Public Service Profiles

Meet the Public Service graduate alumni. Read below to learn about their education experience and service as a Trinity Fellow at Marquette University. 

Elizabeth Castellano


Trinity Fellows Class of 2020
Graduate Program: Public Service - Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Bachelor of Arts, John Carroll University, 2011
Full-time Service Organization, Years Served, Location: Rostro de Cristo, 2011-2012, Guayaquil, Ecuador

More about Elizabeth

Describe Your Service Experience
I felt called to serve in Ecuador upon completing undergrad because of my deep belief that we all make up the human family. I believe we each come from the same creator, who I call God. I see myself in those suffering and am outraged by the injustices and structures that exist and perpetuate such divides. I could have been born in a developing country, but I was born into the shoes of privilege. I deeply believe that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ which is why I decided to serve in Ecuador.

For my service experience in Ecuador, I lived in intentional Christian community with other volunteers. We lived in solidarity with our Ecuadorian neighbors. I had two work placements- morning and afternoon. I worked at Damien House in the morning, a shelter for people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). In the afternoon, I ran an afterschool program for children living on a landfill. This year was a very challenging experience but extremely life giving. Changed my life.

I felt called to apply to the Trinity Fellows Program for several reasons. I was attracted to the Jesuit education Marquette could offer and was interested to live and work in the Milwaukee community. I was most interested in the emphasis the program places on social and economic justice. I wanted to be among emerging leaders with whom I could learn and grow and grapple with questions of injustice and brainstorm and workshop sustainable solutions. This program was 100% the right fit for me. My cup runneth over with the gratitude I have for Trinity and my cohort.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
The Trinity Fellows Program has helped me grow in many ways. Upon graduating, I am confident that I am better equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to more holistically and strategically approach challenges and opportunities along the journey to achieve social and economic justice for all across society. The Trinity Fellows Program provided me with access to professors, community leaders, my cohort and my placement where I could gain real-life experiences in the field. The Trinity Fellows Program provided me with space to brainstorm and dream of a different world and to put into practice co-developed ideas and solutions.

I absolutely loved Milwaukee, To me, it is a very accessible and easy to manage sized city. That being said, it is easy to spot the problems and challenges, but it also feels possible to map solutions onto them when working in collaboration with the community and with others. Furthermore, I felt empowered by using the public bus throughout the downtown areas and I enjoyed all the outdoor opportunities and festivities in the summertime.

Some highlights- Dr. Jen Fenton, feeling supported by Trinity Administration, feeling the love, support and friendship in my cohort, discovering the city of Milwaukee, Summerfest, the lake, space self-discovery, opportunities to gain self-confidence, space for difficult conversations and being taken out of my comfort zone, space to be me and learn.

The Fellows provided me with an invaluable sense of community and belonging, as I arrived to a city and school where I knew no one. The Trinity Fellows community is a group of students, alumni and partners that care about the long-term social justice advancements in Milwaukee- there is a lot of support and opportunity to partner and achieve dreams together among them.

Plans After Graduation
Ultimately, I would like to one day run a nonprofit (NOT create my own nonprofit). As I move up that ladder, I’d like to get involved in work around voter engagement and activation opportunities, especially within community-based organizations and nonprofits.

This education is a gift I will cherish forever. It will open doors for me and provide me with many opportunities in my future. With the gift of this education and experience also comes a tremendous responsibility to share and give back to my community. Fortune and privilege do not even begin to scratch the surface of how I feel Trinity has so well positioned me, but I vow to continue to live my life to partner with community and co-develop sustainable solutions for equity and justice. Democracy means the government is made by and made FOR the people. Let’s do this!!

