Social Justice



Niebuhr Center for Engagement and Reflection


Social Justice

» Meet the 2013–2014 Social Justice Interns

Meet the 2013–2014 Social Justice Interns

Jenna StutzJenna Stutz
Jane Addams Internship for Social Justice

I am a sophomore at Elmhurst College. My major is elementary education with a minor in political science.

My love for teaching began in my hometown, Lemont, Illinois. While growing up, I always knew I wanted to help people and make a difference. I also knew that I wanted to work with children, and soon realized that teaching was my career choice. In recent years I have discovered my growing interest in inner-city schools and the issues they deal with. I have narrowed my focus and my calling to inner-city education, and want to make a difference for children who come from a community that is different from where I grew up.

I am very passionate about education reform and would like to give inner-city children a more beneficial experience. I cannot wait to get into the classroom and start working! With the Jane Addams Internship for Social Justice, I plan to look into the issue of race, poverty and education in Chicago’s inner-city schools. I hope to find out how these factors, and dealing with the Chicago Public Schools system, affect the education of African American students who live near or below the poverty level. With this research I hope to gain a better understanding of the issues at large and gather information for change.  

When I complete my education at Elmhurst College, I also hope to enlighten the campus on these issues so that it will bring about a positive change for the future.


Cora KoehlerCora Koehler
Mahatma Gandhi Intern for Social Justice

This fall is my second year at Elmhurst College. I am pursuing a degree in religious studies and a minor in intercultural studies with a focus in LGBTQ studies. Following my graduation from Elmhurst, I plan to go to seminary so that one day I might become a United Church of Christ minister. As a woman of God, I feel that I have a commitment to the people of God and to the creation of God. I look forward to a life of community organizing, activism and faith.

Over the course of this next year as the Mahatma Gandhi Intern for Social Justice, I will be focusing on ecological justice and climate change from local as well as global perspectives. I look forward to building a movement to fight our planet’s warming fever. Climate change is happening and our very civilization is at risk. The objective is no longer stopping climate change; it is now to keep climate change from becoming a complete and utter calamity.

Climate change is a multifaceted issue that affects every single human being on the plant, and  hits home with all people in some way or another. I will not only research climate change, but I will also develop strategies to make the campus at Elmhurst aware of this issue. I want this internship to be the glue among multiple organizations on campus as well as in the wider Elmhurst community. It is vital to reach out to students across all majors. We need biology majors and religion majors hand in hand. One person, or even a few, cannot fight social justice issues successfully; we need a community of people fighting for a common cause.


Sara HynesSara Hynes
Rosa Parks Intern for Social Justice

I am a junior at Elmhurst College with a major in psychology and minors in communications and Spanish. I am a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in psychology, and in the past year I have started an Active Minds Chapter at Elmhurst College, dedicated to eliminating the social stigma that surrounds mental illness. I have also participated in an internship at NAMI-GC (The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Chicago), as well as a second internship at Breakthrough Urban Ministries Women’s Shelter. I am looking forward to using all of these experiences to expand my research this year as the Rosa Parks Intern for Social Justice.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 3.5 million people (1.35 million of whom are children) are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, while 20–25 percent of that population suffers from a severe mental illness—and that number is only growing. The way in which our society addresses mental illness today is leading to an increase in homelessness, incarceration and unemployment. The fact that people with mental illness are insufficiently aided and are left stuck in the circular pattern that these factors create is an injustice. By creating awareness, eliminating stigma and promoting a society in which the mentally ill are encouraged to seek support, our society will eventually eliminate an injustice that segregates those with a mental disease from our society.


Phillip LeePhillip Lee
Thurgood Marshall Intern for Social Justice

My major is criminal justice, and I am a senior at Elmhurst College. I am from Chicago, and I plan to pursue a career that involves helping inner-city youth.

I care deeply about civil rights for all. This year, as Thurgood Marshall interns, Vannisha Curd and I will work to raise awareness about human trafficking. We plan to conduct research, supply students with statistical information and educate the campus about sex trafficking in the Chicagoland region. Many students at Elmhurst College are not aware of the problems of urban communities, and this year our goal is to bring awareness to these issues.


Vannisha CurdVannisha Curd
Thurgood Marshall Intern for Social Justice

My major is sociology. I am from Oakland, California, and I plan to pursue a career as a juvenile probation officer. I am a senior and will be graduating in spring 2014.

I have a passion for civil rights and ensuring that everyone is treated in a just manner. As part of our Thurgood Marshall internship, Phillip Lee and I plan to focus on the lack of fresh fruit that is available in urban communities. We also will continue to be involved in sending NAACP members to volunteer at “Easy Care,” an after-school program in Bensenville, Illinois, that is free of charge to students. Easy Care provides youth with a safe place to finish homework and hang out until their parents come home from work.

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