In 2022, the higher education community celebrated several milestone anniversaries: fifty years since the establishment of Pell grants and Title IX, and ten years since the creation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). In the Jesuit network, another milestone was celebrated this fall: the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ).

Over the summer, we invited our schools to share institutional reflections on what these milestone anniversaries mean to their campuses for this issue of Connections. We know that you will be as moved as we were to read how DACA and Pell grants have helped students attend Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of San Francisco; how Title IX paved the way for student-athletes to excel at Creighton University and Santa Clara University; and how IFTJ inspired students at Saint Peter’s University to work for justice beyond campus.

You will learn more about the history and current status of Pell grants, Title IX, and DACA in this month’s Government Relations report. Should you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Vice President of Government Relations, Jenny Smulson:

On behalf of my colleagues at AJCU, we hope that you enjoy this issue and that the end of this Fall semester goes smoothly (and quickly!).

By Deanna Howes Spiro, Vice President of Communications, AJCU

Brandi Chastain ’91, during the Santa Clara University College Cup match against Brigham Young University on December 12, 2021 (photo by Don Jedlovec, courtesy of Santa Clara University)


Professional athlete, activist, and 1991 Santa Clara University alumna Brandi Chastain grew up at a time when the educational and sports anti-discrimination law Title IX was in force— but not really enforced. As an athletically gifted student, she participated in every sport she could in middle and high school, including baseball and flag football on co-ed teams. But it took a few years before she realized that the feeling that she and other girls often lived with —that they weren’t really entitled to the same athletic opportunities as boys—really struck her as fundamentally wrong and unfair. She’s been an advocate and pioneer for women’s sports, and women in sports, ever since.

In an interview, Chastain discussed Title IX’s impact on some of the key moments of her life and athletic career —including the iconic United States 1999 World Cup win in China; the first Olympic women’s soccer games in 1996 at which the U.S. won gold; and the women’s national soccer team’s recent victory for pay equity.

This Q&A was edited for brevity and clarity.

Santa Clara: Thinking back to your elementary and high school sports experiences, what was the impact of Title IX?
Brandi Chastain: Obviously, sports were coursing through my blood ever since I was really little. It didn’t matter who was playing, I felt that I belonged, and maybe Title IX subconsciously was a part of that. But since I grew up in a household where my mother was not encouraged to play athletics— even though she encouraged me to participate— I don’t think Title IX was something that we even talked about. I was born four years before the law was enacted, and then, when I was in middle school, I was already playing, sometimes on mixed teams like in baseball. In sixth grade, I played flag football, co-ed. It was called co-ed, only there were no girls.

On the middle school soccer team, a few girls came out with me to the co-ed team and the coach said, “What are you all doing here?” And we said, “We’re trying out for the co-ed soccer team.” He said, “It’s not really for you.” But then Steven Robertson ’90, —who went on to Santa Clara and played on the men’s soccer team— stood up and said, “Hey, they’re pretty good. You should check them out.” That really changed the trajectory of my life unknowingly. Just that slight action kind of put it in the back of my head that, “Yeah, why wouldn’t I?” And so any anytime going forward, that was kind of my stand. That was my foundation.

I think it was also recognizing that talent looks different. It doesn’t always have to look like you, and that’s not something to be afraid of, but something to embrace and to support.

You didn’t originally enroll at Santa Clara out of high school. Why did you transfer in?
I came from Cal (UC Berkeley) where I was the Freshman Player of the Year. And then in the spring, I tore my ACL so I had to red shirt that next year. I realized that I didn’t feel like I was in the place that I needed to be personally. So I came home to San Jose, and went to a local junior college, getting myself back on track academically, then was recruited to play at Santa Clara. I said, “Yes” to coming, and then I tore my other ACL. So I was training, and I was getting better. The first game that we played that season was against Cal. I didn’t play in that game. That was the first time Cal lost at home in a ridiculous amount of games—something like 80 games. So that was a really big game. I didn’t get to play it. But it was the start of my Santa Clara career.

The late U.S. Representative Patsy Mink (D-HI), a key original sponsor of Title IX in Congress, said that the bill was intended “to free the human spirit to make it possible for everyone to achieve according to their talents and wishes.” Do you see synergy between the aims of Title IX and Jesuit values?
Coming to Santa Clara, such a big part of the education was that we’re not just learning psychology or math or communication skills. There’s also community service and reaching out and being a really important, impactful part of the community where you live, and athletics isn’t the number one priority. It’s very balanced.

We’re learning how to integrate ourselves in the greater good, in the big picture, and how the picture is much more robust and more beautiful if it includes everybody, as opposed to just some who can afford it, or are the right gender, or come from the right place. I think coming to Santa Clara at the time I did made my life more balanced and more whole, because that was part of the missing piece. For both Title IX and a Jesuit education, the most paramount component is the people and caring for the people. And how we do that and what that looks like. They kind of go in lock-step together.

