Service organization helps student find identity
By Jacob Born
When people see Dan Schergen walking around the Marquette campus, they have a variety of reactions. Some are instantly drawn to his ever-changing hair color. Some comment on his Ash Ketchum hat covering said hair. Or they could talk about his fleur-de-lis tattoo on his right calf. But whenever you talk to Schergen, you expect to see his goofy smile.
“Service is very important to me,” Schergen said. “I’ve lived my life essentially through service and I try to do something all the time. I try to give back to the world all the time.”
Schergen, a junior in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, is heavily involved both on and off campus. He is a part of MUTV and will be the entertainment director next year. He also plays in a pop-punk rock band and does some shows acoustically. But to him, the favorite thing he does at Marquette is Mardi Gras.
“When I came to Marquette, I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” Schergen said. “I was in the band, but it wasn’t quite the same… Service organizations really called out to me, and that made me realize that I wanted to go on Mardi Gras.”
Mardi Gras is a service organization completely run by students. The group’s main activity is traveling by minivan down to New Orleans. Schergen went on his first trip the summer of his freshman year, and now he can’t stop going back.
Schergen credits Mardi Gras for his Marquette experience. He said that before Mardi Gras, he had a difficult time making friends and being comfortable with himself. But the organization and the people in it have helped him break out of his shell.
“I’ve always had a hard time making friends once I get in a new social situation,” Schergen said. “But after a while I get comfortable and make a ton of friends and it was just one of those places where almost immediately I felt comfortable.”
This past spring, Schergen was a leader for the first time. It was a different experience from being just a participant because he got to see how much work was put into planning the trip along with booking the sites. By leading a trip, Schergen said it was still a great experience.
“I felt like I was part of the group, not just someone who went on the trips,” Schergen said. “It was a big mental change for what it meant for me to be on that trip.”
Even though Schergen has been on multiple trips, each time he makes the 16 hour drive down to New Orleans, Schergen takes something back with him. In the last trip, which happened over spring break, Schergen said he wanted to bring the attitude he had on the trip back to Marquette’s campus.
“After this most recent spring break trip, I just decided I want to be the person I am on Mardi Gras all the time,” Schergen said. “There’s a saying within the group that ‘you’re the best you you can be on a Mardi Gras trip,’ and I think that’s 100 percent true.”
Because of the positive experience with the trip, Schergen has gotten a tattoo of the Mardi Gras logo inside of the Greek letter delta, which is the sign for change. He got the tattoo because it symbolizes the change not only in New Orleans because of the service group’s work, but also because of the change it made in him.
“No matter what happens nothing can ever take away the good memories that I have of Mardi Gras,” Schergen said. “Even if I go and it’s a crappy trip, nothing can ever erase the fact that I had some of the greatest, most unbelievable times of my life on my Mardi Gras trips.”
Mardi Gras has been some of the best experiences in his life and Schergen said he will continue going down to New Orleans, and eventually wants to live down in Louisiana. Schergen said he loves the city and the people that live there.
“I just can’t stop myself from coming back,” Schergen said.