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Former Fellow: Cameron Kritikos

I remember wanting to be the OSJ Fellow for the longest time. When the Office of Social Justice visited my university, year after year, a bright, ambitious Fellow would present at a conference, talk to a class, and always be willing to answer any questions every time they stopped by the school. Having received my degree in International Development Studies, and as a lover of the church, I thought mobilizing people of faith to live more fully into their discipleship in the public realm was the highest calling I could aspire to. And so, I applied. I waited. I waited a bit more. 

To my delight I was accepted to start that summer

And I wasn’t accepted. I was disappointed. In many ways, I felt the doubt most of us feel when we fail after setting our expectations high: “Maybe I’m just not good enough, or smart enough.” 

I ended up finding my way back to Chicago where I served a non-profit organization called LUCHA with the Americorps VISTA program in which I developed grant proposals and implemented a communications strategy. In the spring of 2018, I applied again for the OSJ Fellowship - thinking that a year gaining experience and a few skills would help - and to my delight I was accepted to start that summer as the 2018-2019!

I had this remarkable opportunity in front of me to walk alongside churches, provide support where needed, and spend a year diving deep into the world of faith and politics. While I was excited to serve the church, I wasn’t entirely sure what would come next, which is another way of saying that even before I started at the OSJ, I knew that my time there had an expiration date.

As a Fellow, I discovered that what I wanted more than anything was to go back to school,

So I made myself a deal: I was going to give this job my time, my energy, and my commitment to faithfully pursue the advancement of a more sustainable future, just immigration system, and faithful church. At the same time, I would spend this year taking every professional development opportunity, networking lunch, conference invite, and travel excursion to broaden my horizons as wide as possible. As a first generation college student, I felt as though this Fellowship was my opportunity to materialize the hopes I had for myself and put myself in a position to thrive after having left.

A year and a half later, I can confidently say that despite the challenges faced during my Fellowship, I gained the mobilizing, communication, leadership, and workplace skills that provide me a diverse repertoire of abilities I use now as a graduate student. As a Fellow, I discovered that what I wanted more than anything was to go back to school, and more specifically to study at a school that allowed me the opportunity to pursue degrees in theology and environmental management. I’ve been given the gift of attending Yale University, and today when I speak to undergraduate students, churchgoers, or friends, I talk about my experience with the OSJ. I mention organizing hundreds of Michiganders to attend a lobbying day in Lansing to support solar energy. I comment on conversations I had with legislative assistants in DC about why as a Christian the climate crisis propels me to travel halfway across the country to ensure meaningful action is taken to protect the poor, the vulnerable, and God’s creation. Lastly, I mention my supervisors and co-workers who then and now have been friends, coworkers, companions, fellow trouble-makers, and pilgrims on the journey. 

The OSJ, for that year I had the privilege of spending with them, was a workplace, a career development office, and a home. 

Does this experience sound amazing?  Would you like to join us for 2021-22?  Apply today or read more stories!

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