How do you see the impact of Title IX during some of the most important moments in your athletic career?
I think of three significant moments. First, the World Cup. The significance of that was the audaciousness of the World Cup Committee —run and led by Marla Messing—and the desire for the organization to really showcase the event. FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) had wanted to put the 1999 women’s World Cup championship events in small stadiums in one area and just kind of give it lip service. Marla and the committee said, “No, that’s not how we’re doing it. We’re going to do this really big, from coast to coast in the biggest stadiums and we’re going to show you the power of women’s soccer— the appeal, the love for it, the passion for it.”

FIFA hadn’t really supported what was happening. The organization putting it on in China, though, did a great job. The 1999 World Cup is just an example of women who had been influenced by Title IX, now running an event that was now for women. So they could imagine it, even though we not seen it before.

Another moment is the first Olympics featuring women’s soccer in 1996. Even though it’s not directly connected to Title IX, because it’s an international event and because it was in the U.S., it allowed for the female athlete to really be elevated. It wasn’t just the individual sport anymore. It wasn’t the swimmer; it wasn’t the gymnast. It was team sports like we had never done before. It was incredible, and our women’s teams were so elevated and so successful that summer, and undoubtedly Title IX was the undercurrent running under all of that.

Finally, pay equity (in which the women’s national soccer team will be paid equally to the men as of May 2022). I say it with great respect and great pride that this group of women stood the test of time in terms of fighting for it, believing in it. And then it finally happened. But that same fight was nearly four decades in the making. So this has been persisting with this women’s national team for every single generation. I feel that Title IX, again, is really the unsung, unspoken hero of pay equity, because without Title IX, so many of these young women would not be participating in college sports, would not be participating in professional sports, and would not be making national teams and going to the Olympics and the World Cup. Therefore, their voices would not have been shared, and we would not have come to this decision. So, thank you Title IX, and Patsy Mink, and everybody else who committed to something that was seen as so far out of the norm.

I just think Title IX is responsible for so many great outcomes. Maybe it doesn’t come up on people’s lips every day, but we know that Title IX was absolutely the foundation for all of these young female collegiate athletes, these young high school athletes who are aspiring to go on to be professionals, and whatever it is they choose, and using sport as a vehicle for change. Whether they go on to be professionals doesn’t matter—they will use the lessons in sport to drive home their ambition wherever it is that they choose to go.

By Deborah Lohse, Director of Media and Internal Communications, Santa Clara University

Rev. Andrew Downing, S.J. with students at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (photo courtesy of Saint Peter’s University) 

Every year, faculty, staff and students from Jesuit institutions across the country gather together at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C. Attendees are invited to come together to learn, reflect, pray, network and advocate for social justice.

The event is hosted by the Ignatian Solidarity Network in memory of the six Jesuits and their two companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989. The Office of Campus Ministry at Saint Peter’s University regularly organizes a group of community members to attend the weekend-long gathering every year.

According to staff at Saint Peter’s Office of Campus Ministry, “We come together each year in the spirit of the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador, using their lives and ministry as inspiration for examining the injustices of today and discerning how we might engage in them. The Teach-In is a place where people are empowered, re-energized, inspired, challenged and supported by a community that sees faith and justice integrally linked.”

This year’s gathering, which was held on October 22-24, marked a significant milestone, as it was the 25th anniversary of the event. In honor of this occasion, various members of the Saint Peter’s community took some time to reflect on their personal experiences at the Teach-In.

Carmen Benitez ’22
My time at the Ignatian Family Teach-In was a beautiful experience. It was a weekend full of hope, difference and community. Saint Peter’s Office of Campus Ministry has opened different doors for me and this one was a huge opportunity that enabled me to grow. Initially, I had no idea what to expect or what I would see. I just knew I was going to learn about immigration and social justice issues that were happening in America. I ended up hearing powerful stories that twisted your heart and made you reflect on what is important in life.

The stories that stood out were the ones told by two students who started a program to make DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students feel safe on their campus. The students shared stories of DACA students who didn’t know their status because their parents feared for them. The DACA students also shared that they couldn’t attend certain trips because of their status and that they became ashamed of their situation. I personally have many friends who are DACA students, but never thought to ask how they felt about their situation. It was encouraging to hear how DACA students experienced love and support from the campus ministry office and at the Ignatian Family Teach-In.

During the Teach-In. I also had the opportunity to talk to different people and learn about services I never knew existed. Most important, I was with my own community, which is the Saint Peter’s Office of Campus Ministry family. My experience at the Teach-In was one that I encourage everyone to take and learn from. We have to become a new voice for the ones who can’t speak for themselves.

Kimberly Rojas ’23
I attended the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in 2021. Initially, I felt anxious to be attending such a large event after everything being virtual for so long due to the pandemic. However, I was also excited for the workshops related to climate change and migration, which are extremely applicable today. From the start, the emcees were very welcoming and energetic. The room was filled with students representing their school spirit from all across the country. We had fantastic keynote speakers who knew how to engage their audience and bring awareness to the issues at hand. I learned about many ways to get involved and help in a broader spectrum.

