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Coming Full Circle: Alumna Continues to Live Sacred Heart Mission

Coming Full Circle: Alumna Continues to Live Sacred Heart Mission

As a third generation alumna of Sacred Heart schools, Devi Zinzuvadia CES'91 recognizes how a lifelong commitment to service is born out of the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria.

As a third generation alumna of Sacred Heart schools, Devi Zinzuvadia CES'91 recognizes how a lifelong commitment to service is born out of the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria. After graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and several years working in network TV news, Devi did what came naturally for her: She shifted to the nonprofit sector, and since 2013 has been on staff at Collective Impact, a community-based nonprofit serving children and youth in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. In her role, Devi stays connected to Convent & Stuart Hall through the school's Heart to Heart program.

What do you remember most about your time at Convent?
I think I remember the physical space most clearly: Grant House, Herbst House, the Library, Sister Hoffman's office. I am still drawn to the Chapel, a lifelong space of prayer and reflection for me after countless liturgies and celebrations, Midnight Masses and May Days. Seeing the Mater still fills me with a certain peace, a feeling of connection with fellow Children of the Sacred Heart. My mother and her sisters attended Sacred Heart schools, as did their mother and her sisters, back in New York; I do love the idea that we are all connected by this common experience, even if the details of our school lives might be a bit different.

Briefly describe a few milestone events in your career journey.
The early part of my career was spent in television news; I worked on some great production teams at ABC News in Washington, D.C. and CBS News in New York before returning home to San Francisco, where I worked at KPIX-5 as a newswriter. I still do some editorial consulting work, which I love. In 2010, I made the transition to the nonprofit world, specifically youth and community development; I wanted to put my talents to work with and for those at the margins. I hold a BA in English from USC and a master's in journalism from Columbia.

What is your role at Collective Impact? Briefly describe how your work keeps you connected to Convent & Stuart Hall.
I am the Director of Engagement at Collective Impact, a community-based youth development nonprofit in the Western Addition. I came to the organization through my connection with Sheryl Davis (now Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission), a dear friend and mentor with whom I first worked when she was efforting community engagement for the Schools via the Heart to Heart program and I was on the Advancement Department staff. These days, my work at Collective Impact keeps me connected to the Convent & Stuart Hall community in a variety of ways, primarily through service learning opportunities with our program participants and hosting drives for back-to-school season and holiday gift needs.

What do you think you've carried with you from your Convent days?
I loved my time at Convent Elementary. We had an exceptionally close class, and many of us have been friends since Kindergarten. When I have a chance to visit with Convent students now, I tell them to pick their pals carefully because they'll be stuck with them forever! But kidding aside, three decades of friendship and fun are definitely something to treasure. I've certainly carried my memories with me as well: playing in Grant Garden, Noels in the Main Hall, Little Theater morning assembly, our annual Passover Seder, Prize Day and so many more.

My love of reading and writing was fostered at Convent and remains central to my life today.  Many alumnae of a certain age will always be grateful to Mrs. Van Loon for drilling us in our grammar rules and making us memorize every inch of the globe, or Mrs. Mazzucco for always being a quiet enforcer of the importance of kindness and caring for all. It's both the practical knowledge and the intangible practices that are part of me forever, thanks to being a Convent girl.

What advice would you give current students hoping to pursue a service-oriented career?
I love when I have the chance to tell Convent & Stuart Hall students that they already have all the tools they need to excel at service; they need only look to the Goals & Criteria to guide them. I would also say: challenge situations you know to be unjust and unfair, take every opportunity to solve the problems in front of you, and never hold back from being a force for good.

A group of us gather for dinner several times a year, and when our beloved Ms. Charm retired we were excited to take her out to celebrate and share our gratitude. Ms. Charm thoughtfully brought a copy of our eighth grade yearbook, which I had not seen in ages. I was delighted to find a photo of me reading with three students at Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary — I'd forgotten all about that picture! I'd love to be able to tell 13-year-old me that nearly 30 years later, she'd still be serving community and reading with Cobb Kindergarteners...she'd be totally thrilled!