shirts

Getting to meet and be impacted by so many driven and dedicated peers and others. I've been blown away by how many incredible people have a hand in keeping the UVA and greater Charlottesville community thriving and full of life. I know I will come away with my time here having gained perspective and a love for this community, thanks to the people I've been able to work with.

How has the virtual transition affected your involvements? Has your definition of service remained the same?

The virtual transition last school year was definitely difficult to navigate. All of my involvements were moved mostly, if not fully, online. This, of course, limits the ability to fully connect with fellow students and community members. I found, however, that each organization I am part of was quick and earnest in their desire to continue functioning for the benefit of students and the community. My thoughts about service have remained the same throughout: that service should be externally focused, driven by and for the community and its members; it means engaging and serving people to affect positive change.

How would you encourage others to get involved?

I would start by asking them what they are good at and what they care most about: Grace and other students handing out food on the lawnserving well often requires a combination of these. From there, you can get involved in volunteering in a variety of ways through Madison House. Not to mention, UVA has tons of service-oriented CIOs, many of which address specific community, national, and global needs/issues.

What has been the greatest class you have taken at UVA?

I would have to say Global Cultural Studies with Professor Michael Levenson. I learned so much in just one semester and read some incredible works. I think everyone at UVA should take the course if they are able. Along with that, I absolutely loved my study abroad with UVA in London, a cultural experience originally designed and led by the same professor.

What is your favorite UVA tradition?

This isn't exactly a tradition, but I love going to basketball games a lot. I feel such a sense of school spirit in the student section, not to mention our players and coach Bennett are the best.Grace and other students tabling for International Justice Mission

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?

I would do everything in my power/ability to fight for an end to poverty. So much violence and discrimination in our country and our world stems from poverty. My heavy involvement with International Justice Mission is a reflection of my desire to combat violence and poverty with systemic, judicial change.