I was very proud to see students my age and even younger being the leaders for change at their schools. It was empowering to hear how they transformed their experiences from their own obstacles into resources for others going through something similar.

I valued my experience so much that I attended the Teach-In again in 2022. This event helped me understand a little more about what it means to be a student at a Jesuit institution: seeing our values being put into action and being a voice for those who are voiceless. I would recommend that every student attend this gathering at least once during their time at Saint Peter’s.

Rev. Andrew Downing, S.J. with students at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (photo courtesy of Saint Peter’s University)


Erich Sekel, Associate Director of Campus Ministry for Community Service
I have attended the Teach-In five times during my time at Saint Peter’s, but 2022 was the first time I was there since 2014. I was extremely impressed by how much the event has expanded and grown. It was great to see representation from other Catholic institutions outside of the Jesuit network.

In my role at Saint Peter’s, I regularly work with students on service projects in the community, but the Teach-In is a great way to interact with our students in a different capacity. Participation in the event is a great opportunity for our students because the University covers the cost and students are able to learn about important issues like climate change and immigration reform. In addition, we have the chance to connect and network with representatives from other Jesuit institutions across the country.

This year, I was particularly inspired by one of our students who attended the event for the first time as a freshman. Samantha Castro, a student who came to Saint Peter’s from California, has been involved in community service since she got to campus. However, her participation in the Teach-In encouraged her to take the next step of going from service work to advocacy or justice work. I look forward to seeing what Samantha will accomplish in her years to come at Saint Peter’s.

In many ways, Saint Peter’s mission to “excel intellectually, lead ethically, serve compassionately and promote justice in our ever-changing urban and global environment” is embodied in the experience at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The Saint Peter’s community has developed a tradition to participate in this annual event to engage in a dialogue of faith and justice and to experience the company of people working for change.

By Angeline Boyer, Director of University Communications at Saint Peter’s University

In Fall 1959, the newly formed Women’s Recreation Association at Creighton organized several intramural sports activities, including instruction in “water ballet” (photo courtesy of Creighton University)


The women are forever young as they smile cheerfully from a mid-20th century black-and-white photograph.

It was their moment in time and, like the women pioneers who preceded them on the American Great Plains, these Creighton University athletes proved a revolutionary force. Within ten years, they and their sisters across the nation would see the president of the United States sign into law “Title IX”: an amendment to federal civil rights law that bans every educational institution throughout the land in receipt of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex in its programs or activities. And that includes sports.

Fifty years have passed since former President Richard Nixon put his name to that directive in 1972. The Creighton women who were then performing intramural water ballet and synchronized swimming routines, and indeed those of even earlier dates who formed rifle teams and fitness clubs in the 1930s, must surely today marvel at the vibrant world of women’s athletics they did so much to create.

Today, women’s collegiate sports are mainstream. For example, a recent Creighton women’s basketball game in November 2022 drew 2,306 spectators to the University’s D.J. Sokol Arena, where they handily defeated their in-state rival, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). A month earlier, the nationally-ranked Creighton volleyball team took on UNL’s powerhouse volleyball team before an NCAA record crowd of 15,797 fans. That is a transformative number.

Kirsten Bernthal Booth is the portrait those early Creighton pioneers dreamed of painting.

A star of tennis and volleyball at Lincoln East High School in Nebraska, where she became an all-state setter in volleyball and a three-time All-American and two-time state champion in singles tennis, she embarked on a collegiate volleyball career as player and coach. Today, she is the head coach of Creighton’s women’s volleyball program. In 2002, she inherited a 3-23 Bluejay team. Twenty years later, her 24-3 team is knocking on the door of a top-10 national ranking.

Women’s sports at Creighton, Booth says, follows the faith of the pioneers, that for women in all fields of endeavor, the inconceivable is achievable. “Creighton does so much more than just build athletes,” she says. “We develop people. If you talk with our alumni, they will tell you that although sport was a large part of their college experience, more important was the empowerment they developed to believe that they can do anything they set their mind to.

“We have volleyball alums who are doctors, lawyers, coaches, teachers, stay-at-home moms, pharmacists, executives, nurses, professional athletes, and so much more,” she says. “We want our athletes — and particularly our female athletes — to know there isn’t a glass ceiling they can’t break, and we at Creighton help them develop the skills necessary to believe the inconceivable is achievable.”

As the softball coach from 1977 to 1993, Mary Higgins helped Creighton reach two NCAA Women’s College World Series Tournaments and two AIAW World Series Tournaments (photo courtesy of Creighton University)


Twenty years before Booth took up the volleyball cause, student Mary Higgins pitched the idea of a Creighton University softball team. Armed with Title IX legislation, she won her battle in 1973 and served as the University’s softball coach from 1977 to 1993. Today, she is a Hall of Fame member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, having built a 564-298 career record while twice reaching the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

The walls had fallen, and the story of women’s sports at Creighton ever since has been a story of forward momentum:

And so, the story of women’s athletics at Creighton rolls on, always with the goal, according to Allison Taylor, executive director of Creighton’s Office of Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance, of enabling women to fulfill their potential.

