Where We Are Now (Letters)
Written by Graduates of the Social Responsibility Program
After graduating with my SR degree I moved with my partner to Eugene, OR so he could attend the U of O for a Master's degree. I found employment with the Lane County D.A.'s Office as a family violence advocate/coordinator for their Victim Services Program. There I coordinated services to roughly 500 victims of domestic violence each year, working within the criminal justice system to try to address this huge social problem. After about 2 1/2 years that were challenging and often stressful, I went back to school for a Not-for-Profit Management graduate certificate. I was finding it difficult to find jobs that would move me beyond my direct service role without practical skills such as grant writing and management. Along with my classes, I completed an internship with an environmental research collaboration based at the U of O. This internship allowed me to further skills in grant research and writing and strategic planning as well as work on exciting projects such as sustainable business and job development.
I am currently seeking employment in the Charlottesville, VA area as my partner works on his Ph.D. The job market is difficult but I hope to find nonprofit work that is relevant to me soon. I am interested in continuing work on sustainability issues but I would be happy working in any position that addresses social and/or environmental problems. The main thing that the SR Master's instilled in me is the desire to do work that somehow leaves the world a bit better.
The comparison of human oppression and animal oppression in the Social Responsibility program compelled me to be an animal rights advocate. When I learned about animal rights in the program, it profoundly affected my view toward animals. Things done to animals are reflections of human relations---how we connect to other people, to the environment, to other living things---and ultimately to ourselves. It helped me to raise my level of consciousness and expand my circle of compassion to all lives. And I love to help others to do the same. Non-human animals are no longer the lesser species that can be treated in horrible ways as sources of food, clothes, and entertainment for humans, but as beings who are innocent as they are, who are beautiful, and whose lives and wellness are to be respected.
Currently, I work at the East End Food Co-op in Pittsburgh, which has a vegetarian cafe and sells organic and many vegan & vegetarian products. I am a cashier, and I love meeting and talking with cool employees and customers there. I also started an animal rights group. It is called "Integral Humane Outreach Group." The group is not yet very organized since I probably will be moving to a different state within a month or two. I spend time for leafleting brochures about animal rights and a plant-based diet. I work with Vegan Outreach and the Christian Vegetarian Association. I handed out about 4,000 brochures in the last three months in PA. I've also been translating English documents into Japanese for Vegan Outreach and a Japanese Vegetarian Organization.
Personally, I feel the time I have spent in the program at SCSU is beneficial and important step in my life. Social Responsibility program at SCSU has refined my thinking and direction for my future professional career. I strongly believe the program provides a unique opportunity for students to have a broad perspective and critical thinking of different factors related to social and environmental justice issues among others. We as individuals we contribute in one way or another for the suffering of others or making the world the better place, depending on choices we make. Social Responsibility program among other discourses help students understand their positions as well as local, regional or international institution responsibilities.
I am glad that I had an opportunity to pursue dual program at SCSU in Social Responsibility and Environmental and Technological Studies. These two programs helped me decide what program I have to pursue for my doctorate studies. I am now at the University of Michigan enrolled in the School of Natural Resources and Environment. I arrived here in early September and my area of specialization is Environmental Justices and Sustainability issues. I thank Professor Julie Andrzejewski who has been my mentor and my advisor in the program. Her guidance and support have instrumental for my accomplishment at SCSU. I thank the faculty in the program, friends, and colleagues in the program, the College of Education community for all the support they have extended to me throughout the entire period of my studies at SCSU. I feel privileged to be in the program and to be part SCSU community that has been very supportive.
