Charles Aviles of the Bronx, New York, is working toward his AA degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Catholic Studies while working as the director of life safety, fire safety, and emergency management for Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, which has experienced significant loss of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lincoln Hospital serves one of the poorest communities in the USA and has the third busiest emergency room in the nation. Charles served as the incident commander during the pandemic, working in the command center, and was then infected with COVID-19 and out of work for 15 days. Upon returning to work, he headed the Mass Fatality Program, where he tried to handle all of the decedents in a dignified manner during very difficult circumstances.
Charles has been married for 30 years and has four children. He has completed 11 courses in just over 2 years. Charles’ path to Theology began when he took catechist courses through the Archdiocese of New York after learning about CDU on the archdiocesan website. “I have ministered for the confirmation class, RCIA, and a Bible study in my parish,” he says. Currently 53 years old, he will be eligible for retirement in 5 years as a NYC worker. “My goal is to earn my Master’s degree by the time I retire and then work for the Archdiocese of New York in some capacity, hopefully teaching theology,” he says. Charles would also like to join the diaconate program at some point.
“CDU has been an incredible blessing for me,” he says. “The flexible programs have allowed me to manage a very high level position in the hospital with an enormous amount of responsibility. I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a tier 1 classification. My position is very challenging; being a city hospital we are terribly underfunded and understaffed. I work long hours and 6-7 days a week, sometimes 16 hour days because of staff shortages. It would be impossible for me to earn a degree in a classroom environment.”