“Our mission calls us to be women and men for and with others, ensuring equity and access for all students,” she says. “Creighton’s holistic approach to Title IX ensures female students, including student athletes, have the opportunities and support they need in order to achieve their highest potential.”

By Eugene Curtin, Office of Marketing and Communications at Creighton University

Loyola University Chicago’s Lake Shore Campus (photo by Lukas Keapproth)


As the higher education community reflects on milestone anniversaries of progress in the path toward equity and access in higher education–fifty years since the founding of Pell Grants and ten years since the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program–Loyola University Chicago reflects on its own institutional commitment to leadership and innovation in these areas.

In the United States today, nearly 7 million students rely on Pell Grants to help them access and afford higher education. The number of Pell-eligible students enrolled at Loyola is among the highest among the member institutions that comprise the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). On average, 22 percent of Loyola undergraduates are eligible for Pell Grants. Some 3,000 students at the University have received a Pell Grant–with $13.5 million awarded to Loyola students in total.

With the rising cost of tuition and other college expenses, the buying power of these grants has sharply declined over the last few decades, which has affected college opportunities and outcomes for the nation’s lower income students. Last year, Loyola students and Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM joined the #DoublePell national campaign led by the Double Pell Alliance, a coalition of higher education associations, organizations, and advocacy groups committed to doubling the maximum Pell Grant in honor of its 50th anniversary.

A significant difference maker in the lives of students, Catharina Baeten ’24 noted, “Receiving the Pell Grant has enabled me to find a silver lining in my education, allowing me the chance to study and pursue my dreams with less of a financial weight on my shoulders and the shoulders of my family.”

Pell Grants hold even greater meaning at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, a two-year college for motivated students with limited financial resources launched in 2015, where 88% of students are Pell-eligible. Arrupe College continues the Jesuit tradition of offering a rigorous liberal arts education to a diverse population, many of whom are the first in their family to pursue higher education. Using an innovative model that ensures affordability while providing care for the whole person—intellectually, morally and spiritually—Arrupe prepares its graduates to enter a Bachelor’s degree program or move into meaningful employment.

“Too often, a key barrier to achieving a college degree has nothing to do with academics, but rather external forces,” said Rev. Tom Neitzke, S.J., Ed.D., Dean of Arrupe College. “We believe in making education affordable, accessible, and achievable for those historically underrepresented, including Pell Grant recipients and DACA students.”

Loyola’s leadership in serving students on the margins also extends to recipients of DACA, the Obama Administration-era policy designed to safeguard children brought into the country unlawfully by providing them with basic rights to work permits and protection from deportation. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Since its inception in 2012, DACA has allowed over 800,000 young people to remain with their families in the only country many of them have ever known and continue to contribute to their communities in the United States.”

In 2013, shortly after DACA’s creation, Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine made history as the first medical school in the United States to openly welcome applications from DACA recipients. Approximately fifty DACA recipients have matriculated at Stritch and more than thirty have graduated and pursued residencies and fellowships. Many now practice as board-certified physicians.

In a recent television interview, fourth-year medical student and DACA recipient Jacky Solis ’23 said that uncertainty around the DACA program is “a dark cloud that follows [recipients].” Solis lent her support to efforts led by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to push for a renewal of DACA and path toward citizenship in Congress. “A lot of our DACA brothers and sisters are now physicians or lawyers,” she said. “A lot of them are teachers educating our next generation.”

In addition to the University’s support of Pell Grants and the DACA program, Loyola is striving to directly address and remove systemic barriers to student success and opportunity. In June, the University announced a $100 million gift–the largest individual gift in Loyola’s history–from John and Kathy Schreiber to fund full scholarships, room and board, and an array of comprehensive support services for aspiring first-generation, ethnically and racially diverse students who are historically underrepresented in higher education.

The Schreibers have long supported important causes that advance equity and justice at Loyola, including a 2017 investment of $6 million in scholarships for students and graduates of Arrupe College, especially those who are ineligible for federal and state aid because of immigration status. Recently, they funded an unprecedented two-year fellowship at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) with a preference for a Loyola School of Law graduate. John and Kathy Schreiber’s $100 million gift launched a broader $500 million effort to provide talented and underserved students with the resources they need to enter college; achieve academic, social, and personal success; and use their talents and education to create better outcomes, a brighter future, and, ultimately, a better world.

Institutional efforts like this, in addition to programs like the Pell Grant and DACA, help provide much-needed access to higher education for students on the margins. A college degree has been and continues to be a transformational pathway for students, families and communities. The average difference in lifetime earnings between college graduates and those with a high school diploma is approximately $1 million. Not only do individuals with college degrees earn significantly more and build generational wealth, but research also reveals other meaningful and longer-term societal benefits. College graduates are typically more engaged in civic and community affairs, committed to helping others through volunteerism and mentoring, and better equipped to sustain positive health outcomes over the course of their lives.

