Two years ago I began the graduate social justice program at Marygrove College with the belief that social justice is simply the balance between power and inaction. I'm still convinced of that, but now the breadth and depth of my knowledge of relative social justice issues is so expansive I have greater context to support my argument. I am immensely grateful for the experience.
The path to my social justice master's was not always smooth or without detours, but one that brought joy nonetheless. After a series of marathon weekends, much storming as a group, and little norming (cliques can be a wonderful thing), a few births, a sad death, and a helluva lot of papers, it is over.
I am both elated about my courses being completed and a little sad that are over. I really enjoyed the content of the weekend sessions. I have been on a journey that has been transformational. I am a better global citizen as a result, and know that there are 20 other like-minded individuals with similar perspective and passion.
During the journey I became a huge fan of Harvard professor John Rawls. His theory of justice as fairness really helped expand my consciousness ("what's just isn't necessarily fair"). In fact, I never thought I'd find myself diving into social justice philosophy. But thanks to George Alcser and David Bullock, I have developed a considerable interest in the subject.
Likewise with the study of economic structures, thanks to a nun from Minnesota who also happens to be a world-class economist. I have a passion for anti-poverty work, and am better armed to think strategically about solutions thanks the knowledge of global economics I now have. Huge shout-out to Sister Amata Miller!
Ka and Heather, the American University professors who came in and helped me better form a national perspective, are among my favorites (that's why they get the one-name star treatment). They introduced me to bell hooks, and also helped me think about what my passion is, and at which level I'll ultimately insert myself into the solution matrix. I also liked the way they managed the classroom -- though I have had enough "fishbowl" exercises now to last a lifetime.
Diane McMillan brought wonderful expertise relative to local and statewide politics. She even helped me learn more about the politics and community issues at play in my own community, which I wouldn't have believed possible. She has my appreciation for that.
Brenda Bryant and Elena Herrada not only provided leadership throughout, but friendship as well. Brenda has a unique gift for academic leadership. She's an academic, but incredibly adept at relating to everyone in a very personal manner. I learned to appreciate Paulo Friere because of her, and I am richer for that. She is the program.
As for my fellow cohort members, I look forward to seeing how all of them end up working on their passions. I'm ready to help any of them when called. I must say that I deeply regret the passing of Dominick Gricius. He brought such passion (and the lone conservative viewpoint) to our cohort. He wanted to teach social justice after graduation, and I believe he would have inspired many young people to do great things. Dominick, you are missed.
I look forward to celebrating out graduation with them later summer as well! Announcement on that to come.