~ by Gia Myers, Cabrini College Class of 1987 for Catholic Philly.com
Reprinted with permission from Catholic Philly and with appreciation to Dr. Jerry Zurek, Cabrini University
Dr. Jerry Zurek: “Cabrini University alumna Gia Myers ’87 did an absolutely wonderful job profiling the accomplishments of 6 of our recent grads and their work for Global Justice through Catholic Relief Services.”
Among the graduates at Cabrini University’s three commencement ceremonies on May 22 were six student ambassadors for Catholic Relief Services, who along with their fellow graduates heard from speaker Sean Callahan, president and CEO of CRS.
“This is a hopeful moment, and we need to be people of hope,” Callahan told the graduates and guests. “Yet, as I say this, I know that the world is being pulled apart.” He referred to news reports of mass shootings in the United States, the global COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Callahan encouraged students to “do the impossible,” saying he has seen that the impossible is possible through the 17-year relationship between CRS and Cabrini in which student ambassadors dedicate time during their college years to grow in global awareness, learn valuable advocacy skills and make a difference in the world.
During fall 2020, in the midst of the COVID lock down, Cabrini students still managed to advocate actively for the Global Thrive Act that became law in January 2021, much earlier than expected. The new law mandates that early childhood development activities be integrated into relevant U.S. foreign aid programs, and CRS official attribute its enactment to successful student lobbying.
Cabrini CRS Ambassadors advocated by visiting about 15 virtual classrooms. They spoke with their fellow students and encouraged them to get involved by calling and writing to their government representatives.
“(Students) were excited to ehar that the bill was passed,” said Cabrini graduate and CRS Ambassador president, Layal Srour. “We definitely felt we made an impact. It made us want to do more, want to help more.”
Srour, who is Muslim and the child of immigrant parents from the Middle East, emailed her congressional representatives including Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, representing Pennsylvania’s fifth district, and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey.
Srour said she had never heard about CRS before attending Cabrini, but was attracted to CRS because “they help everyone” in need regardless of creed, race or nationality.
“We called; we lobbied. When we saw the results of it, we were in awe,” said graduating Cabrini CRS Ambassador Ixchele Ortiz about advocating for the Global Child Thrive Act.
Ortiz was born in the Philippines and came to the U.S. when she was 15.
“CRS made me more open-minded,” she said, and also taught her to “go beyond the mindset of being comfortable to realize other people (around the world) might not be.”
In conversation after the graduation ceremony, Callahan told the six Cabrini CRS Ambassadors that CRS “really counted on” their advocacy for passage of the act.
“We heard back from senators and congress,” Callahan told the ambassadors, “and they said (the advocacy) was really super important to them in getting the new law passed so quickly.
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