Eric Vicens, Class of 2001
Eric Vicens’s parents enrolled him at St. Robert Bellarmine with hopes that he would be given a quality education and safe environment to grow in mind, body, and spirit. Eric is now a social worker in Chicago supporting people in need facing crisis and overcoming some of life’s most difficult challenges. After graduating from SRB in 2001, Eric attended his first high school choice, St. Patrick High School. Eric flourished as a student while also involved in athletics, the literature magazine, and the Eucharistic ministry team. Eric would go on to his first choice college, DePaul University. At DePaul, Eric continued to succeed in the classroom, started a chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, dedicated time to community service, participated in service immersion trips, and was active in various organizations across campus. Following graduation in 2009, Eric committed to a one-year faith based service year at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. Led by St. Robert’s very own, Father Scott Donahue, Mercy Home provides kids in crisis with the support and guidance they need to realize their potential and make positive decisions. After his service year, Eric was hired at Mercy Home to continue his work with the children. In 2014, Eric got his Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), then did a year of service with Rostro de Cristo (RDC) in Durán, Ecuador. RDC provides people an experience to encounter Christ by helping the poor of Ecuador. In August 2015, Eric returned from Ecuador and has reconnected with SRB. Here are some of his reflections on SRB’s impact on his life, recent work, and where he’s headed next.
What do you remember of your time at SRB?
When I think back on my time at St. Roberts, I am filled with rich memories of walking the hallways to my locker, sitting in Sister Ann’s class, playing on slippery gym floors, and trying to figure out who I was. I had transferred to SRB in 6th grade from a smaller private school and was unsure of what I was getting into. I quickly made friends who were very welcoming and invited me into their circle. The teachers were tough and challenged me to work to my potential. Coaches and teachers helped build self-confidence as I continuously learned about not only my abilities but also my potential. I remember questioning… “Do I fit in? Can I be good at this? Am I smart enough?” I quickly learned the answer was YES.
How do SRB values still live within you today?
SRB has positively impacted me in many ways. The importance of quality education and hard work are still ingrained in me. A learning spirit has always been a part of my upbringing and was only enhanced with my time at SRB. I excelled academically all my life and I’m always looking for opportunities to learn more both personally and professionally. I’m learning Spanish and currently working towards my social work license. Over the years my thoughts on education have changed. I now see how education can lift someone’s spirits and fight global poverty. I’ve realized how lucky I am to have access to education that others in the world equally deserve. No one can take that away from me no matter what hard times I may fall upon in life. I will always have my degrees, knowledge, and an opportunity to make the world a better place. SRB held me to high academic standards and as a result, I am a better person.
How does it feel when you return to SRB?
When I return to SRB, I’m pleasantly surprised and hopeful for the future. For a while, I was very worried about the future of SRB and if it would be shut down. However, over the last few years I have seen SRB doing some amazing things that makes me believe in its long-term longevity. I was able to support the Harvest Gala by volunteering and observed a radiant crowed excited to support SRB. A lively preschool, increased social media presence, and teen club are amongst the many things that inspire. I am looking forward to see how SRB grows and hope that one day, I may send my own children there.
What about SRB has left the strongest mark?
Sister Ann was one of my teachers and without a doubt has made the strongest and longest lasting mark on my life. Its true when they say, people may not remember what you did but will always remember how you made them feel. Sister Ann believed in me as a student and as a person. She always encouraged me to do my best and helped me believe in myself. I was worried how I fit in at a new school, and she made me feel welcome by a warm smile and genuine interest. To this day, I like to stay connected with her. Nothing has changed—she is still the beautiful radiant person she has always been!
What are your future aspirations?
Inspired by Sister Ann, I will continue to dedicate myself to help and support others by not only my career choices but also my relationships with others. I will continue to nurture my learning spirit, count and share my blessings, and find ways to inspire young people as SRB did for me.