I do not know that I can pinpoint the exact moment when I decided that I needed to work toward become a peacemaker. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school for nearly my entire K-12 school career (I went to public school for 6 months in Texas). The overarching theme that I remember through all of my childhood was one of social justice. My mother worked in food banks and with migrant workers. She, herself, was a social worker, assisting the HIV positive community in Salt Lake City during at time when AIDS and HIV were extremely feared. She always acted to help others and gave me a sense that I needed to do the same.
I was always passionate about certain issues in high school. I spoke out against things I did not agree with and was reminded my one of my most favorite teachers on graduation night not to lose my spark. I went on to college in the hopes of becoming a marine biologist but had struggled with math since 1st grade and ended up going the route of the Social Sciences (a much better fit).
I dabbled in different classes, eventually falling in love with history and anthropology. I felt passionate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was heartbroken on 9/11. Another professor within the history department urged me to write and take classes on terrorism and peace. I did. And I shined. I was awarded an internship with the Middle East Policy Council in Washington, D.C. on graduation and lived in the city for three months. My passion didn’t end.
I returned to Utah and did not know where to go next. I helped to care for my grandparents, I worked with my mom as she opened a hospice service in Salt Lake City, then I returned to work and Weber State and attempted to get into masters programs. University of Utah wouldn’t accept me into their American History program, Syracuse University, however, took me into their Master of Social Science program, where I once more, found myself drawn to courses on war and peace.
My masters program took significantly longer than I expected but I finished, writing my capstone project on Jane Addams Use of Emotions in the Creation of Social Change. I fitting start to where I am now with this project. Jane Addams was saddened and angered by the conditions she witnessed in Chicago and worked in help the poor and immigrant communities thrive with Hull House.
I always knew I wanted a PhD and eventually found a program in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where I once more focused on historical conflict and was drawn to the concept of what I call “generational memory.” The stories we tell ourselves and our children set them up for peace or conflict. Almost every conflict we face today is due to some sort of historical memory firmly latching itself onto the human consciousness. The genocide in Rwanda is a perfect example of generational memory and hate coming to the forefront.
For some time after I finished my PhD I felt I had wasted my time and education. Until the election of Donald Trump in 2016. I was angry, scared, frustrated with our nation and the state of the world and like Jane Addams, felt the need to do something about my emotions and change the world.
So, today, my journey led here, to Geeks4Justice. I am still working on what needs to be done but I focus on sharing events on the Facebook page for others to participate in and hope that others will share events and thoughts as well. We have a long journey ahead of us still and I would love for you to join me in making our community a better place.