Students work to solve social justice issues

By Andrew Stettler
February 12, 2009

Shannon Keough

Studies show that this year, more than ever, college students are involved in working to solve social, political and world issues. Many Cabrini students over the past year have exemplified this trend through both academic and personal projects.

Bridget Flynn, senior special education and elementary education major, spent this past summer in Ethiopia with Catholic Relief Services as part of the Nike Foundation’s girl’s empowerment program.

“Nike believes that true development will only begin to take root in these countries if they give the most powerful tool, education, to its hardest workers,” Flynn said.

One way to combat HIV/AIDS is to find a way for the Ethiopian population to afford the medicines need for survival. By empowering women with a consistent income, the Nike Foundation is solving the problem.

“The girls, it seems, are easy to empower, especially the younger ones. And, of course, in turn they empowered me way more than I could have ever empowered them,” Flynn said.

Three Cabrini communication students have also taken a major role in combating HIV/AIDS. Megan Pellegrino, Kara Schneider and Jillian Smith, creators of the national award-winning audio documentary “Our Hands are not Tied” have spread the message that “Africa is not a black hole of problems” and that solutions are being made to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

OHANT is just one of the many pieces featured on the newest Cabrini communication department’s convergence Web site.

This Web site, through convergence, brings together all forms of media including audio, video, photography and creative writing displaying original work created by the class.

Where Cabrini convergence Web sites in the past have centered around war and activism, this year’s Web site has been rumored to center around working for crisis solution.

However, the Cabrini communication department is not the only major taking the intuitive to solve social justice issues. Several professors have encouraged their students to work on projects aimed toward the common good.

Last year, Ann Servey, associate professor of accounting, took Cabrini graduate Chris Sweeney ’08 to visit the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Swaziland in order to set up an appropriate accounting system for the St. Philip’s Mission.

Dr. Ruby Remley, associate professor of business administration, had her students spend an entire semester studying coffee distribution.

The class researched the ways coffee moves from the farm to the consumer and influenced the “faculty’s fair trade coffee initiative.”

With so many Cabrini faculty members working to solve social, political and world issues, it is no wonder why so many students have ultimately chosen to put their skills and efforts toward a common good.

Next year the college will begin a new core curriculum entitled “Education for the Common Good.”

This is a four-year program, in which incoming freshmen will learn about social justice issues and over the next four years, find their voice by learning ways in which they can solve community and international problems.

When readers come to understand the initiative of the youth and their projects they are able to educate themselves and form their own opinions.

However, achievement comes from the ground up. In educating the nation’s youth, the country is taking its first baby steps by nurturing them so that in the future those small steps will influence the entire nation.

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Andrew Stettler

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