A Jesuit College Preparatory Experience

Ramblers Advocate for Justice in Washington, D.C.

On November 3–5, 17 Loyola Academy students traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ), an annual gathering for members of Jesuit institutions to meet in the context of social justice and solidarity to learn, reflect, pray and advocate together.   
“These opportunities give students a chance to see that other students in the country are grappling with the same issues that they are,” comments Campus MinisterAlexander Lupo. “It’s a chance for them to see how the Jesuit values we instill in them at Loyola are lived out.”

The weekend began with a visit to Georgetown University where students met with Loyola alumna Nicolina Demakos ’17who gave a tour of Georgetown. They also met with Ms. Sasha George, a Jesuit-educated lawyer with the Environmental Protection Agency. George spoke to Ramblers about climate justice and environmental racism.

For the remainder of the weekend, students attended various seminars and breakout sessions on topics such as criminal justice reform, migration, climate issues, mental health and more.  

“I loved meeting different people from all around the country and being able to listen to their very different and interesting stories,” reflects Senite Barih ’20, who attended sessions on gun violence and racial injustice. “I would definitely encourage more students to attend...Opportunities like these, to be more open to growth and open to speaking up, are amazing.”

Sophomore Amaiya McCord has attended the IFTJ for two consecutive years. Like Barih, McCord participated in discussions on racial injustice and gun violence, and also feminism. “One thing that stood out during the sessions was the fact that African Americans can’t fight the racial battle alone,” she says. “These trips are important if you are looking to make a change in your community.”   

On Monday, the Ramblers divided into two groups. One went to Capitol Hill to advocate for reform in immigration policy with Cathy Hurwit, chief of staff for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th). Here, they were joined by alumna Elinor Rodriguez ’16who currently attends Fordham University. The second group met with staffers in Senator Tammy Duckworth's office. Both groups had the unique opportunity to make their voices heard and put their faith into action.

“From the breakout sessions to the influential keynote speakers, I experienced a form of activism that I can take back to my school, community and society and really push to make a change,” says Jocelyn Woods ’20.

I hope that these students are motivated to take their faith and commitment to justice seriously,” adds Lupo. “I hope that they are inspired to promote change in our community and the communities they find themselves in in the future.”

The trip was chaperoned by Campus Ministers Alex Lupo and Mike Gregg and Campus Ministry Assistant Department Chair Kay Gregg. Student participants included: Faven Alemayhu ’20, Jackson Amrol ’20, Senite Barih ’20, Bryn Buikema ’19, Sophia D’Agostino ’19, Alejandra DeLeon ’19, Evelyn Dziekan ’20, Emily Hendrick ’20, Yemima Kebede ’21, Hannah Locke ’21, Amaiya McCord ’21, John McNabb ’19, Maggie McNabb ’20, Ellen Naughton ’19, Grayson Pitt ’21, Maa Puplampu ’20 and Jocelyn Woods ’20.

Now in its 20th year, the IFTJ has a rich history rooted in honoring the Jesuits and their companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989. To learn more, click here. https://ignatiansolidarity.net/iftj/about/.
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To form women and men for meaningful lives of leadership and service in imitation of Jesus Christ through a college preparatory education in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.
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