It couldn’t hurt to try.
That’s how Dominique Brutus felt when applying to St. Joseph’s University, New York as a senior in high school. And that’s how she felt when applying to work with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) as a senior in college.
It worked out both times in her favor, as Brutus graduated from the Long Island Campus of St. Joseph’s University last month with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Business Administration. She began her training with FOCUS — a missionary organization that visits colleges and universities across the United States to discuss faith with students — just two days after the University’s 2022 commencement ceremony.
“Although it made me feel nervous, I loved the idea of sharing my faith, something that I love and find much joy in,” Brutus said.
Brutus’ missionary work training took place at Ave Maria University in Florida. As of right now, she’s not sure at which college or university she’ll be working.
Exploring Her Passions and Finding Her Purpose at St. Joseph’s
As a first-year student, Brutus wasn’t too sure what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, but she knew she wanted to take her four years at St. Joseph’s to find out more about herself and what she’s passionate about.
“Despite being clueless, I did a plethora of things I enjoyed on campus,” Brutus, 22, said at the University’s Baccalaureate Prayer Service for the Class of 2022. “I honestly loved doing everything that I could.”
As someone with varied interests, Brutus joined different clubs and organizations, exploring every avenue that fascinated her.
“I am only defined by something that is timeless: God, who made me in his image,” she said. “All else that is passing doesn’t define me, but merely describes me.”
From there, she immersed herself in the student organizations BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) and STARS (Students Taking an Active Role in Society), while also being very involved in Campus Ministry activities and services. She eventually became a student worker in the Campus Ministry office.
“Being a college student less than a month ago, I know the problems and struggles that many are facing, and I would love to invite them to see that their identity does not lie in their grades, talents, friends or even their future careers,” Brutus said of her work with FOCUS. “They were made loved and should know of that love, and I feel honored that I will get to share with so many people this love I know as God.”
Brought to Biology
Although she will be spending two years on her missionary work, Brutus still feels called to the field of biology — a field she’s known she’s wanted to work in since she was a child.
“My mom was really sick when I was in elementary and middle school,” the Ridge native said. “She’s gotten better since, but I remember just thinking I want to be a doctor so I could bring people back to health.”
Before accepting her position with FOCUS, Brutus worked as a direct support professional at AHRC, an agency with group homes for those who are intellectually and physically disabled.
“I loved that job because I got to care for people and treat them with the love and dignity they deserve,” she said.
“I don’t know if I still want to be a doctor, but I know I want to work in the healthcare field, so I can love and help those who are sick,” Brutus continued.
Graduation and Greece
“My favorite part was getting to meet all the wonderful people who traveled with me and spending time in Nafplio,” said Brutus, who originally was supposed to go on the trip in May 2020 after completing the honors program. “During our two days in this city, my friends and I became closer. We tried a lot of foods and went on many adventures, like climbing 888 stairs at night to get to the top of a citadel and go stargazing.
“I really got to enjoy my time there, and I appreciate all the memories made in this city,” she added.
While it was Brutus’ first time studying abroad, she encourages other students not to miss out on the opportunity.
“I would say to go even if you don’t know anyone, because you will most likely meet wonderful people on the trip like I did!” she said.
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And though her time at St. Joseph’s came to an end, she remains thankful for the people who helped her get where she is today.
“I’d like to thank my parents for supporting me and encouraging me to be the best version of myself,” she said. “They’ve worked hard to get me to this point in my life, and without them giving me their all, I would not be the person I am today. I also would like to thank my five older siblings, who are my biggest role models and guides to what I should and should not do in life. Ever since I was born, they looked out for me and taught me several valuable life lessons.
“Lastly, I’d like to give a special thanks to Cristian Murphy, the campus minister, for always believing in me and my abilities even when I was not able to see them myself,” Brutus continued. “He always encouraged me and showed me what a great leader looks like. I really appreciate everything he’s done and taught me.”