Thank you all,
I am currently working full time at Metro Transit as a float ( I fill in wherever they need me) in their Finance Department. Metro Transit is part of the Metropolitan Council. I am also working part-time at the Anoka-Ramsey Community College as an Adjunct faculty member. I am teaching a night General Sociology Course as part of their off-campus course offerings (College on Your Corner). I am also a member of the Multicultural Committee at Edgewood Elementary in Brooklyn Park (with Shana Olagbaju-who is the Cultural Liaison at Edgewood Elementary). I am also a member of the Social Justice Committee at the Church of St. Gerard in Brooklyn Park. As a member of this committee, I also belong to Sowers of Justice and ISAIAH. I am still the leader of my daughter, Kassandra’s, Girl Scout Troop. My children keep me very busy. My son, Kameron, is part of the Talented and Gifted Program. He is also finishing his football season and will start basketball soon. My daughter, Kassandra, is in the school orchestra, played softball this last summer and will be starting basketball soon. Last August (2004) my husband, Sam’s, brother’s three children came to live with us. They were in the Liberian Refugee Camp in Ghana for four years. Two boys, Sam and Presley, both seventeen and Mimi who just turned nineteen. All three are in high school at Osseo Senior High School. We have been busy the last year preparing them for life here. We started them in high school as soon as they came to live with us. They are all currently in the 11th grade. The one boy, Presley, has quite of bit of special needs (he qualified for some special education services to help him learn life skills. So we are hopeful that he will be able to become self supportive. So, that is what I have been doing.
I am doing really well. I am happy that the Social Responsibility Program is doing well. I was
confident the program would make an impact on others. My wife and I now have a baby girl. She was born on 10/18/05 at 7:05 p.m. at the present time I am employed with Hennepin County Community Corrections, Intensive Supervised Release. Basically I am a parole officer. My job intersect with Social Responsibility well. Some people my have a difficult time believing that because they do not understand and/or do not want to understand what a parole officer does. I hear, read and see bad things while working with the parole population. At times I have to send clients back to the institution. But as a parole officer I encourage/promote prosaically thinking which I believe helps them with social change and peace in there communities. I also work with victims, parents and teachers. The goal is to have all clients’ transition back into the community positively.
I am still here at Hampton University working as a counselor with TRIO Programs, specifically Educational Talent Search. I have been here for four years now!! Well a little bit of what I do aside from academic counselor is educating the students about healthy eating habits, oh yeah my co workers too! I am still a vegan and so some of the things that I eat around the students especially when we take them on a trip are leads to intensive conversations. They all want to know why I am not eating at the fast food etc. I usually bring my on food and share some with them!! If we are on a week long trip I find a health food store and shop. Some of the students get excited about trying something new. I have also developed healthy eating menus for people here on the campus but I really don't think they tried anything! I got the faculty and staff dinning hall to get some soy milk, I am currently working on soy yogurt! I talked to everyone about alternative health, eating whenever I get a chance. I guess healthy eating and alternative medicine are to two biggest issues that come up here in the south! So when I have time to educate, I do!!
For my daughter, I prepare all of her food and send it to school with her! I had to educate the staff as to why she eats the way she eats! She doesn't eat candy either and so doing those times, other kids B-days etc I send her an alternative sweet!! I can say that I have a very healthy child with little to no major health problems. She has never had anything pass a fever or cough and cold. She is doing well and very smart I might add!! I thank God for all of his Blessings too!!! Thanks Julie for staying in touch! We, me and my daughter plan to be up that way in the summer! I will come by for a visit!!
I am so happy to report that Social Responsibility has brought me across the country to work on the front
lines to fight for disability rights. I also worked with battered women for a few years. But, what makes
me the happiest is that SR has brought me, home. I am an adjunct professor in the Department of Human
Relations and Multi-Cultural Education, at St. Cloud State. I am so proud to be teaching Disability Rights.
I know that my work is making a huge impact on students, and thus, it does change the world.
As a doctorial student, I see my fellow student struggling with the issues of oppression. Happily,
this has been an issue on my academic plate for many years, I am finding my doctorial work to be enhanced
by the work I did for my Master's. My writing ability was dramatically improved. So much so that one of my profs asked me to publish a paper I wrote for his class. This is a huge turn around from when I began in
SR. I recommend SR to everyone I can. After all my travels and experiences, the good the bad and the ugly. I can truly say... There really is no place like home.
