Hamline Student and Alumna Were Each Honored for Innovative Ideas for Enacting Social Change.
Members of the Hamline community aren’t just passionate about issues of social justice, they generate solutions and put those plans into action.
The Saint Paul Foundation recently challenged Minnesotans to brainstorm ways to reduce racism in their communities through its Facing Race Idea Challenge. Two winners emerged from an online vote, and both winners have strong ties to Hamline. Current undergraduate student Jake Branchaud-Linsk and alumna Kate Towle now each have the opportunity to implement their winning plans with $2,500 in grant money.
Branchaud-Linsk will use his grant to provide conflict resolution and communication training to groups of diverse high school students to facilitate conversations about race with younger peer groups. The Hamline political science and philosophy major got inspiration from his youth engagement work at the Dispute Resolution Center in Saint Paul, made possible by a Phillips Family Foundation scholarship.
"I want to help build a society that has the skills and confidence to engage in thoughtful discussion about contentious and uncomfortable issues,” Branchaud-Linsk said. “Real equality and respect for diversity will not be possible until we learn to talk about race in an appropriate way."
1983 Hamline alumna Kate Towle will use her grant to support curriculum development, outreach, and the ongoing work of Project s.t.a.r.t. (students together against racial tension) Leadership. Towle believes the program will create an effective venue for youth to practice leadership while tackling the challenging issue of educational equity.
“The youth leadership idea that I submitted to the Facing Idea Challenge was inspired by high school students—I just acted as their adult ally and helped translate their ideas for a broader audience,” Towle said. “The win validated our shared belief that young people need and deserve safe places where they can practice intercultural bridging and equity work alongside adults.”
Towle was a French and international relations major at Hamline and continues to be an active racial justice facilitator in the community.
“I have seen that when students learn about the barriers that their peers of color experience and how it impacts their young lives, they want to take action with adults to create a more equitable society,” Towle said.
It wasn’t a surprise to Hamline’s vice president for academic and student affairs that not one, but two people with connections to the university would win such an award.
“It certainly delights me to hear that they have received this level of recognition for their embodiment of Hamline's commitment to social justice, civic responsibility, and inclusive leadership and service," David Stern said. "I applaud them both for their outstanding efforts to reduce racial tension in our communities, and I applaud the Saint Paul Foundation for its leadership in encouraging and guiding us all in conversation and action around such an important issue."