Some of the 2022 graduates from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding's Celebration of Blessings hosted online Saturday, May 7, as part of Eastern Mennonite University's Commencement celebrations. CJP's Class of 2022 includes 29 graduates. (Courtesy of CJP)

CJP’s 29 peacebuilding graduates from the Class of ‘22 are ‘already changing the world’

The day before acclaimed human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson gave the Commencement address at Eastern Mennonite University, 29 graduates of the university’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding gathered virtually for the traditional Ceremony of Blessings.

Joined by faculty, family, friends and supporters, the graduates – many of whom are already working in peacebuilding and adjacent professional fields – shared gratitude for lives changed and transformed in their time together. 

“Deep soul-searching, inspiration, discouragement, understanding, connectedness, support, surprise and sobering reality” was how one graduate named the intellectual and emotional challenges surfaced by CJP coursework and experiences. 

“This finish line looks increasingly beautiful to me,” said another, adding that the passion for justice that she brought to the first day of her studies has been both “intensified” and “solidified.”

With their new degrees, the Class of 2022 will join an expansive network of 726 alumni working around the globe.

The 2022 grads represent eight countries – Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Honduras, Lebanon, Philippines, South Africa, and the United States. Within the U.S., grads hail from California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin.

They work in the fields of restorative justice, human and victims rights, the ministry, environmental justice, peace education, counseling, LGBTQ+ social justice advocacy, and urban studies, among many others. 

This group of learners joined CJP during a global pandemic, entering perhaps not fully ready for the virtual learning experience of Owl cameras, Zoom, and VoiceThread – but all committed to seeking change and transforming both themselves and their contexts, according to Executive Director Jayne Docherty. 

“Some were in their first course when George Floyd was murdered, and others joined the program after that tragedy, looking for tools to transform the reality of ongoing racism,” she said. “This should tell you something about this particular group of CJP graduates – when the world was burning down, they heard an inner call to be part of the solution. They made a commitment to the future – to a world of possibilities – to the idea that they can make a difference.”

Among their first successes, she noted, was being “co-creators of an authentic liberating learning community that crosses the divisions of time and space.” From that space, “you found ways to make your own learning journeys a gift to others with research projects and class activities that are already changing the world.”

Graduate Katie Mulembe reflected that good, deep questions and the discussions that followed, some with answers and others still unanswered, accompanied all of her learning at CJP – questions about privilege, ownership, justice and who determines what that means, scholarship and who owns the right to say what is truthful, oppressive narratives, when mediation happens and why, and “how we can hold people together in the midst of conflict in order to reach a place of convergence.”

“From here,” she said, “we all carry forward our own answered or hopefully partially answered questions and it will be our life’s work to continue to ask them. As we leave the space CJP has provided for us, I hope that each of us is always accompanied by supportive communities like this, communities that are courageous enough to raise uncomfortable questions and wise enough to understand that the answers may come slowly.”

Learn more about some of the 2022 graduates.

CJP Class of 2022

The following graduates have completed all coursework, or are slated to complete coursework in summer or fall 2022.

Tala Bautista MA ‘20 (conflict resolution), of Tabuk, Philippines, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice;

Darrell (Drick) Boyd, of Broomall, Pennsylvania, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice;

Angelique Bradford, of Somerville, Maryland, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice;

Gabby Bradshaw, of Saegertown, Pennsylvania, earning an MA in restorative justice;

Jessica Brinkley, of Brandywine, Maryland, earning an MA in transformational leadership and a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Jes Buller, of Goshen, Indiana, earning an MA in transformational leadership and a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Corey Chandler, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Simelwe Dlova, of Qumbu, South Africa, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Isaiah Dottin-Carter, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, earning an MA in restorative justice;

Jackie Durant, of Redding, California, earning an MA in restorative justice;

Fabiana Espinal, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice in addition to her MA in counseling degree;

Christine Evans, of Chicago, Illinois, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice;

Corinne Gunter, of Noblesville, Indiana, earning an MA in transformational leadership;

Jose Juan Hernandez Urueta, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Furst Jenkins of Brooklyn, New York, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice in addition to her Master of Divinity degree;

Paul Kayembe, of Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Joy Kreider, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, earning a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Sarah Lammert, of Greensboro, Vermont, earning a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Samuel Larson, of Winchester, Virginia, earning a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Christopher Lenshyn, of Mission, British Columbia, Canada, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Lucie Martinot-Lagarde, of Paris, France, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Katie Mulembe, of Washington, D.C., earning an MA in transformational leadership;

Juna Muller, of Ojai, California, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Paul Mvukiye-Reeser, of Clarkston, Georgia, earning a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Samantha Pearl, of Boston, Massachusetts, earning a graduate certificate in conflict transformation;

Iman Shabazz, of Richmond, Virginia, earning an MA in transformational leadership;

Conner Suddick, of Suamico, Wisconsin, earning an MA in conflict transformation;

Addison Tucker, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, earning an MA in restorative justice;

Yassmine Youssef Hawchar, of Sir el Dannieh, North Lebanon, Lebanon, earning an MA in restorative justice.

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