Phil Hale, Loyola’s vice president for government affairs, reflected on the importance of DACA and Pell Grants in expanding educational access and opportunity, “The ability to advocate institutionally for DACA, Pell Grants, and other government programs that positively impact our students is a great honor and privilege. At Loyola, however, our very best advocacy is when we are able to engage our students directly and give them the opportunity to tell their own personal stories, highlighting the critical impact of these programs. We also hope that through their engagement in the public square, Loyola students learn that supporting the common good and learning how to reconcile opposing points of view are important values, and a meaningful part of their Jesuit education.”

By Matthew McDermott, Associate Director of External Communications, Loyola University Chicago

Photo courtesy of Georgetown University

Editor’s note: Pseudonyms were used in this article to protect students’ privacy.

Lucy is a first-generation medical student in Georgetown University’s School of Medicine who immigrated to the United States when she was two. When she interacts with patients on medical rotations, she often thinks of her parents: “My parents always say, ‘Listen and treat every patient you see with your whole heart. You need to view them like they’re us.’”

Lucy does — her parents are the reason she’s in medicine and a Health Justice Scholar, a track in the School of Medicine that educates and prepares physicians to be health justice advocates for their patients. Lucy, who is using a pseudonym to avoid identification, grew up watching her parents avoid medical care for painful infections and illnesses because they were uninsured. They had come to the U.S. on work visas and sought to become permanent residents for years. Despite years of trying, when Lucy was 16, she learned she wasn’t a U.S. citizen, either.

“My parents were using home remedies — which some of the poorest people in our home country had used for medical treatment — despite living in the most medically advanced country,” said Lucy. “That’s what really inspired me to go into medicine. I want to advocate for the uninsured and underserved and see how, as a Dreamer, I can make things easier not only for patients but also for students who want to go into medicine.”

Lucy is a Dreamer, an early recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a policy that has protected young adults from deportation and authorized them to work in the U.S. On the program’s 10th anniversary, as she looks forward to completing her medical degree, Lucy is also looking outward, at fellow DACA recipients interested in medicine, to see how they can receive the support she has at Georgetown and expand it for future students.

She joins Georgetown faculty, staff and students, who, guided by the University’s Jesuit values, have created a robust network of support and resources for DACA recipients and undocumented students, and who, in midst of the program’s uncertain future, are also looking ahead.

Advocacy on the Legal Stage
Georgetown was an early advocate for the Dream Act legislation and a supporter of the DACA program since it was enacted in 2012. University leaders have pressed Congress to pass permanent protections for DACA recipients and joined other colleges and universities in filing amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the program and protecting undocumented students on college campuses, particularly as the program’s future has been threatened.

Most recently, after submitting a formal comment to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on DACA, President John J. DeGioia issued a formal statement in August 2022, applauding the Biden Administration’s steps to codify and continue the program — and reinforcing the need for permanent legislative solutions to fully protect young DACA recipients.

“We welcome all efforts to protect the DACA program, including the Administration’s action, and we will continue to advocate for permanent protections and for expanding the DACA eligibility criteria for these young people and adults who have contributed so much to our campus and to our nation,” said DeGioia. “They deserve the ability to contribute their talents without fear.”

DeGioia himself has been a leading advocate for undocumented students: he is a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration; he has testified in support of the Dream Act before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security; sent letters to Congressional leaders; and hosts an annual luncheon to meet with undocumented students and DACA recipients.

“Georgetown is and has been a leader, being a powerful advocate to affirm the protections of DACA while providing platforms to uplift the voices of our students, not only for their future contributions to our workforce, but also as human beings in our beloved community,” said Dr. Jennifer Crewalk, associate director for Undocumented Student Services at Georgetown (USS).

Advocacy On Campus
In addition to Georgetown’s legal advocacy, the University has provided resources and support to DACA recipients on campus. The University offers need-based scholarships and maintains a need-blind admissions policy that applies to all applicants, including undocumented students. Through USS, Dr. Crewalk, a full-time director, provides a confidential space for students to share their experiences and access resources, including career guidance and free legal services through a partnership with Catholic Charities DC. USS also seeks to care for students’ physical, spiritual and mental well-being, particularly as the DACA program faces continual legal challenges and upheaval.

“While the benefits of DACA include a work permit, driver’s license, and some protection from deportation, it is still an emotional roller coaster for our students as they watch it unravel, knowing they may soon face what their younger peers, who are ineligible for DACA, have endured,” said Dr. Crewalk. “Our students are strong, motivated and resourceful, but they too can get weary. We offer many resources, but can also accompany students in times of doubt and pain.”

To ensure Georgetown is meeting students where they are, the Undocumented Student Task Force, made up of allies and leaders from across campus, also works to identify institutional access barriers to resources and support the creation of new resources aligned with what students say is important to them, according to Dr. Crewalk.