Kayla Gonzalez

Trinity Fellows Class of 2020
Graduate Program: Public Service - Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Maryland, B.S. Biology/Psychology Interdisciplinary
Full-time Service Organization, Years Served, Location: Peace Corps Liberia, 2016-2018

More about Kayla

Describe Your Service Experience
I was inspired to serve in the Peace Corps because I was looking fully invest into a community completely different from my own. I wanted to learn from a new culture, share my own, and most importantly use my gifts and resources to help empower and improve the quality of life of those around the world in any way that I could. Selfishly, I also wanted to learn from the gifts and talents from those around the world that I would not have been able to meet, bond, or interact with otherwise. The mission of Peace Corps as an agency that promotes world peace through friendship resonated with me immensely, inspiring me to apply and serve.

I believe that the Trinity Fellows Program is similar to the Peace Corps in that it values authentic and equitable relationship and community building in order to promote peace and understanding, particularly in Milwaukee. I left the Peace Corps to better understand the issues facing my own community in Milwaukee and felt that I needed to grow in more tactical leadership skills, particularly if I was going to pursue social justice work in the US. Trinity was a perfect place to pick up from in my transition back to the states because of their similar mission to the Peace Corps, and their willingness to invest in my capacity to become a leader, even when I did not see the potential and capacity within myself (especially during a hard abroad to US transition!). In my search for a graduate program, I wanted to make sure that I would be able to carry my passion of social justice work in Liberia over to issues I cared about in Milwaukee. I needed the support and loving push to take risks in my own hometown, just as I had abroad during my service. I believe that Trinity was the perfect challenge and support that I needed in order to see my own true potential as a leader and asset to the Nonprofit Sector.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
Trinity Fellows helped me grow by the many professional development opportunities available to me. Because the staff of Trinity intentionally takes the time to develop relationships with each fellow, opportunities were recommended to me that allowed me to see my own potential and leadership in areas that I may not have sought out on my own. The structure of the program, including the placements, also allowed me to continuously sit in spaces that were not of immediate comfort for me, which is a push that I need in order to grow. The support that Trinity gives to their fellows is invaluable.

Working and studying was challenging, but I believe that Trinity sets up the initial relationship with placements well so that Fellows go in with a foundation and understanding of the work/school balance to be expected. For my case, my supervisor was extremely supportive and understanding of what was expected of me as a student, Fellow, and now employee. I think this, in large, had to do with the relationship that the Program developed with my agency before my interactions with them.

Some highlights of my fellowship were the opportunities I had to explore my interests! I learned so much and had many failures and successes along the way. I was able to make professional connections that I know will carry on to my next chapter and have built friendships and an overall amazing community that will stay with me forever.

Being part of the Trinity Fellows Program means that I am part of this incredible network that is dedicated to social justice and doing good in the world in any way that they can. I know that I can reach out to any fellow—present or past—and know that we have an immediate bond and share similar interests. Not everyone has this sense of solidarity and connection with communities that they my come across, and I am forever grateful for that!

Plans After Graduation
I had an amazing experience working at a Foundation. It was actually a placement that I initially turned down, feeling that coming to the Peace Corps I needed to continue grassroots level engagement. I am so happy that I was pushed to this level of work in philanthropy. However, after this experience, I have learned that I do miss more personal and grassroots interaction with people in the community, on the ground. I am craving having a mentoring roll for young people and am hoping to explore organizations that that support and interact with youth in some capacity, dedicated to harnessing their potential. I have been part of many communities that dedicated themselves to harnessing my own potential and am eager to be part of that as I have grown.

Lisa King

Trinity Fellows Class of 2020
Graduate Program: Public Service, Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison. Madison, WI.
Bachelor of Arts - English Literature; Certificate - Environmental Studies
Full-time Service Organization(s) / Professional Nonprofit Experience, Years Served, Location(s): Bayview International Center for Education and the Arts (Bayview Foundation, Inc.), Madison, WI, 2014-2018. Wisconsin Youth Company, Madison, WI, 2012-2014. PASS (Partners for After School Success) AmeriCorps - Vera Court Neighborhood Center, Madison, WI, 2011-2012.

