Jesuit Volunteer is Pushing the Limits
Just how many pushups do you think you could do in a day?
How about 65,000? That’s the number Kelly Miguens challenged herself to complete over the course of a one-month period…with a little help from her friends. Miguens, a 2010 graduate of the University of Scranton, currently working as an unpaid volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Detroit, Mich., asked 46 of her fellow volunteers to join her in reaching her goal of 65,000 pushups in a one-month period.
Miguens’ “Pushing for a DREAM” project was organized to raise awareness of the DREAM Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide citizenship to undocumented minors who complete a college degree or military service. Each year, about 65,000 seniors graduate from American high schools who are not legal citizens.
Each of the 46 volunteers who supported Kelly in the pushup project had to complete more than 19 pushups per day for more than a month. The volunteers encouraged one another by hosting pushup parties, doing pushups before lunch breaks and creating a “10 pushups by noon!” rule. Miguens established a dedicated Facebook page to share pushup accomplishments, photos and to post a running tally of pushups completed.
The result: in addition to beefed up biceps, Miguens’ unique “Pushing for a Dream” project has landed her a trip to the nation’s capital as the winner of the Advocate for Change Project, a contest jointly sponsored by the Jesuit Conference, the Jesuit Volunteers Corps and the Jesuit Refugee Service.
The contest asked Jesuit Volunteers to find ways to incorporate advocacy projects for the poor and underserved into their work. For Miguens, who currently serves as a University Minister at the University of Detroit Mercy, creating awareness of the DREAM Act was a natural fit.
“I realized what limited opportunities students who are undocumented have and how different their futures look compared to mine,” says Miguens. “I could choose to go on to college and I could choose to become a volunteer but for most of these students, the possibilities of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, an educator, are all closed to them. I wanted to raise awareness and mobilize my fellow volunteers to help me.”
The volunteers already dedicate a year of their lives to work in some of the poorest areas of the United States, where they help out at soup kitchens, provide pro bono legal aid to undocumented workers or volunteer with AIDS patients. More than 250 grassroots organizations across the world count on Jesuit Volunteers to provide essential services. The Advocate for Change contest encouraged the Jesuit Volunteers to reach beyond the scope of their current efforts and think of ways to advocate for the communities they are serving.
“Kelly is a great example of the JVC mission” said Kevin O’Brien, president of Jesuit Volunteer Corps. “Her experience with people in need has impelled her to advocacy and action, the requirements of social justice.”
Although Miguens’ one-month project was completed on March 21, her work does not end with 65,000 pushups. This energetic volunteer has already begun putting her advocacy skills to work as she lobbies for passage of the DREAM Act across seven states.
Jumping jacks can’t be far behind.
Kelly Miguens (far right) and her fellow Detroit Jesuit Volunteers (left to right) Thomas Rogers, Spenser Leverett and Dave Holmes helped complete 65,000 pushups to raise awareness of the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide citizenship to undocumented minors who complete college or serve in the military.