Graduate Caitlin Morneau shares a smile with Center for Justice and Peacebuilding Practice Director Amy Knorr at the CJP post-graduate celebration Sunday, May 5. Morneau, a restorative justice program and practices developer at Catholic Mobilizing Network, was among 30 to graduate with master's degree and graduate certificates from CJP. (Photos by Macson McGuigan and Jon Styer)

CJP graduates 30 peacebuilders in 2019

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Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding Class of 2019 includes a teacher from South Korea, a U.S. Army veteran, a former PeaceCorps worker and dancer who plans to use arts as a healing ministry, and a immigrant and human rights advocate who has worked in Oregon and El Salvador. Five Fulbright Scholars – from Lebanon, Republic of North Macedonia, Western Sahara, Afghanistan and the Republic of Georgia – and many others were also among the 30 graduates.

The traditional CJP Celebration of Blessings in Martin Chapel followed EMU’s main commencement. Family, friends, mentors, former graduates and current students gathered with faculty and staff for the ceremony. Ram Bhagat, a Richmond-based educator and Summer Peacebuilding Institute instructor, provided the drumming for the processional and recessional. He was also among the celebrants, having added a graduate certificate in restorative justice to prior educational achievements of a doctorate in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree in school and community counseling from Virginia State University.

Executive Director Daryl Byler, welcoming the audience at his final commencement before moving onto his new position in Washington D.C., noted that the past year, though full of challenges for all in the CJP community, was preparation for the hard work to come. Peacebuilding is by its nature a challenge, he said. “We all struggle with how to hold in appropriate tension concepts that on the surface often appear to be at odds with one another: the importance of truth telling and the importance of mercy and grace and suspending judgment; the importance of justice that holds accountable and the importance of justice that heals and restores; the importance of changing systems and the importance of nurturing relationships.”

Graduates Eunkyung Ahn, Benton Stull and Talibah Aquil offered graduate perspectives. Ahn shared a celebratory poem. Stull thanked all for the “life-giving” experience of being in community with people who “believe that peace is possible and who seek to build it in this life.”

Quoting Genesis 2:7, Aquil spoke of breath as the gift of life from God. “There is power in the breath, our voice, our collective,” she said. “My prayer is that we remember our breath wherever we go in the world, fighting for justice, praying for freedom.”

Tala Bautista and Kirby Broadnax passed on thanks, congratulations and blessings from the first-year students.

Professor Gloria Rhodes noted that each graduate, and those they bring into the community, impacts, and will continue to impact, the ongoing work at CJP. “We’ve benefited from our connections with you. We’ve been challenged by you. We’ve learned from you. We’ve done our work better because of you. We’ve felt your love and caring as we’ve developed relationships with you…We have seen you and you have made a difference through your presence here.”

Each graduate was celebrated with a short speech by a faculty member before moving down the reception line to receive greetings and congratulations from other faculty and staff.

MA in Conflict Transformation graduates

Samira Ibrahim Abou Alfa, Barja, Lebanon

Eunkyung Ahn, Chungchengnam-do, Republic of Korea

Talibah Atiya Najee Aquil, New York, New York

Bouela Lehbib Breica, Western Sahara

Filip Cvetanovski, Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia

Eric Jon Eberly, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Tyler Jeffrey Goss, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Felix Mutinda Kioko, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Bethany Renata Loberg, Salem, Oregon

Kamran Mamedovi, Tbilisi, Georgia

Maha Y A Mehanna, Gaza, Palestine

Anna Catherine Messer, Staunton, Virginia

Claudia N Costa Ferreira Moreira, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Caitlin Amelia Morneau, Alexandria, Virginia

Christopher Mwita Ndege, Mwanza, United Republic of Tanzania

Bahman Shahi, Kabul, Afghanistan

Astur Muse Tahlil, Portland, Maine

Ying Wang, Nanchong, China

MA in Restorative Justice 

Ilaria Buonriposi, Baltimore, Maryland

Emily Margaret Higgins, Hendersonville, Tennessee

Katrina Cender Poplett, Plymouth, Minnesota

Benjamin Joseph Rush, Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Benton Will Stull, Pratt, Kansas

Mikayla Chelsea Waters-Crittenton, Sterling, Virginia

Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation 

Jessica Rose-Miller Francar, Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice

Sarah Elizabeth Appelbaum, Eugene, Oregon

Ram Bhagat, Richmond, Virginia

Jessica Rose-Miller Francar, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Edward Joseph Hagan, Hagerstown, Maryland

Melody Marie Pannell, Harlem, New York

*The following students earned MA degrees in interdisciplinary studies, a separate program of study at EMU, with a conflict transformation focus: Eugene Kraybill, Berryville, Virginia, Nicholas Alexander Love, Hardy, Virginia; Angelia Maria Miller, Bridgewater, Virginia; Kathryn Glick Smucker, Harrisonburg, Virginia.

 

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