More about Lisa

Describe Your Service Experience
After college, I went abroad to teach English and honestly didn’t know what to do when I returned to the US, so I applied to AmeriCorps on a whim because of my experience teaching youth in summer camp. Through AmeriCorps, I was exposed to the nonprofit sector, youth development and community-based work and realized how rewarding, challenging and fulfilling it could be. Since then, I worked in various nonprofit positions, working my way from after school and summer camp staff to coordinator to manager. Though I loved my work, I was interested in gaining a more structured educational base for the work, which is why I applied to the Trinity Fellows program. Not only was I able to go back to school and study a field that I was already so invested in, but I was able to continue working in and contributing to the community. Having a balance between the fulfillment of education and personal development but also the reminder of the importance and grounding in the community made the fellowship a perfect fit for me.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
The Trinity Fellowship and graduate school experience allowed me to step back from the day to day of nonprofit work and holistically view the field on a systematic and historical level. While I understood these concepts before, this experience allowed me to study, grapple with, discuss and process topics and areas that I otherwise would not have had the time, resources and/or capacity to fully understand on my own.

Plans After Graduation
I will continue to work for my placement site full time as communications and development manager. I look forward to being able to fully invest my time and energy into the organization and hit the ground running because of my experience there over the past year.

Molly O'Brien

Trinity Fellows Class of 2020
Graduate Program: Public Service/Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: B.A, History, B.A. Communication; Loyola University Chicago
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): Peace Corps Jordan (2014-2015), Peace Corps Thailand (2016-2018)

More about Molly

Describe Your Service Experience
I have always been involved in service since a young age and my undergraduate education at a Jesuit university only furthered that. I decided to join the Peace Corps because it was a great opportunity for me to expand my horizons, dive deeply into another culture, and serve in a unique way. I enjoyed Peace Corps service in two different countries with equally amazing people. Thailand is special to me because of my community, my students and especially my host family. I loved being able to work with youth and people within my community and watch as we all grew together.

I decided that I wanted to apply for a graduate program that would enhance my skills and would provide me with a community of like-minded people. The Trinity Fellows program instantly felt right, from the very late-night phone call I had while still in Thailand, learning more about the program. I loved the opportunity to continue to work in the nonprofit field and gain experience in a new area to me while also studying. Best of all was the chance to have a cohort of people to study with, providing me with a community of friends that will last a lifetime.

Describe Your Trinity Fellowship Experience
I have learned so much while in this program – from academics to leadership to understanding nonprofits in the US. As a student, I have had the opportunities to try new things and participate in many activities to help with personal and professional development.

I think that my experience as a Fellow has allowed me to dive more deeply into issues that I have seen firsthand, but perhaps haven’t fully understood the context. I appreciate that I have been able match what I have experienced at my placement with what I am learning in the classroom.

I feel honored to be a part of the Trinity Fellows community. It has been so unique to be surrounded by people who care deeply about social justice issues. Our conversations in and outside of the classroom have been special to me and I am glad that I will always have these friends to come back to. There’s been nothing better than that.  

Plans After Graduation

I am hoping to engage more in work around Cultural Intelligence (QI) or Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. I would love to find a place where I can continue to engage in social justice work, whether it is a nonprofit or otherwise.

Adam Feralio

Trinity Fellows Class of 2019
Graduate Program: Public Service
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Urban Planning, Arizona State University
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): AmeriCorps VISTA, 1 Year, Phoenix, Arizona

