Participant Comments

The Social Justice Training Institute provides an intensive developmental opportunity for social justice educators to examine the complex dynamics of RACE AND RACISM and to focus on how to develop their personal competencies as trainers and practitioners.


"Before SJTI, I sought to be the good, white ally because it made me feel more comfortable. During SJTI, I felt discomfort, pain and confusion. And that is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I used to take off my social justice hat when the work became too heavy or too awkward for me, and now I understand what a privilege that is. Seeking social justice is a part of me now, so I speak. And I speak. And I speak."
Shannon Marthouse, University of New Hampshire, Class of 2006

Our First Class - 1998 - Springfield, MA

class of 1998
  "SJTI broke me down to build me up. The experience was mine to give and mine to receive; I think the only way I was able to get so many gems out of it was because I took risks, I pushed through my pride and allowed myself to be vulnerable, to tell the truth about myself and others. SJTI in my life was long overdue, and so I was certainy ready as a Black Woman to face my dominant and subordinated places in the face & say 'I won't allow you to take my spirit away-I won't allow you to cease my breath-I won't allow you to take my voice'. SJTI has given me the language to challenge those people I work, live and play with on their privilege gently and patiently."
Leah Prescott, Dartmouth College (NH), Class of 2006
"I went into the vortex of SJTI not realizing that it was a vortex at all. The spinning within it was difficult, painful, and awesome. When I came out, I was disoriented and hurt but now the haze is clearing and I realize just how much work I have to do. SJTI was one of the best experiences I have had and it helped me to realize that I am enough!"
Alissa R. King, Iowa State University, Class of 2006
  "As I apply the competencies I claimed and nurtured at SJTI, I'm continuously enlightening and empowering my appreciation for how moment-to-moment actions are part of a continuum of cause and effect that creates social and personal transformation. Though I have been doing social justice work for years, the SJTI experience profoundly increased my consciousness, effectiveness, creativity and satisfaction in doing the work. SJTI is for anybody seeking the opportunity to grow and unfold without hindrance."
Rushika Patel, University of North Texas, Class of 2005
  "SJTI was a life changing experience for me and the education continues well beyond the institute. It was painful and wonderful all at the same time. I am so appreciative of the experience I had in Tucson and I have become a better person since then. At SJTI I began the process of understanding my identity and have thus become a better partner, advocate, friend, and educator. I am so appreciative of those who helped enlighten me and were enlightened by me."
Sara Furr, Loyola College Maryland, Class of 2005
"SJTI opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about oppression and racism. Not only of my own experiences of being oppressed as a Latina and as a woman. In this institute I was forced to think about how I oppress others, whether in thoughts or inadvertent actions. It was painful to admit, but oh so necessary in the work that I do for social justice. I learned that change has to happen first within ourselves before we can convince others. I am forever grateful for this life changing experience."
Sofia Bautista Pertuz, Wagner College (NY), Class of 2004
  "My experience at the institute has been transformative. I am more aware of my triggers and the areas I need to work on in order to continue to fight racism and racist processes in my environment. The institute helped my gain the strength and momentum I need to keep up the fight and help create solidarity within my community."
Leilani Kupo, Wesleyan University (CT), Class of 2004
  "SJTI provided me the opportunity to face very personal issues surrounding race and privilege that I had not done in an open and honest way. I was challenged on so many levels, and I am better able to challenge those I work with because of this experience. I left recommitted to making a difference."
Josh Walehwa, Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 2004
"SJTI was one of the most meaningful experiences that I have ever had personally and professionally. It has provided me with a more in depth perspective not only on race and racism, but also on other social identities and the oppressions surrounding them. It also provided me with a wonderful community of people whom I wouldn't hesitate to contact in the future."
Irene Kao, University of New Hampshire, Class of 2004
  “The SJTI experience is rooted in me through the resources, the people and the knowledge I draw strength from daily. I’ve been able to increase my capacity for achievement in the Social Justice work I do professionally and personally.”
J. Sarah Gonzales, YMCA of Tucson, Class of 2004
  "SJTI allowed me to face, head on, many of the challenges I had been facing as a gay man of color. My experience opened new doors as to how I work with others for education purposes. Personally, I had many weights lifted off of me from years of stifling feelings and opinions about myself and others. Professionally, I have been able to challenge, be challenged by and work with colleagues in the advancement of social justice for all."
Kenrick Ali, University of San Francisco, Class of 2004
"SJTI enabled me to confront my own issues, to learn about myself and the racist society in which we live, and to consider action steps that I can take in my teaching, my institution, and my life. It was an incredible experience."
Nancy Evans, Iowa State University, Class of 2003
  "SJTI more than met my expectations. The Institute was a life changing event that has helped me find my authentic self. It has given me the tools to initiate conversations with colleagues and to being to make positive change in our world."
Vanessa Mayfield, University of Maryland, Class of 2003
  "I went to SJTI hoping to learn how to better train & teach others about social justice issues; I left realizing that the best way I can teach, train, mentor, coach is to come to terms with my own racism, fears, stereotypes, and be patient with my own growth. I also learned how important it is for me as a member of several dominant groups to not give up on myself or others - I can make an important impact on others like me."
Patricia Anton, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2003
"I have attended several race relations/racism workshops, but SJTI was different. It gave me an opportunity to gather in a space with other educators to explore and learn about ourselves and others. It was a time to self-reflect on our experiences in a challenging and supportive environment. I will always remember this learning experience."
Mounira Morris, Allegheny College, Class of 2003
  "SJTI showed me that through taking a deeper and more honest look at myself - unlike I had ever really done - I could ultimately be of better service to those around me. I am so very thankful to have had this experience."
