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Building Bridges to the Future at Webster University

Posted on May 1, 2022, by Annie Stevens CoL

Annie Stevens enjoys a light moment with students.
Photo courtesy of Annie Stephens

On April 5, a large virtual gathering of Webster University scholarship students and donors celebrated together and shared stories. Among the participants was Barbara Ann Barbato, long-time Webster faculty member, who noted how energizing it was to see current students ready to pursue their dreams — “All because Loretto had a vision and planted a dream of a college for women in 1915!”

Every year since 1987, the Sisters of Loretto Endowed Founders Scholarship Fund has helped women whose education has been interrupted complete their college degree at Webster. This year’s 14 recipients — with majors ranging from chemistry to criminology, from education to media studies — described specific ways they plan to use their education for making a better world:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought science to the forefront for many people and delivered many new advances to vaccine development. In addition to doing the research in pharmaceuticals, I want to develop more sustainable laboratory practices to help alleviate scientific waste contributions to the climate crisis.”

“I plan to change the world by offering counseling and therapy sessions to inmates who will soon transition to the outside world. I want to prepare people for a positive life after imprisonment.”

“I believe that higher education is something that everyone has a right to. My overall goal is to make sure no matter what child walks into my classroom, I will make sure that student feels welcomed, safe and supported.”

“I will use my degree to work at a news station as a reporter representing the voice of minorities who cannot tell their stories. Next, I will document the journey of entrepreneurs and scholars of different ethnicities in order to inspire their own cultures.”

That same evening, more bridges were being built in the classroom. My students in Global Gender Justice and I were meeting on campus to share and discuss case studies from the U.N. Women website and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The 14 students in this keystone course (a capstone for the Global Citizenship Program) truly are a global group, with roots in Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria and the United States. Topics addressed during the eight weeks include leadership, peace and security, economic development, community health and education and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Following the same justice theme, my Wednesday night class and I explore Intersections between Religions and Ecojustice, engaging with contemporary issues such as environmental ethics and climate justice. Starting the course with the recent CSW66 sessions on gender and climate action, students examined engaged projects and heard from scholars such as Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, founders of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. The final project asks students to build their own bridges to the future:

How do people in your profession evaluate and respond to what you now know about ecojustice – considering the intersection of race, gender, class?

How do the intersections impact local and global systems – housing, health, infrastructure, education, employment?

Since 2022, what goals toward ecojustice might we achieve if we pay attention? If we fail to pay attention, what will happen?


Annie Stevens CoL

Annie has lived Loretto life, both as a vowed and a co-member, since 2001. She loves teaching at Webster University, serving on the board of Nerinx Hall High School, and researching Loretto history. In her free time, she likes to travel and frequently visits the Missouri Botanical Garden. She enjoys sharing her flower photos on Facebook.
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