As a registered nurse and former police officer, Teresa Bovia is no stranger to the role of caretaker. In addition to her work as a Student Mentor in the College of Health Professions, Teresa also gives back to her community with Joey's Hope for Hungry Children, a Louisiana-based charity that aims to feed hungry school kids in New Orleans.
"My son loved kids," said Teresa. "He especially loved watching a child's eyes light up with wonder over the simple things many of us take for granted. I'd like to believe he would be actively involved in our charity if he were still alive."
Teresa's son, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Joseph Bovia, was killed while serving in Afghanistan three years ago. She decided to honor his sacrifice by starting a non-profit organization that feeds more than 250 inner-city children each week.
"We feed New Orleans school children through a backpack program," she said. "Each week, we send kids home with a bag full of healthy food so they don't go hungry."
But Joey's Hope for Hungry Kids does more than fight hunger in New Orleans. Volunteers also mentor children in the program through field trips and after-school activities.
"I really consider myself as a mentor to these kids," Teresa said. "Every Wednesday, we pick them up after school. We take them on a field trip or feed them a snack, let them play on the playground, and then do an activity that teaches them some sort of life skill. We might teach them about integrity or how to be on a team."
Teresa says her position at WGU offers her the flexibility she needs to keep her charity growing and flourishing.
"Joey's Hope for Hungry Kids is the joy of my life, and WGU helps make that possible for me," she said.
Teresa also takes as great amount of pride in her work as a student mentor at WGU. She's proud of the work her students do and what they are able to achieve, knowing many juggle work and family life with their studies.
"WGU is really interested in the success of its students," she said. "I know that if I have a student struggling with something, I can connect them with the appropriate department or person to get the problem solved. The university goes to great lengths to accommodate students. It's one of the reasons I was drawn to WGU in the first place."
While Teresa has only worked for WGU as a Student Mentor for a few short months, she feels she has always held positions that have allowed her to mentor and help others.
"I've worked as a police officer, a chief nursing officer, and a registered nurse," she said. "Motivating, inspiring, and teaching others has always been important to me. I feel fortunate that every position I've had, including my job at WGU, has empowered me to do those things."