The Social Responsibility Program provided a truly unique and life changing experience. The faculty, fellow students and guest educators were amazing, providing the insight necessary to see our world from a global perspective. The personal growth gained from the SR program was immeasurable. This Masters degree challenged my way of life in a manner that commands respect and dignity for all living beings. The way you view the world and the people and animals within it will be forever changed.
My professional growth as an educator has also flourished. I am now able to provide my students with a knowledge base sensitive to all world citizens. My lessons speak about the global community and illustrate how students can take an active role in its improvement for all. The Social Responsibility Program has made a significant impact on my life and the lives of those around me. I will treasure this degree forever. The SR Program, my fellow graduates and the SR faculty, unquestionably and daily, are making this world a better place. Are you ready for the challenge?
Joy Davis, 2002 Graduate, Spanish Teacher at High School level
After graduation with the Social Responsibility Master's degree in 1999, I did fulltime volunteer work that lead me to an education and career as a Physician Assistant. My role as a PA, a “mid-level provider,” naturally places me between the interests of the patients I serve and the doctors and administrators on our health care team. PAs are trained to maintain an advocacy role for our patients- a role that idealistically drew me to medicine in the first place and was reinforced by the knowledge I gained in the SR program.
I recall the social theory I learned as well as the history of social change we discussed in class as I work now to be an effective agent of change for patients' rights from within the health care system that employs me. I feel like the SR program has made me a much more rounded person intellectually, helping me to more effectively work on a health care team and appreciate of the struggles the patients we serve.
One experience that comes to mind is a young man whom I met when he was brought to the ER by the Chicago police for suturing. He was a gang member well known by the police who had detained him (in a struggle) as a murder suspect and he was on his way to jail. He was agitated, angry and scared- not a patient I wanted to be near with a needle! In attempts to calm him down, I spoke with him while 3 police officers stood by. The young man told me that prior to being arrested he was watching PBS- a show about hyenas. He told me that he could understand those hyenas because they are just like his “brothers in the hood- just tryin' to protect their territory.” Seeing this as an opportunity to learn more about his lifestyle and continue to distract him, I encouraged him to explain more about the hyenas and he eventually drew a comparison between the hyenas and the U.S. government's role in colonialism (though he didn't use those words) and we talked further about the current war in the middle east and when it came down to it the hyenas, Christopher Columbus, and our current political leaders and scared and confused. His sutures done, the police whisked him away- a little annoyed I had taken time to talk to their prisoner. His insight was eye-opening to me and inspiring of my times in class discussing theories and ideas but this was not class- this was real. His life had afforded him no such luxuries as a university classroom but we could relate to each other solely based on an appreciation for the struggle to maintain an understanding for of this world.
Tonya Faundeen - graduated in 1999
Currently working as a Physician's Assistant.
Hi. My name is John Hamerlinck. I believe that if you check the records you will find that I was actually the first graduate of the Social Responsibility program. With a B.A. in American Studies and a M.S. in Social Responsibility, my first job after graduation was as a Senior Planner with the State of Minnesota 's Office of Technology. I did work in community development, trying to help local communities to better use information technology to provide information and services to residents. When the Ventura administration decided to eliminate all the people-focused work of the agency (telemedicine, the arts, community development) I was out of a job.
After my stint with the state I have worked exclusively in the nonprofit sector as a consultant, project manager and finally ended up in the philanthropic sector first as field staff and then program officer for foundations. I am presently Program Officer at the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. My work involves using the principles of Asset-Based Community Development to help communities (towns as well as communities of interest) achieve their goals. I work with nonprofit agencies, citizen groups, local governments and others to give people choices regarding their future. My work involves facilitation, reviewing grant proposals, training and basic community organizing. The issues are internally focused depending on the community. Therefore, I work on everything from diversity issues like refugee resettlement and institutional racism to projects to promote civil discourse of local issues and broaden citizen participation.