More about Adam

Describe Your Service Experience
I served as a Refugee Resettlement Specialist in the East Valley of the Phoenix metro area. My faith — specifically my relationship with Christ — was and continues to be my primary motivation to serve. After graduating from college, I was also searching for work that wasn’t pushing paper or solely profit-motivated. Two weeks after I started my VISTA project, the November 2015 Paris attacks happened, elevating refugee resettlement and the screening process to a national spotlight. During the tumultuous year, I had the opportunity to serve refugees in small ways like finding housing, employers, and sponsors in faith communities to walk alongside them after arrival. In continuing to serve the refugee community after my project, I realized I wasn’t adequately equipped for the work I was doing. I found the Trinity Fellows Program and realized it was a perfect opportunity for me to become more equipped for service. With my urban planning background, I especially was to drawn to the program because of its urban emphasis.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
My Trinity Fellowship has been transformative in a number of ways. I got married during my first semester, so that was by far my biggest and most exciting moment as a fellow! More specific to the fellowship, it unmasked for me my privilege and the injustices that are embedded into the fabric of our society in ways that I had not grasped before. Additionally, prior to Trinity I was much more disposed to do work for those in need, assuming I knew what would be most helpful. My classes and placement at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation dislodged this disposition by teaching me about culturally responsive practices and asset frames, to where I am now more prepared to do work with and at the discretion of individuals and communities who have tremendous strengths yet face challenging circumstances.

Studying and working in Milwaukee has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience. I was fortunate to be part of a Trinity cohort that was head-over-heels about Milwaukee and to work at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, which helped knit my experience to place. Studying and working in Milwaukee reinforced my learning around my privilege, in that my quality of life as a transplant and white person was rather good in a city with large racial and ethnic disparities. In many ways, living these disparities has served as an additional motivator and teacher with regard to pursuing social, economic, and racial justice.

Plans After Graduation
My plans after graduation are to work at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation through October 2019 to support their On the Table MKE initiative. Beyond that, I hope to find work in the realm of public service, whether it is working at a nonprofit, ministry, or within local government.

Jessica Luebbering 

Trinity Fellows Class of 2019
Graduate Program: Master of Arts in Public Service, Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish, Gonzaga University
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): André House of Arizona, August 2015-July 2017, Phoenix, AZ

More about Jessica

Describe Your Service Experience
I was inspired to serve at André House because of a spirit of consolation that I felt when I first found out about the position. It was an amazing experience. The work could be difficult. The days were long. The guests could be challenging. But everyday, I awoke knowing that the work I was going to do that day was incredibly important and that I had the opportunity to bring light and joy into a sometimes dark place. I felt another spirit of consolation when I found out about the Trinity Fellows program. I hadn’t been thinking of going to graduate school, but the combination of the nonprofit work, the graduate studies, and the focus on social justice solidified in my heart and mind the decision to apply.

Describe Your Trinity Fellowship Experience
Trinity has enabled me to learn much about myself and Milwaukee. In addition, the network that I am connected to through the Trinity network, as well as through the network I was connected with through my work at CSNI has helped me feel very involved with good work that is striving to be done in Milwaukee.

Coming to study and work in Milwaukee was challenging at times, but generally good. It’s an interesting city with rich, and also painful, history. But my sense of it is that there are good folks working hard to make Milwaukee a better place for all of its residents.

Some highlights from my experience were attending the Ignatian Family Teach In for Justice through Campus Ministry, Unlearning Racism through the YWCA, and the Marquette Alumni Mentorship Program with a Trinity alumnus as my mentor.
I am honored to be part of the Trinity Fellows community. I feel very connected to my cohort but also feel welcomed by and connected to graduates of the program, as well as excited for to get to know the future Fellows.

Plans After Graduation
After graduation, I will be accepting a role as the Executive Director of Father Gene’s Help Center in Milwaukee. I will apply much of the knowledge I gained in Financial Matters in the Nonprofit Sector, as well as ideas from my other classes. My experiences at CSNI also will be helpful, as I’ve learned more about graphic and website design.

Callie Padway

Trinity Fellows Class of 2019
Graduate Program: Public Service and Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: English with Creative Writing, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s):  AmeriCorps, Boston, 2014-2015.

