University of St. Thomas Magazine Fall/Winter 2020

your most vulnerable and make you feel like you belong,” she said. Vargas was impressed by the diverse group of speakers that talked to Tommie Corps students about their experiences.

Tommie Corps went beyond the realm of volunteering; it also included a built-in social justice component. “When we were getting this program set up, the killing of George Floyd happened, followed by the uprising in the Twin Cities and then the world,” said Casey Gordon, Tommie Corps director and Center for the Common Good programmanager.

The site where George Floyd was killed has become a powerful place of mourning and remembrance, and it belongs to the community. We have included this photograph – which shows a portrait mural of George Floyd created by Peyton Scott Russell – because it centers on Black experiences and voices. This portrait mural is included in the George Floyd and Anti-Racist Street Art database. Photo by Mark Brown.

“This knowledge has been critical in the work we are doing to make us better volunteers …as well as the work we will continue to do moving forward in our lives,” she said. Racial Justice Action Plan After George Floyd’s death, a series of emotion-filled meetings held last summer for law school students, faculty and staff led to a commitment to making changes. With input from the School of Law community, the Racial Justice Action Plan was created. “It’s not simply a response to the murder of George Floyd; it’s a response to the racial inequities in our society and in the Twin Cities particularly, that the murder of George Floyd underscored in a very painful way,” School of Law Dean Robert Vischer said.

“We knew we needed to have racial equity and racial justice be a lens that we use in all of our Tommie Corps talks.” Aside from volunteering, the program held learning sessions hosted by professors, staff members or community members on topics such as power and privilege. Training sessions for students also were scheduled. Tommie Corps member Dessi Vargas said her time with Keystone Community Services working with people from a wide range of backgrounds will help in her future career. A senior studying biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, Vargas hopes to one day work in the medical field. “I’ve learned that it is really hard to ask for help, but that becomes much easier when you have a community that is designed to be there for you at

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