Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) students danced and blessed the journeys of their 16 classmates earning master’s degrees or graduate certificates at its Celebration of Blessings on May 7, 2023. CJP faculty also recognized graduates by offering words of praise, and graduates shared reflections of their time in the program, which had central themes of learning and hope.
“Graduation is a celebration of learning,” said CJP Academic Director and Professor Gloria Rhodes to an enthusiastic crowd of family, friends, faculty and guests who gathered to support the group of graduates who “began their study during a time of global uncertainty caused by a pandemic, wore masks, joined classes through Zoom, kept their distance, and contributed to the learning community that is CJP.”
Tarini Nagasaila Suresh (pictured left), an MA in conflict transformation graduate, encouraged her fellow graduates to lean into the messy, confusing and uncomfortable parts of life.
“If we embrace and nurture our turmoil, it can facilitate transformational growth in our lives. If we expect and hope to change the world, we must be the change we hope to see,” said Suresh, who credits CJP with teaching her that she will always be a student of life.
MA in conflict transformation graduate Anne Coyne (pictured right) spoke about the doubts she and others feel about the world and the way those doubts are nourished by fellow classmates. “I have learned that this doubt is not in opposition to hope or purpose, but rather it feeds hope and purpose,” shared Coyne, who says she found a “network of genuine care” at CJP and learned that holding “deep convictions and the worth of every person are intertwined skills.”
The 2023 grads represent four countries—India, Liberia, Mexico and the Republic of Korea—and six U.S. states: California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Graduates will 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.
Keren Kandel (pictured above), who earned an MA in conflict transformation, is also one of the first (along with Grant Miller) to earn a graduate certificate in faith-based peacebuilding. The new certificate for 2022-23 is a partnership between Eastern Mennonite Seminary and the CJP.
Kandel shared her appreciation for the values, principles, models, analysis tools and course content she learned at CJP, but said she holds most closely her “companions and their way of being in the world.” “They have inspired me to continue the ever so daunting, yet incredible work of peace, justice, and transformation.”
Rounding out the celebration was a graduate “sending” by Justice Robert Yazzie, a citizen of and Chief Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation; a graduate slideshow; and a ukulele solo of Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher’s “Rainbow Connection” by MA in conflict transformation graduate Elizabeth Eby.
CJP Class of 2023 Graduates
Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation
Erin Campbell – Afton, Virginia
Hyojin Chang – Namyangju, Republic of Korea
Anne Coyne – Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Eby – Goshen, Indiana
Keren Kandel – Kouts, Indiana
Tarini Nagasaila Suresh – Chennai, India
Philip Quoqui – Monrovia, Liberia
Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation
Tony Fisher – Naples, Florida
Amelia Morrison – Harrisonburg, Virginia
Master of Arts in Restorative Justice
Jill Heine – New Holland, Pennsylvania
Graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice
Jenny Davidson – Lexington, Virginia
Paula Holtzinger – East Berlin, Pennsylvania
Pi Martinez – Santa Barbara, California
Helen Momoh – Harrisonburg, Virginia
Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership
Crisol González García – Cuauhtemoc, Mexico
Haley Smith – Rome, Georgia