Evan Vaughan, International Studies '13

The Dream Tracker

Evan Vaughan ’13 helps underserved students pursue bright futures

Nearly every student Evan Vaughan ’13 counsels comes from a low or very low income family. Many of the students’ parents are immigrants who didn’t finish high school. But with the parents' leadership and Evan’s support, these young men and women are graduating with high school diplomas, enrolling in trade schools and colleges, and heading toward a future their parents could only dream of.

Evan is a guidance counselor at a Catholic school for fourth through eighth graders in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, an area known for crime and poverty. The private school he works for, De Marillac Academy, is a special kind of school. For one, it’s tuition-free, funded by donations and support from organizations like the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and De La Salle Christian Brothers. It’s also devoted to keeping students on track long after they graduate from middle school by counseling them through high school and beyond.

The constant communicator

Statistics show that students from low-income families are more likely to drop out of school if they don’t get the right support, Evan says.

That’s why he works with high school seniors, four years out of De Marillac, coaching them through their college and scholarship applications and making sure they meet their deadlines. He stays with them after they’re admitted too, checking in as often as once a week if needed, and connecting them with tutors and other academic support programs. It’s a juggling act of constant communication through text messages, phone calls, and meetings with parents.

To be able to counsel students to find the right future for them and encourage them to follow their passions, I needed to know myself. USF helped me discover who I am.

“I do this because I know the support that De Marillac gives can help graduates discover their passions and reach their full potential,” he says.

Graduates of De Marillac attend trade schools, vocational programs, community colleges, and four-year universities like USF; the University of California, Berkeley; and Loyola University, New Orleans. Ninety percent of De Marillac alums enrolled in college in 2016, compared to 68 percent of high school graduates nationwide.

Committed to Catholic education

It was Evan’s USF experiences that prepared him for this job, says the international studies alumnus.

“To be able to counsel students to find the right future for them and encourage them to follow their passions, I needed to know myself,” he says. “USF helped me discover who I am.”

In college Evan discovered a passion for social justice. He went on immersion trips to countries like Peru and El Salvador, and saw inequality and economic injustice firsthand. That inspired him to intern at a nonprofit that builds schools in poor countries like Haiti and Senegal.

He also struggled with coming out as gay.

“USF, especially University Ministry, offered me the support and safe space to come out and be who I truly am,” he says.

Evan tries to provide a similar supportive environment. Students come to him not only for academic guidance, but to talk about their personal lives, such as changing relationships and struggles at home.

“My students know it’s a safe space with me,” says Evan, who is now a graduate student in USF’s Loading.... “The Jesuits helped me take ownership of my faith. They helped me develop my passion for service. Social justice and service are ingrained in who I am now.”