In my work I frequently have the opportunity to present progressive ideas to groups who might not otherwise have access to information outside of a mainstream perspective. I believe that the philanthropic sector offers wonderful opportunities for progressive thinkers to “practice what they preach.” It also, however, truly underscores the importance of working simultaneously form both the inside and the outside to affect transformative change in communities. If I can convince an economic development professional that smokestack-chasing and big-box-courting has less to do with community economic development than buying form small, locally-owned businesses than I can do something that hours of marching with a sign in my hand could not. Don't get me wrong, I encourage everyone to hit the streets when so compelled. In fact, I'll leave you with my personal theory of engagement. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but no one should have the right to keep that opinion to themselves. We will never be able to make informed choices as a society until we have some real choices from which to choose. Real choice requires a voice for every idea.
John Hamerlinck - graduated 1997
Currently working as Program Officer for the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.
I am an Academic Coordinator for TRIO, which is in the Student Support Services area at the St. Cloud Technical College . TRIO is a federally funded program offering academic assistance to first generation college students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. I serve about one hundred students. Our program serves approximately 175. We do many things, but mostly we are a resource for students who need assistance to be successful (determined by the student). The degree in social responsibility equipped me with the skills required to help the students I serve. Many students that I serve are low-income students and I feel that I have a real understanding and background to assist students by understanding the root causes of poverty. We encourage the students to attend cultural events and also have workshops that have cultural themes. The social responsibility program was instrumental in providing me with the information and skills to present and teach in these areas. The writing and research background was extremely helpful when doing grant writing for the program. Most importantly, I had wonderful mentors in the program that have demonstrated skills and abilities that I myself try to aspire to. My goal in life was to make a living while making a difference. Due in large part to the social responsibility program, I am privileged to make a difference in the everyday lives of students.
Jennifer Kraipovich, 2001 Graduate, Academic Coordinator, TRIO, Tech College
Hello to all of you that are zealously working to make the world a better place! I graduated from the Social Responsibility program last December and have since then moved to Ames , IA. I currently work at Iowa State University as a Program Assistant in the Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention program. I have had the opportunity to be involved in the ISU Sexual Assault Task Force, Ames Tobacco Task Force, and the Substance Abuse Prevention Committee. I also help create various programs and activities for students on campus. One program that I am working on involves collaborating with different departments on campus to create programs for First Year Students of Color. Recently, I was asked to advise the Special Events Committee for the student run spring festival, VEISHA which is in its 82 nd year. I also co-advise a student organization called ISU AfterDark, which provides entertaining late night alcohol-free activities for students on the weekends. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to co-teach a Psychology 131 class, which is an academic success class for students.
I have been able to incorporate what I have learned from the Social Responsibility program into the work that I am doing in various ways. We use social norms at our university, which seeks to inform students about the true campus norms rather than allowing students to believe incorrect assumptions. Campuses are increasingly using this approach to promote healthy behaviors when it comes to alcohol, other drugs, sexual assault, social justice and a variety of other topics. My role on the Sexual Assault Task Force enables me to utilize the knowledge and skills I acquired both in my Sexual Assault Advocacy class and my work at the Women's Center. I am able to continue working on women's issues through collaborating with the ISU Women's Center on various projects that address violence and women. Another way in which I incorporate what I have learned from the SR program is through volunteering in the community. I am currently volunteering at a non-profit fair-trade store called Worldly Goods that specializes in handcrafts of low-income artisans from developing areas around the world.
The Social Responsibility program has given me insight and knowledge about various issues that I continue to use in my job and in conversations with people I work with. Through organizing events on the SCSU campus, I gained skills that I am now able to use in my current job. The SR program has influenced and inspired me to get involved in social justice issues and to use what I have learned in my everyday life, as I am sure it has done the same for many of you! Some of you may be graduating soon; I encourage you to get involved on campus and in the community. The skills and experience you obtain will help prepare you for what is to come. You will meet amazing and inspiring people along the way and you will truly make a difference in the world!
Social Responsibility graduate
Kerri Roesner - graduated in 2002 Currently working as a Program Assistant in the Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention at Iowa State University .