The Future of DACA
Dr. Lee Jones, dean for medical education at Georgetown’s School of Medicine, has worked to support and advocate for DACA students and medical education throughout his career at medical schools and through his work with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), where he serves as chair-elect of its board of directors.

“Diversity, of all sorts, enhances our Georgetown community, education and training and, ultimately, the care our graduates give to our communities,” said Dr. Jones. “DACA students bring invaluable gifts, talents, experiences, expertise and relationships to medicine, and we need to meet these students where they are and help them reach their full potential, because we need them.”

As Lucy nears the end of medical school, she’s eager to lift up other DACA students, too — aware that too few DACA students are able to train at medical schools. She’s made a step-by-step guide for Dreamers interested in medicine at her state college and mentors them. At Georgetown, where she has received scholarship support and financial aid, she has worked with the School of Medicine’s Council of Diversity Affairs to propose ideas for supporting students applying to medical school.

“As I near the end of medical school, I want to leave something behind,” she said. “There’s no point in having this knowledge and being in this position if I’m not going to help lift others up. I want to build a more robust path for Dreamers.”

At Georgetown, this advocacy continues. “Through their activism, academic redemption and community building, many of our undocumented students have the talent to ‘go forth and set the world on fire,’ yet are held back by outdated federal policies — left with a premier education but an unknown future. So our advocacy continues,” said Dr. Crewalk. “Universities like Georgetown and similar mission-driven universities have tremendous impact in protecting and developing our students. We all need to be involved in this conversation.”

Contributed by the Georgetown University Office of Strategic Communications

Staff from USF’s Immigration & Deportation Defense Clinic (photo courtesy of the University of San Francisco)


Defending the rights of migrants is one of the most pressing social issues of our times and one that Pope Francis has made clear should be at the center of our faith practice. Jesuit colleges and universities have a responsibility to not only meet the needs of undocumented students, but to set an example of what it means to live out our faith in higher education. Since the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ten years ago, the University of San Francisco (USF) has strengthened its support and defense of our undocumented students.

Support Services for Undocumented Students
At USF, the Working Group to Support Undocumented Students is housed in the Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) Office. The group, comprised of students, staff and faculty from across campus, sponsors Undocu-Ally Trainings for faculty and staff; plans events related to undocumented student issues and immigrant rights; and serves as a point of connection around undocumented student issues. This group also administers the Magis Fellowship, a university fellowship that selects a small number of undergraduate and graduate students to develop innovative projects that address specific barriers and challenges faced by undocumented students. There are also initiatives across campus that seek to support undocumented students at USF, including the Undocumented Student Scholarship in the School of Education. These initiatives seek to raise awareness and provide solidarity with members of the USF community who are undocumented, connecting our Jesuit mission with an agenda that advances immigrant rights.

A cornerstone of this work is the ways in which students stand in solidarity with one another. The creation of the Magis Fellowship for undergraduate students was a student-led initiative led by the campus’ LUNA club (Latinx Undergrad Network of Activists). This fellowship was established through funds collected from student fees and granted by the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF) Senate. Undocumented undergraduate students in the fellowship have created a student organization called UMAP (Undocumented Migrant Association Program) and undocumented graduate students founded a student organization called Dismantling Walls. Dismantling Walls supports undocumented undergraduates and graduate students at USF by fundraising to increase access to scholarships for undocumented students, and focuses on changing the dialogue regarding the needs of the undocumented students on campus. There are also informal networks of support, community and advocacy that are a lifeline for undocumented students on campus.

DACA: Then and Now
The history of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is complicated. In 2010, Congress came within a few votes short of passing the DREAM Act, leaving DREAMers and their allies extremely disappointed. Finally in 2012, former President Barack Obama announced that DREAMers would be granted deferred action and employment authorization for at least two years, with the possibility of renewals. Under the directive, deferred action could be granted on a case-by-case basis to individuals who met the following criteria: they came to the United States when they were younger than 16; had continuously resided in the United States for at least five years; and were in school, had graduated from high school, had obtained a GED or were honorably discharged veterans of the armed forces. Eventually, about 800,000 individuals applied for and received benefit of the DACA program.

Almost ten years later, a coalition of nine states challenged the legality of DACA and prevailed. In 2021, a federal judge ruled that the creation and implementation of DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act and that DACA was inconsistent with federal law. The Biden Administration appealed the decision, but the appellate court agreed with the judge. However, because the Biden Administration has promulgated a new DACA rule, the appeals court sent the matter back to a federal judge to consider the new version of DACA. In the meantime, 600,000 DACA holders can continue to work and obtain extensions, but no new applications are being accepted.

The legality of DACA is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the next two years. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is expected to agree that the President does not have the authority to grant at least the employment authorization part of DACA. Since the Supreme Court’s composition has changed, a decision on DACA will likely result in a 6-3 decision against the program.

What this means is that if DACA is terminated by the Supreme Court, as is expected, the President likely still has the power to refrain from deporting DACA recipients, but their employment authorization will no longer be renewable. Given that scenario, DACA recipients and all DREAMers need the DREAM Act to be passed by Congress, which they are hoping will happen in the current lame duck session. The DREAM Act would provide a legalization program for DREAMers that includes a pathway toward U.S. citizenship.

