Talk with Jill Cote ’07

Jill Cote

Jill Cote, a theology major from Biddeford, says her favorite quotation is from Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Jill Cote '07 remembers the day that changed her life. She was 16 and helping to staff a clinic in a poor village surrounded by sugar cane fields in the Dominican Republic. A mother with three young children clinging to her approached. When offered two items from the grab bag of supplies Cote was handing out, the mother appeared more grateful for the Spanish-Creole Bible than for the second item, a bar of soap.

Cote says something about that experience deepened her faith. Before that, she had been going through the motions as a "cradle Catholic." But by her senior year in high school, she was volunteering 800 hours with her youth ministry group and set to attend a Catholic college out of state.

How did you end up at Saint Joseph's?

I didn't want to stay in Maine, but my dad made me apply to Saint Joseph's. My name preceded me (from all the volunteering). When I arrived for a campus visit, Katie Pinard '02 of Campus Ministry, who is also from Biddeford, welcomed me and made me feel at home. I wouldn't change it now for the world.

Did you get involved with activities freshman year?

I got involved right away as outreach co-chair on the Campus Ministry Council. Because of that, in my second month in college, I played a large role in the Hunger and Homelessness Conference. Later that semester, Holly Zerillo, the community service coordinator, approached me about being a group leader at Spring Break Workfest, which I've done now for the last two years.

Did you stay active as a sophomore?

At the end of my freshman year, I was elected president of Campus Ministry. Sophomore year was a blur of activity, and I held six jobs. I was still on the advisory board for Youth Ministry. I got too involved and started not to sleep. I was getting sick ... trying to be Superwoman.

Whatever I'm involved with, I have to give my best. I take all the responsibility on my back. So I've learned an important lesson - to delegate.

What's the biggest obstacle you've faced?

Losing my parents' trust. Family is so important to me. I started drinking before I got to St. Joe's, and my brother told my parents. I was substance-free freshman year, then sophomore year I started drinking again, and I lost their trust again. I am constantly trying to find peace with it all.

What do you want to do with your life?

I want to combine my passion and my profession. I see myself doing service, being a missionary or teaching in a parochial school. Any opportunity that I could serve others more and myself less would be a great aspiration to strive for.

If I meet a soul mate, then I would consider marriage. But I consider a commitment to vocation as equal to commitment in marriage.

God takes you where you need to go. It's all a faith journey ... and there are signs along the way.

If you were to become a missionary, where would you like to go?

Istanbul...Nepal. I would leave everything and go where I'm needed.