group of students in row


By Carla Beecher 

The long-term effects of our simply, ordinary daily actions can significantly improve society, said sophomore Mia Moore. Through the Mansfield Fellowship for Activism and Community Engagement, Mia and 14 other students spent last summer in communities across Chicagoland learning new ways to effect social change. 

Mansfield Fellows

A member of the honors program with a double major in history and economics and a minor in social justice studies, Mia’s placement at Eden Place Nature Center in Fuller Park was spent learning firsthand about issues surrounding food injustice.

“It opened my eyes to the impact food deserts have on communities and taught me to take a deeper look at how things I do today can make the world a better place tomorrow,” she said.

Through its conservation and agriculture programs, the South Side educational hub uses sustainable practices for growing healthy, fresh food. The Mansfield fellowship, which comes with a $2,500 stipend, helped support Mia as she planted, watered, weeded and harvested the farm’s fruits and vegetables, bringing healthy food to the community and strengthening the urban farm.

Mia and several other fellows in her cohort began the summer with a three-day intensive course exploring the context of community engagement. Taught by Heather Dalmage, professor of sociology and director of the Mansfield Institute, the fellows studied grassroots civil and human rights activist Ella Baker, among others, analyzing various approaches to the demands for social and racial justice.

“Ella Baker’s work is a great example of how small, quotidian actions can change the world,” Mia said. “My internship brought to life some of the social-justice theories I learned in class. It’s part of my educational journey, which has me leaning toward graduate school once I earn my degree.”

Virtual Summer Camp Empowers and Uplifts

For senior Caitlynn Liquigan, a virtual experience as a summer camp instructor for the Michigan chapter of Friendship Circle taught her about her ability to inspire and empower others.

The nonprofit reaches about 3,000 disabled individuals and their families each year through recreational, social, educational and vocational programming, while supporting participants struggling with isolation, addiction and other family-related crises.

A psychology major with a criminal justice minor and a concentration in child and family studies, Liquigan spent 10 hours a week leading 20 participants from around the country in games, story time, conversations and ways to make positive connections with each other. She also developed a letter-writing program to gain one-on-one connections with nonverbal participants.

“My advocacy work highlights people’s shared humanity,” said Caitlynn, who plans on graduate school for social work. She taught participants ways to appropriately address their emotions and reactions to one another so they could better understand their own feelings and find ways to lift each other up with words and actions.

“I gave them the space to talk and restore whatever issue needed attention,” she said. “They formed and developed new habits and behaviors that furthered their social growth. Ultimately, I taught them new ways to confront the disability issues they’re each facing by advocating for themselves and others.

“My fellowship taught me that there is individual power and strength that’s often overlooked, and that by embracing our differences, we can transform society.”

number 5 in circle
donor-funded programs, 

totaling $300K in support, provided 43 students with career readiness and leadership opportunities in 2021 — many who completed paid internships with Chicagoland organizations. 

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