DREAMers and other immigrant rights advocates are working urgently on the passage of the DREAM Act today. At USF, the School of Law’s Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic is working with businesses across the country to make their support of the DREAM Act widely known, as well as assisting with DACA extension assistance and immigration counseling.

While we have built some important programs and practices at USF, we need to do more. We need to continue to listen to and document the experiences of our undocumented undergraduate and graduate students; envision and enact meaningful programming and processes to support their success; and prioritize resources to support migrants.

Mario Gonzalez is the Assignments Coordinator in USF’s Office of Student Housing, Division of Student Life, and a member of the Working Group to Support Undocumented Students at USF. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales is an Associate Professor in the School of Education, and a member of the Working Group to Support Undocumented Students at USF. Bill Ong Hing is a Professor in USF’s School of Law, and serves as Director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic.

By Mario Gonzalez, Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales & Bill Ong Hing, University of San Francisco

To be rooted is to be radical…We are called together to radically renew the world by the witness of the Martyrs, one another, and the Ignatian family. Rooted in truth we have all we need to do the work of renewing the earth.

– Dr. Beth Ford McNamee
Participants at the 2022 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (photo courtesy of Ignatian Solidarity Network)


From October 22-24, 2022, more than 2,000 individuals gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s 25th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ).

The 2022 theme, Rooted and Renewing, invited attendees to root themselves in the history of the Teach-In and the legacy of the Jesuit Martyrs and their companions—killed in 1989 in El Salvador for their commitment to standing with the oppressed—and to renew a commitment to addressing today’s injustices with creativity, courage and resilience—traits embodied by the first Teach-In in Fort Benning in Georgia twenty-five years ago.

The weekend’s keynote speakers included Bill McKibben, Maka Black Elk, and Olga Segura. The first evening keynote was delivered by Bill McKibben, an author, educator, and renowned climate activist who founded the first global grassroots climate campaign,, as well as Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 to work on climate and racial justice.

He spoke of the critical work of shifting from a global dependence on fossil fuels, and emphasized the need for intergenerational commitment—heralding the commitment of young people as leaders in the work to avert climate crises. “We don’t know how this story will turn out, we don’t know who will win the fight,” he said, “but we do know that you have brothers and sisters from every corner of the world who are grateful for your efforts, and who are with you in solidarity.”

The first day of the Teach-In concluded with the Prayer for the Jesuit Martyrs, an annual IFTJ tradition honoring the lives of the Jesuit Martyrs and other lay and religious who have given their lives in the service of faith and justice. The 2022 prayer included an added element of inviting attendees to place white crosses bearing the names of those impacted by injustices in fencing at the front of the ballroom, where the event was being held. This served as a reminder of the vigil at the gate of Fort Benning in Georgia that called attention to the U.S. role in human rights abuses in El Salvador and other countries and the annual event from which the first IFTJ arose.

On the second day, keynote speaker Maka Black Elk, director of Truth and Healing for Red Cloud Indian School, spoke about the legacy of abuse against Indigenous people at Jesuit and Catholic-run boarding schools, designed to erase Indigenous culture. “The Catholic Church should never have been involved in the running of residential schools whose explicit purpose was to eradicate Indigenous identity and spirituality,” he said. “The visit from Pope Francis to Canada [last summer] marks a huge step on an ongoing journey towards healing. But the actual work of reconciliation is not in his hands. Through his apology, he has called on the whole Body of Christ in the churches of North America to enter into right relationship with its Indigenous peoples…Our call in our baptism toward reconciliation and love tells us that healing is possible and that we are worthy. We need to ask this of our Church.”

The final keynote speaker of the weekend was Olga Segura, author of Birth of a Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church. She spoke of racial justice movement work, explaining that “community building [is] a way to create…systems outside of the violence in our world.” She emphasized that solidarity work necessitates “a dialogue around power: who has it, and who does not.” She called upon white Catholics—clergy and lay people—to not become complacent in racial justice work, to “imagine and create new ways to be Catholic allies.”

Rev. Ted Gabrielli, S.J. at Mass (photo courtesy of Ignatian Solidarity Network)


The second day concluded with a Mass presided by Rev. Ted Gabrielli, S.J. Other mainstage speakers throughout the weekend touched on racial and cultural equity and inclusion, sustainability and ethical purchasing, climate justice, and immigration reform.

Speakers throughout the weekend were complemented by art as a form of activism and social analysis. Francisco Herrera, a musician and longtime IFTJ artist-in-residence, was joined on the event’s mainstage by The Peace Poets, who first attended IFTJ in 2018 as keynote speakers. Their presence elevated the energy in the room through music and storytelling. Kate Marshall, facilitator of the House of Hagar Catholic Worker in Wheeling, WV, presented Rooted Growth, a dynamic and collaborative art experience focused on the year’s IFTJ theme.