More about Callie

Describe Your Service Experience
My father taught me that a life worth living is a life lived for others. He spent his life serving as a criminal lawyer and advocating for social justice. In his free time, he empowered youth as both a sports coach and as a mentor. Throughout my childhood, he encouraged me to serve and instilled in me the importance of striving to make the neighborhood, community, city, world, a better place for everyone. When I graduated from undergrad, I was excited for the opportunity to commit to a full year of service, to move somewhere new, all while fostering my own skills and interests. My year with AmeriCorps taught me how to connect with others, how to work as a team to achieve a goal, and persistence when some challenges seemed insurmountable. It also led me to choosing a life of service and continue to serve in my hometown of Milwaukee with Playworks Wisconsin. I choose to apply to the Trinity Fellows Program because I believed it would help me further develop my skills and better serve my community. I was also excited about the opportunity to continue my education while also continuing to serve Milwaukee.

Trinity Fellowship Experience 
I truly enjoyed my Trinity Fellowship Experience. Being able to continue to serve my community in a new capacity with the Milwaukee Public Library, while taking classes, allowed me to learn more about the community itself, about service and leadership, and put what I learned into practice. Through my placement at the library, I was able to help promote the LibraryNow initiative to schools and community organizations. In my two years, I gave over 100 presentations to kids, educators, and school community partners, advocated for policy changes to better the initiative, and helped create an evaluation plan. Overall, the Trinity Fellowship helped me become a better leader and a better community member.

Blake Tierney

Trinity Fellows Class of 2019
Graduate Program: Public Service - Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: BA Psychology, Hendrix College
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): Summer VISTA (2014), AmeriCorps (2014-2015), VISTA Leader (2016-2017) at Our House (Little Rock, Arkansas)

More about Blake

Describe Your Service Experience
Initially, I decided on the Summer VISTA experience because I was unsure my next steps after graduating college and yet I knew that I wanted to work with children. Service itself is in my breath and bones. Since childhood, I knew I wanted to make change in this world and since childhood, I have served. The Summer VISTA experience put faces and stories to the passion behind service. My love for the kids at Our House kept me serving there, which led me to love the families and the team there, which led me to come back as VISTA Leader.

Timing worked out well that I was VISTA Leader, enjoying my time in nonprofit administrative leadership, so I was looking for the next opportunity to continue doing that. Most of the jobs I wanted were asking for a master’s degree. The full tuition coverage, stipend, work experience, and cohort model (this specific one with shared passion across a diversity of experiences) were all appealing to me. It was time for me to move away from Arkansas, to start fresh and reclaim all of who I am in a commitment to social justice. I could have stayed in Little Rock for a Masters in Public Service from the Clinton School, but the cohort model and work experience on top of the adventure of a new city were what made this the right fit.

Trinity Fellows Experience
Surrounded by loving, caring, supportive people, I felt my own power nurtured to advocate and take time to care for myself and try new things. This has been a time of reclaiming all of who I am in all my complexity. I feel more myself, more self-aware, and more willing to be honest about what I want, what I need, how I feel. I have definitely become more passionate about political issues and the everyday choices that contribute to social, economic, and now, for me, environmental justice. I am much more aware of urban issues, what is specific to Milwaukee and what is a shared experience across the country and globe.

Milwaukee is a fitting context for this program. It is teeming with history, past and present. The city is pulsing with new life that makes studies exciting and the work more relevant.

Traveling abroad for the first time. Selected as a top 100 finalist for RAHM Global LGBTI Leadership Contest. Leah Jepson as a boss. Milwaukee Beer Barons rugby team. Dr. Liston as an instructor and the Social Justice and Action course itself. Starting the Family Leader Learning Community with the Coalition. The newsletter with the Coalition. Launching the CCMH website. Attending counseling almost every week out of the 21 months and learning about my mental illnesses and tools to cope with them. The PUBS capstone that I completed for the Coalition. Adam Carr tour(s) of the city. Salsa/bachata dancing. Drag show with rugby team (and most of my cohort showing up to support me). Deep impactful healing friendships.

An honor and a pleasure. Truly, deeply, wholly.

