Motivated by her experience and belief in person and community-centered solutions, WomenLead Scholarship recipient Simone Ruskamp is pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at Howard University.
“At my core, I believe that community can heal,” Simone says. “In practice, my faith looks like social work and social advocacy, where I have now invested nine years of my professional life.”
Simone has worked as a live-in staff member at a crisis maternity home, as a case manager and most recently as a community college advisor. Through these roles, she says that she has learned to center the needs of the impacted person, rather than her own personal experience and to validate different means of communications and expressions.
“I often met people on the worst days or months of their lives, but my faith helped me center each person as a reflection of the creator, and thus deserving of support and healing,” Simone says. “My faith pushed me to unapologetically love and organize my community.”
With an emphasis on family and child welfare, Simone plans to use her Master’s degree to continue direct practice in a school or community center setting to equip families and communities with the means to create and envision their own solutions. Long-term, she would like to formalize her own community organizing efforts by creating community accessible curriculum around equity and power building.
“I thank you, scholarship committee, for investing in me and reminding me of the need for a global community that is responsive and compassionate towards even strangers,” Simone says. “I am excited to begin this journey and am committed to continue striving for healthier communities.”
The Chris Andersen WomenLead Scholarship recognizes the need for diverse leadership in ministry, nonprofits and civic organizations and seeks to accelerate the extraordinary leadership of diverse women of faith to lead change by using their talents to educate, advocate and activate.
Through InFaith, donors have the opportunity to create their own scholarship fund, make a grant to InFaith’s Field of Interest Fund in Education from their InFaith donor advised fund or give directly to their church’s InFaith Endowment Fund.