Meet Samantha, former IPS student who decided to “Go forth and set the world on fire (St. Ignatius).
1.) Samantha, tell us a little bit about yourself (where you are from, undergrad, previous work).
I was technically born in southern California, outside of LA, but I grew up in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. There are pieces of my life and personality strewn across every part of this country it seems from moving so much. So, when asked, “Where are you from?” or “where is home?” I have no idea how to answer that question. Sometimes my heart skips a beat when I fly home to Philadelphia see the, “Welcome to Philadelphia. Home of the Philadelphia Eagles,” sign at Philadelphia International. When I lived on the East Coast or even in Chicago, I found myself craving the mountains, the intoxicating smell of the ancient Redwoods, and the chill of the Pacific Ocean.
I earned my bachelor’s at a small, liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. I studied English, theater, and art history. Passionate about the Arts, I was determined to be a writer and desired to work in theater that spoke to the injustices of the world. My career took me on a vastly different journey than what I originally conceived for myself as a twenty-something. I taught ESL in the Czech Republic, worked in an after-school program in Philadelphia, served the homeless population in Philadelphia, provided direct support to those in the disability community in San Francisco, and ran a literacy program for immigrant families in Chicago. While at IPS, I did CPE at Rush Memorial Hospital, Contextual Education at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Human Dignity and Solidarity, and worked the American Library Association. In between all of that, I did freelance writing and even taught a few acting classes here and there.
2.) You just graduated from IPS what was your major?
I earned a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Social Justice.
3.) What made you choose that path?
While in San Francisco, I was working with aging adults with developmental disabilities. Learning about gerontology and the aging process, particularly as it connected with the clientele I was serving, I became fascinated with how the brain works and decided to study psychology. I earned a Master’s of Science in psychology and was discerning doctorate programs in clinical psychology, when my spiritual director at St. Ignatius parish in San Francisco asked me, “Samantha, have you ever thought of an M.Div.?”
After that spiritual direction session, I went home and entered into Google, “M.Div. social justice. Jesuit” and Loyola’s dual program popped up. Reading about the program, it became very clear to me that this was the path that I had been craving my entire life.
4.) You are currently in Seattle doing some amazing things. Where are you working and what is your job?
I currently work as the Justice Educator for Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle, WA.
First, I facilitate our Justice Café program geared towards young adults in their 20s and 30s to build community, deepen spirituality, and act for justice. I create host kits that go out to the café “hosts” or leader of the group ( campus minister, young adult minister, volunteer in intentional community, etc.) to lead a gathering in café, pub, coffee shop to talk about social justice concerns. This fall, we covered Root Causes of Migration and the Feminization of poverty.
Second, I am also the editor of our quarterly publication called A Matter of Spirit which combines critical analysis, theological reflection, and action on justice issues. Our most recent issue tackles the complexities of childhood today under the backdrop of pervasive violence.
Third, I give presentations, talks, and webinars for parishes and schools on human trafficking.
Additionally, I support our organization through advocacy efforts and collaborate with members from partnering organizations and ministries on an array of social justice issues.
5.) How is the knowledge you gained during your time at IPS helping you in your job?
Much of what I have learned at IPS has been very helpful in the work I do.
With collaborative efforts, having practical knowledge from some of my assignments has really paid off. For example, I took the Religious Education Class with timone davis and she had us create a nine-month plan for a ministry. I just sent that project off to the Director of Young Adult Ministries for the Archdiocese of Seattle to review for programming ideas for YA ministry. Other times, I need to write, lead, or create a prayer reflection and I have had to that for several past classes. Our use of technology and presentations at IPS developed a very necessary skill set for the work I do. I lead editorial board meetings in which some of our members are remote and having had the hybrid learning experience from IPS, I can easily navigate my way around the digital communication piece. Whenever I assemble host kits for our Justice Cafes, I am constantly recalling things I learned from the Catholic social ethics course with Peter Jones or Global Economics and Politics with Dan Rhodes.
Other little surprises that have popped up for me has been in networking. One day I might be writing an email and it could be to a former IPS graduate or someone from Catholic Worker, L ’Arche, JVC, etc. and I get the privilege of asking, “do you know x person, we studied together.” Also, Jesuits West is one of our sponsoring communities and I am never far away from those Jesuit roots!