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Graduate Program: Theology
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: Luther College
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: United Community Center, St. Joan Antida School
Lutheran Volunteer Corps, 2011-12, Berkeley, CA
Through Lutheran Volunteer Corps, I was placed at East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, CA where I worked in housing law, which included public housing/section 8, tenants’ rights, and eviction defense. Often assigned to intake, I received many calls and visits from folks who were facing challenges or crises around their housing. I also had the privilege of working with clients represented by our center on eviction defense cases and public housing hearings, as well as meeting one-on-one with clients at our weekly tenants’ rights workshops to answer questions and offer legal advice under the supervision of our attorneys.
I came to Trinity with an interest in exploring connections between faith and social justice. The questions I brought to both the classroom and my placement included the following: How does religious faith, as both a system and personal conviction, inspire and liberate, as well as threaten and oppress? How do we engage activism from a place of connection and spirituality? How do social movements and theories inform our theological and ethical frameworks? In Trinity, I had opportunities to engage these questions through the practical work in my placement, as well as in the classroom.
My first year, I was placed at United Community Center, an organization that provides a variety of social services and programs to south side Milwaukee residents. I worked on youth programming and developed skills in volunteer management and marketing. My second year, I transitioned to St. Joan Antida High School, where I taught two theology courses and developed curriculum. I quickly found that to be a successful teacher in a challenging environment, it was essential to build a strong classroom community, engage relevant issues and current events, create a safe space for learning, and incorporate the wisdom of students’ lived experiences.
At Marquette, I have pursued interests in liberationist theology and ethics, and my research has included queer theology and ethics, critical gender theory, and womanist/feminist thought. Although the Marquette theology department is largely classical in its approach, I was supported in my research and interests and was even able to design an independent study in LGBTQ Theology and Ethics during my second year. The mentorship and support I received in the theology department was outstanding.
Overall, my experience as a Trinity fellow helped me create connections among my varying skills and interests. I have a better sense of my own strengths and weaknesses, which were illuminated through various challenges, struggles, and successes. Trinity created a productive and imaginative space for learning and growing, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity.
Rachel is teaching Spanish part-time at St. Joan Antida High School and holds a part-time advocate position at Sojourner Peace Center.
Carole Ferrara, Director
Carolyn Swabek, Assistant Director
Peggy Mead, Program Assistant
1250 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (800) 222-6544
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