Class Notes Profiles
For Nick Cocalis, Comm ’07, and Andy Atwell, Law ’09, Library Hill was a launch pad.
While sitting in their Library Hill apartment adjacent to campus, inspiration struck Cocalis and Atwell. They had just returned to Marquette after leading a group of students on a mission trip to Jamaica. Their hearts remained focused on what happened thousands of miles away.
“We really saw the need and saw what a group of Marquette students could do,” Cocalis remembers. “We can really make an impact in some of these communities.”
That call to serve became the duo’s driving focus, and their concept for Next Step Ministries was born. Each year, the nonprofit based in Madison, Wis., takes more than 4,500 young people on 80 week-long mission trips to nine communities in the United States and Caribbean.
These volunteers have tackled everything from building a residence for HIV/AIDS patients in the Bahamas to assisting with tornado relief in Joplin, Mo.
But Next Step’s mission is larger than painting and pounding nails. And the trips serve a deeper purpose for the teenage volunteers. At each work site, evening prayer activities and worship music help weave together faith with service.
“As great as the work is, the reason we do this is for students to grow in their personal relationships with Christ,” Cocalis says. “The biggest thing is understanding that your faith isn’t just a Sunday morning activity, that being men and women of God is a 24/7 thing.” — Jessie Bazan