The annual event culminated with a public witness in Washington, D.C.’s Union Square, with more than 1,000 individuals then attending advocacy meetings on Capitol Hill, asking Congressional members to act for humane immigration reform and climate action.

By Kelly Swan, Director of Communications, Ignatian Solidarity Network

This article is re-issued in Connections with permission from the Ignatian Solidarity Network; click here to view the original article (with more photos and videos) on the ISN website.

An anniversary is always important to mark. Sometimes, our observances are celebratory; sometimes, they are low-key or even somber. As we mark significant milestones for several federal programs highlighted in this issue of Connections, we reflect with gratitude on the positive impact that these programs have made on students, faculty, staff and institutions within our Jesuit community.

In recent years, each program has faced threats and challenges. The articles contributed here by our Jesuit colleges and universities reinforce the importance of DACA, Title IX and Pell Grants to our campus communities. In the months ahead, we anticipate new and final regulations and/or court decisions to determine the direction and fate of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). We will see final regulations that establish new rules for the Title IX program and, hopefully this month, Congress will set a funding level for the maximum Pell Grant award. Through advocacy and engagement, we hope to ensure these programs remain on strong footing and that our higher education community will once again be celebrating the benefits of these programs long into the future.

DACA: It has been ten years since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (then led by Secretary Janet Napolitano under the Obama Administration) established the DACA program. Today, this policy faces some of the most serious threats since its creation in 2012. DACA is a policy that provides certain individuals with temporary relief from deportation and the authorization to work in the United States. 800,000 people have benefited from DACA, which includes opportunities to pursue a post-secondary education. They have served on the front lines during the pandemic in fields of teaching, healthcare, public safety, and more.

DACA had been accepted, established policy until recent efforts were made (under the previous Administration) to eliminate the program. A series of legal challenges have left DACA hanging by a thread – causing extraordinary uncertainty for current recipients. The Biden Administration has offered new rules to strengthen and fortify DACA but, in the end, advocates and leaders in Congress must pass legislation that will establish permanent protections and a pathway toward citizenship for current DACA recipients and DREAMERS. Legislative action is the only way to truly provide needed security for this community. AJCU continues to advocate for permanent protections and legal status for DACA recipients, as well as Dreamers.

Pell Grants: Fifty years ago, a new program called the Basic Education Opportunity Grant was authorized by Congress as part of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972. This new grant was provided directly to students with demonstrated economic need, who were allowed to use it to pursue post-secondary education at the institution of their choice. To date, it remains the single largest source of federal grant aid supporting postsecondary education students, having provided assistance to over 80 million students (Congressional Research Service).

In 1980, the program was renamed for its founder, the late U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). While its successes are many, there is still room for improvement: for example, at some institutions, Pell students’ graduation rates are lower than their non-Pell peers. Last fiscal year, Congress included a $500 increase to the maximum Pell; this was its largest increase in ten years, and brought the total of the maximum Pell Grant to $6,895. The House and Senate Democratic proposals for FY23 include another $500 increase to the maximum grant. The Biden Administration, advocates, and many in Congress have rallied around proposals to double the maximum Pell grant to $13,000 over the next five years (H.R.394). AJCU knows that Pell is a foundational tool in making a Jesuit education accessible and affordable to more students. We will be pushing hard to realize the $500 increase before the year’s end. In a convergence, the Biden Administration has also proposed extending Pell eligibility (as well as eligibility for other federal student aid dollars) to DACA recipients.

Title IX: 2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX: the landmark gender equity legislation. Title IX, championed by the late U.S. Representative Patsy Mink (D-HI) and signed into law by former President Richard Nixon, prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity that receives any type of federal financial aid. This far-reaching law covers students enrolled in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions, demanding equal treatment and equal participation in educational opportunities and sports. It also offers protections for individuals from sexual assault and harassment, practices that hinder opportunities to learn.

The last three Administrations have proposed rules to guide the implementation of Title IX, each imposing their own priorities and interpretation of the program. These rules outline procedures for investigations of Title IX reports; specific information on how Title IX cases must be adjudicated on campuses; and details on who is required to report violations of Title IX. Most recently, the Biden Administration has offered new regulations (released on the 50th anniversary of Title IX) that protect students on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity with the goal of providing an educational environment free from discrimination. AJCU joined other higher education associations in submitting comments in response to the proposed regulations (to date, the U.S. Department of Education has received more than 240,000 comments). After review, the regulations will be finalized and published.

Title IX, Pell Grants and DACA are three foundational programs that have had an outsized impact on post-secondary educational access for women, for individuals with economic need, and for immigrants. Because of these programs, post-secondary education has evolved to become more inclusive and more accessible. As we mark these anniversaries this year, we have the opportunity to acknowledge progress while also acknowledging how much more must be done to truly realize the intention for the establishment of these programs. We must continue to strive for equity, accessibility and inclusiveness, and work to ensure our campus communities are places where learning can flourish.

By Jenny Smulson, Vice President of Government Relations, AJCU