Dedicated to providing students with transformational experiences that are central to an Ignatian education, Pam Rector of the Center for Service and Action was recognized by Loyola Marymount University as a Hidden Hero.
Rector, director and founder of LMU’s Center for Service and Action, received the Hidden Heroes Award from the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice at a ceremony on October 24.
The Hidden Heroes Award honors individuals and groups who exemplify justice and reconciliation in their lives. Recipients are recognized through the telling of their life story in a dramatic performance.
“I’m so grateful to have been nominated and selected for the award,” says Rector (pictured above with her daughter Grace). “As the founding director of CSA, it has been simply amazing to see how the department has grown over the last 15 years.”
As director of CSA since 1998, Rector co-founded El Espejo, a mentoring program that connects LMU students with high-risk students at nearby Lennox Middle School, where she was a counselor and vice principal prior to coming to LMU.
“I think that growth [of CSA] speaks to the need for a center that offers opportunities for direct service, advocacy, immersion, community-based learning, working with community partners and the many Service Organizations and Clubs that work with CSA,” Rector adds.
Annually for the past 14 years, Rector has also accompanied a group of students on one of the Center’s Alternative Breaks.
“These trips are not comfortable — both literally and physically,” writes Rich Rocheleau, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, in his nomination of Rector for the recognition. “Yet Pam goes every year and makes herself 100% available to the students. She opens herself up to helping them and offers her wisdom, experience and worldly perspective.”
Rectors says LMU is a place where staff and faculty share a vision for creating an environment that supports student learning and personal growth.
“With that common purpose, woven into the LMU mission statement, we have a community that is working together for good,” adds Rector, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s in counseling and M.Ed. in educational administration all from LMU.
A lifelong advocate for social justice, Rector has special interests in immigration reform, educational equity and working toward a justice system focused on rehabilitation over retribution.
At LMU, she says she is most proud of how her CSA staff continues to empower students to be the best people they can be.
“Through one-on-one meetings, providing grant money and training our students and teaching them to train other students, we have witnessed some incredible student success stories,” Rector says.
Rector adds that there are many new projects in the works at CSA. The center recently implemented its own post-graduate service program — the Ignatian Service Corps, which is based in Los Angeles. CSA is also imagining the idea of a place-based initiative that looks at communities where LMU is already connected and the center can deepen its commitment and connection to the community.
“What’s not evident is the inconspicuous dedication Pam has for ensuring that students she encounters on a regular basis have the transformational experiences that are central to an Ignatian education,” Rocheleau wrote.