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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.
Advocate, Sojourner Family Peace Center
Carolyn Swabek, Director
Alisha Klapps Balistreri, Assistant Director
Peggy Mead, Program Assistant
1250 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (800) 222-6544
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