To me, engaged citizenship from an Ignatian context means becoming informed about what is going on in the world around you, taking action to improve the quality of life for people who are on the margins, and reflecting on that action.
Many students have shown me different ways to be engaged citizens. Since I’m in the Sociology Department, most of the examples of engaged citizens I have come from our majors. Cassie Tomkins, who graduated last year, is working with young girls through Jesuit Volunteer Corps in a struggling neighborhood in Chicago. In the midst of this, she is actively making connections between classes she had at SJU and reflecting on her experiences.
Esteban Valencia has tirelessly worked for the last two years to organize a weekly service group of students to go to Graterford State Prison for a book group with men who are incarcerated, connecting his learning from criminal justice classes with experiences outside the classroom.
Michaela McGlynn worked with a social-service agency as a Summer Scholar to conduct a community-engaged research study to explore how well their conflict resolution tactics were working with teens who had been arrested.
Three years ago, I invited union organizers to a class to talk to students about the role of organized labor for service workers. The organizers offered the opportunity for training to the class, and out of 40 students, one, Felicia Carter (a Political Science major), took up the call. She ended up working as an intern and a volunteer with the union, helping to organize low-wage workers in Philadelphia. She has continued her work as an engaged citizen with the advocacy group, NETWORK, after graduating last year.
These students and so many others truly live out the mission of SJU.
Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology