Every fall, Sojourners warmly welcomes a new intern class. For a year, a group of 10 women and men join our mission to put faith in action for social justice. Each intern works full time in one of our departments. The Sojourners Internship Program is dedicated to offering a holistic integration of life and faith through professional development, spiritual guidance, and intentional Christian community. Sojourners is also committed to providing interns with housing, meals, healthcare, local transportation, and a stipend in keeping with a simple lifestyle.
Our newest intern group, Cycle 32 (Yes, this program has been around for 32 years and is going strong!), comes from a dizzying array of backgrounds and religious traditions. From California to New Hampshire, they are brought together by their passion for faith and social justice. They bring laughter, creativity, and just the right dose of quirkiness with them wherever they go.
Read on to learn about each individual in Cycle 32 and the people they are grateful for in their own journeys to Sojourners. And a deep thanks from our entire staff for the ways your support allows this internship program to thrive year after year!
Olivia Whitener, Editorial Assistant
My name is Olivia Whitener, and I am so excited to be exploring the editorial world of Sojourners magazine after earning my degree in anthropology at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, N.C. When I was not discussing how to address human rights abuses in culturally-respectful ways, I spent my time leading multiple campus ministry groups, working as a curatorial assistant in a museum, and sitting down over a cup of coffee to lend an ear and a laugh to my friends. My social justice passions surround children’s rights and education, sparked by my work in summer camp programming at my childhood camp in New Jersey.
Ethan, my younger brother, has always set an example of one who questions the status quo and listens for the stories of the unheard. As the real writer in the family, he has helped me articulate my thoughts and my faith, and is a constant support in turning my theory into action. He was the one to help edit my application for this internship (thanks, E!) and talk out my commitment to the program when I got nervous about this change.
Caroline Barnett, Editorial Assistant
I was raised in Kansas City but moved to Michigan for college, where I studied religion and anthropology/sociology. While there, I spent a lot of time in our office of religious and spiritual life. I love to talk about religion — particularly the intersection of belief and lived experiences.
I would like to thank the professors in the religion department at Kalamazoo College. Their lessons, both in and out of the classroom, will stay with me for a long time. They have helped give me the language I needed to articulate my passion for social justice and religion.
Melanie Foust, Donor Services Assistant
Hailing originally from northwest Florida, I come to Sojourners after studying business management in Kentucky. At Asbury University, I became fascinated by the way overarching faith beliefs are revealed in everyday actions. This year I look forward to further exploring the biblical principles of justice and peace.
I’m grateful to Tyler Wigg-Stevenson for mentioning Sojourners in his book The World Is Not Ours to Save. Who would guess a book I picked to reckon with my fear of cause burnout would be part of what led me to work for a social justice organization?
Jess Tveit, Circulation Assistant
Hello! I am most recently coming from Tacoma, Wash., but was raised most of my life in southern California. In the Pacific Northwest, I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University where I discovered my interest in community as well as how our Western culture has impacted those around the world. Coming to Sojourners has become an incredible opportunity to develop my concept of culture and how to encourage those of faith to stand for social justice.
I would personally love to lift up Rachel Haxtema, who is the reason for my being at Sojourners. She not only introduced me to the organization but has quietly walked alongside me in my life journey for the last year. While serving as a mentor and friend and working together in the Parkland community, she has indirectly challenged me to find ways to intertwine my passions with my profession. In seeing her find purpose in the daily grind, I have begun to seek small interactions where I can combat today’s difficult issues. I will be forever grateful for her impact in my life.
Patrick Walls, Communications Assistant
I am a native Hoosier, having grown up outside Indianapolis, and I recently graduated from North Park University in Chicago with a degree in business and economics with a marketing concentration and a minor in music. Through many wonderful encounters in college, I have become passionate about how race, gender, class, and religion intersect and how policy and perception affect different people.
I want to recognize my mentors at North Park, especially Pastor Judy Peterson, Steve Kelly, Rich Kohng, and Marcus Simmons for introducing me to the fight for social justice in the Church. It is because of these people that I had my passions for justice sparked and that I even heard of, let alone visited, and applied to Sojourners.
Ryan Hammill, Online Assistant
Back in daycare at his parents’ gym, Ryan hid in the plastic tunnels, and instead of crawling around and jumping in the ball pit, he wrote stories about talking animals. He has since moved on to writing about more “serious” things like Russian peasants and American novelists, but maybe someday he’ll return to his original muse, like one of his favorite writers, C.S. Lewis. The similarities between the two pretty much end there though. For example, Ryan has a wonderful relationship with both of his parents, and he’s deeply grateful to them for more than he could possibly name.
Ryan would also like to thank Colin Chan Redemer, a close friend and mentor. Colin began keeping up with Ryan’s literary career in the “angsty-adolescent” phase, when Colin was his middle school youth pastor. Sadly, he missed out on the talking animals. Ryan’s life path would look very different without Colin — between the challenge to integrate his beliefs with his actions, the encouragement through times of difficulty, and the long nights spent reading Michael Robbins’ poetry aloud, Colin has imparted a unique richness to Ryan’s life. Besides writing a recommendation for him, Colin also introduced Ryan to Sojourners back in high school and encouraged him to consider a tech-related job — hence the Online Assistant position.
Alison Chang, Executive Assistant
I grew up in southern California and South Korea before graduating from Wheaton College in Illinois with a bachelor’s in international relations. I believe that global change happens through local action and am particularly interested in holistic reconciliation and development. I’m excited to learn more about how domestic policy and legislation affects the world.
I would like to recognize LinC Ministry, World Christian Fellowship, and HNGR communities for inspiring me in my pursuits of engaging in social justice and serving the global church. I am also deeply grateful for my family — Kyu, Hanna, Alyssa, and Alex — who teach me to live every day fully and to love others well. Dua muach.
Stephanie Clark, Advertising Assistant
Most recently I come to Washington, D.C., from the North Shore of Massachusetts where I obtained my degree in social work and a minor in art. I enjoy traveling, drinking coffee, hiking, and growing my own food. I believe that connection to the earth and to food provides a framework to build relationships across cultural, racial, gender, and age barriers.
I would like to thank my cousin, Tim King, for being such a great example of what it means to seize the day, learn something new, and to follow your passions — even when they do bring you halfway around the world and back again. Tim worked at Sojourners for quite a number of years and kindly recommended the program as “a good fit” for me. So far I think he’s been right!
Leticia Trujillo, Church Engagement Assistant
I grew up in Santa Clarita, Calif., where I was a member of a Hispanic church until I went away to college. I graduated from Biola University with a degree in political science. While attending college, I became passionate about issues of social justice and biblical reconciliation.
I want to thank Tamra, Alicia, and Glen, as they have been dedicated educators and mentors who have guided me as a student at Biola. I am incredibly grateful for the sacrifices made to help me graduate. I also want to thank every organization and program that I was involved in at Biola, equipping me with all the right tools to succeed. Lastly, I have gotten very far with the love and support of my mother, sister, father, and brother. A million thanks to all.
Rick Herron, Campaigns Assistant
I'm from Dresden, Tenn., and graduated from college in 2013. Since then, I've worked on political campaigns in Tennessee and as a Sierra Club field organizer fighting against massive coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. I've been involved with environmental advocacy and education since high school and am looking forward to working on these issues at Sojourners through the lens of creation care.
I am beyond grateful to my parents, Roy and Nancy, who taught me that loving your neighbor requires being involved in the public sphere. In addition to being wise, loving, and supportive parents, they are both savvy, relentless, and formidable advocates for social justice. If I grow up to be the half the person that my mom or my dad is, I'll have exceeded my own wildest expectations.
To learn more about Cycle 32 and other staff members, visit Sojourners’ staff leadership page.