The careers of Sean Sercu’s family members seem to have played a hand in his own destiny. The son of a retired police officer and brother of an attorney spawned an early interest in criminal justice, the degree that Sercu will graduate with in May through the College of Liberal Arts. But it seems unfair to ignore the fact that his mother and sister—both teachers—somehow influenced his decision to accept a field experience assignment with Hillside Children’s Center in Rochester nearly 16 months ago. That invaluable experience, according to Sercu, has led to full-time employment with the agency that provides care for youth and families with a wide range of emotional, behavioral or life-circumstance challenges.
In his current role as a youth-care professional, Sercu helps a group of 14 young people, ranging in age from 15 to 18, acclimate into society by re-introducing them to basic tasks such as opening a bank account, socializing with others, grocery shopping and making dinner.
“My job is to help these young people make their way back into society,” says Sercu, a Rochester native. “I absolutely love working with these kids, but trust me, this isn’t the kind of work you get into if you want to be a millionaire. If you don’t put your heart and soul into this job, the kids know it—they feel it. I’m most satisfied when the kids are discharged from Hillside and I see that they’re becoming successful at overcoming their daily struggles. They are different people when they leave Hillside, and I love that I helped in their transformation.”
Sercu, captain of RIT’s wrestling team, says that while he has traditionally been introverted and quiet, his field experience at Hillside has helped him grow and readily accept responsibility and accountability.
“I wouldn’t change any of this for the world, and I thank Judy Porter, my field experience coordinator, all the time,” he says. “I could never simply show up for a shift and leave. I value the connections I’ve made with these kids. There’s a feeling that can’t be explained when sometimes the only person who can help a kid escape their moment of crisis is me.”