Plans After Graduation
I will be in Milwaukee 1-2 years with the Coalition still. In that time, I’ll continue to play rugby, pursue a certification in Spanish, and start volunteering again with kids. After those 1-2 years, I plan to move to another mid-size city similar to Milwaukee somewhere warmer (Sacramento, Louisville, Nashville).

I will try to infuse the lessons from Trinity Fellows into my everyday livelihood, which will take some reflection and accountability with fellow Fellows. I will continue to pursue nonprofit leadership in a variety of ways. I will also continue writing and brainstorming how I might start my own organization/business/etc.

Charles Porter

Trinity Fellows Class of 2018
Graduate Program: Public Service - Nonprofit Administration
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Bachelors of Business Administration, Western Michigan University 
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): AmeriCorps NCCC, 2013-2014, Pacific Region (based in Sacramento, CA). AmeriCorps VISTA, 2016-2017, Philadelphia.

More about Charles

Describe Your Service Experience
What inspired me to serve was disillusionment with the process of seeking entry level work in the for-profit world combined with a desire to find work that I felt had meaning. As I pursued service opportunities I found a greater sense of purpose, that my work had impact, and appreciated a stronger understanding of the community and the world I lived in.

The Trinity Fellows Program appealed to me for its emphasis on service and community in higher education. I found myself attracted to the prospect of being involved in a community, taking graduate courses on public service and nonprofit management, all while simultaneously applying what I learned hands-on with a local nonprofit organization.

This program was a fit for me because it supported growth and service with a community of diverse backgrounds and experiences dedicated to greater understanding and change. Through the Trinity Fellows Program I felt I was learning and growing not just through my classes and new work experiences, but through my routine interactions with other fellows and staff. The program provides a framework of engagement and development that resonated with what I was seeking: new ways to serve and grow professionally.

Describe Your Trinity Fellowship Experience
The Trinity Fellows helped me grow in many ways. I feel more confident about taking on work in new places, understanding the roots of systemic oppression, why systemic issues persist and how change efforts with good intentions can fall short of providing substantive change, and how persistent barriers can shape and divide communities among many other lessons. Through the Trinity Fellows Program I feel more confident about approaching large-scale issues, researching and understanding contextual solutions, and developing action plans to instigate substantive change.

Milwaukee is an interesting city to live, learn, and work. I found biking around the city to be fun on beautiful sunny days and take in the different landscapes whether it be the beaches, rivers, industrial areas, parks, or other various places to take in and experience.

The city has a plethora of different and fun cafes in which to study and I would recommend Collectivo as a local chain to check out and enjoy. Lake Michigan is also a great place to visit as well as the large parks throughout the city. I’ve greatly enjoyed the warm summer days around the city that when paired with cool breezes from off the lake make for comfortable weather to explore and enjoy adventures around the area.

During the fellowship highlights of my experience include:

  • organizing an Earth Day clean up in the Menomonee Valley
  • completing many long and thorough grant applications with a rich and compelling narrative about my organization’s accomplishments
  • having rich and intellectually challenging discussions with fellow graduate students during and outside of class time
  • Trinity social events
  • Summer volleyball league games at Lake Michigan
  • Trinity Field Trip to Trek Bikes

Being a part of the Trinity Fellows community means having the company and support of compassionate, service-minded individuals that acknowledge your potential and are willing to work alongside you in the pursuit of making the world a better place for everyone.

Plans After Graduation
After graduation I plan on living in Washington, D.C. for a couple of years where I hope to contribute to policy change, support the campaigns of progressive candidates, and aide in the legislative process for implementing policies that better promote sustainability, justice, and equality.

From my Trinity experience I hope to apply a better understanding of what community means to how I approach and understand the issues that impact building and developing a beloved community. Through this experience I have had observed several themes reoccurring including the importance of advocacy and authenticity in creating change. The value of truly listening and lending to legitimacy to the voice of stakeholders on an issue or in an impacted community is imperative to implementing substantive, sustainable change.