Kristen Wentworth, Penn State University, Class of 2003
  "I left SJTI knowing that I am the best I have got. This had a sad connotation for a few days but began to gain momentum and power until I truly realized that it is "self as instrument" that really affects my work. I implore every and anyone that believes that their purpose is to teach, train, instruct, or lead to take the next scheduled SJTI. You truly can emerge as only one thing - your whole both/and self."
Jessica Pettitt, New York University, Class of 2003
"I cannot talk highly enough about my experience at SJTI. I will say that this Institute is not for everyone. You must be willing to look inward in order to be more authentic outward. You must be willing to let go and experience the race immersion --if you keep it at a distance, you will not grow as an individual. You must be willing to see how you are a piece of the power and privilege in today's world on multiple levels."
Laura Giles, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Class of 2003
  "Before I went to SJTI I felt pretty comfortable in my identity as an activist who didn't have as much to learn as others anymore. SJTI shook me right out of that comfort zone and pushed me to look at some of those hard issues I was avoiding. I left feeling renewed, humbled, and deeply awakened."
Victoria Bookstein, University of California - Davis, Class of 2003
  “Upon ‘graduation’ from SJTI, I was feeling invigorated to take on the work back on my campus, supported by a new network of allies, and eager to make fast changes & a strong impact. I've learned since taking time to reflect on the experience over the past 1 1/2 years that the impact SJTI has on its participants is both an exhilarating rush as well as, and perhaps more importantly, a gradual life-long change in oneself. SJTI has completely shaped who I am as a professional as well as a human being. It has made me keenly aware of my constant power & privilege and how I can intentionally choose to use these for the betterment of everyone around me, not just myself.”
Trish Wolfe Anton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2003
"I highly recommend this experience for those who need a shot in the arm and an opportunity to spend some time learning with like minded anti racism educators."
Sandra Spiegel, University of Vermont, Class of 2002
  "The institute far exceeded any expectations I could have had. I knew coming to the institute was supposed to be a transformational experience but I don't believe I could have envisioned how true that could have been and how exactly the institute and people would touch me. I am so very lucky to have had this opportunity."
Ray Gasser, University of Arizona, Class of 2002
  "Who I am, how I see the world and all that I do as a diversity educator has undergone a complete revolution as a result of the Social Justice Training Institute. The 'before' and 'after' pictures of my very soul share little resemblance."
Tom Segar, Educational Trainer and Consultant, Class of 2002
"What can I say about an experience that both honors your journey on this planet as a racialized being yet challenges you to look at yourself critically? SJTI is a gentle revolution; one in which a cadre of social change agents are being formed. Thank you for the opportunity to change my life forever..."
Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, University of Michigan, Class of 2002
  "SJTI was not another diversity workshop or a momentary attempt to "honor" our differences. This experience gave me a first hand look at myself and the lens by which I view the world and the people that I encounter from day to day."
Renique Quick, Johns Hopkins University, Class of 2002
  "Words cannot explain how SJTI transforms your inner person. SJTI has given me a new passion and drive for Multicultural Education. I continue my SJTI teachings in everything I do, from my diversity consulting organization to conducting personal diversity assessment and projects. SJTI carries a flame, which one could only hope would spread through our profession and world like a brushfire."
Brian C. Steinberg, Waldorf College (IA), Class of 2002
"This was a life-changing event as I began to really look at myself and my role as a racial/racist being. I have worked for many years to educate others and myself in the area of diversity. I thought I had come far in my self-awareness and that I was really educated. At SJTI I came to realize, through much challenging and probing, that I am just at the beginning of this great journey. I feel like I am changing every day and am becoming even more direct, honest and confrontive."
Christa Sandelier, Colorado State University, Class of 2002
  “SJTI was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had. Not only did it affirm myself in my own personal identity, it also was a catalyst that propelled me into a line of work where I must advocate for change and justice in our communities.”
Edward Z. Ableser, Arizona State University, Class of 2002
  "Attending SJTI provided me with the opportunity to reflect on not only my professional experience as an educator, but my personal encounters with oppression and how that affects my work. I was challenged beyond what I was prepared for, yet came away with a life-altering experience that has significantly contributed to my growth as a human being."
RJ Holmes, Washington University, Class of 2001
"SJTI gave me the ability to identify the daily oppressions I both suffer and perpetuate. I began my time there arrogantly prepared to change the world and left with the tools to transform myself."
Rachel Wagner, University of Arizona, Class of 2000
  "Words cannot express how SJTI touched my soul. SJTI works on making change with the foundation for the person, not simply with the work that you do."
Penny Pasque, University of Michigan, Class of 2000
  “SJTI was an excellent experience. I felt I was challenged to think more complexly about the issues of justice and that the experience of our group enriched me personally. The experience helps me to be optimistic ...knowing the work and concern of others I met at SJTI and some I am still in contact with.”
Sherwood Smith, University of Vermont, Class of 2000
"The SJTI is enlightening and life changing. It's the perfect environment to immerse yourself in the issues, as well as safely explore your values and stereotypes. I rarely find myself able to deal with me; so often we are in the driver's seat leading a workshop. The SJTI allows you to be a participant and do the self-work we preach to others."
John Fox, University of Denver, Class of 1999
  "I gained a wealth of practical knowledge and skill as well as the opportunity to have my eyes further opened by working will such skilled colleagues and facilitators."
Mike Poritt, Appalachian State University, Class of 1998
  "I have more than 25 years experience in anti racism and diversity work. This program uses one of the most powerful and compassionate approaches I have had the privilege of experiencing. It helps us understand each other by understanding ourselves. As a result we all become more fully human."
Dr. Jane Fried, Central Connecticut State University, Class of 1998