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Stories

Practicing Gratitude and Finding Joy

Reflections of Ignatian Fellow Alexis Takagi ’22

Ignatian Fellow Alexis Takagi

 

New for the 2020 academic year, the Ignatian Fellowship offered SCU undergraduates the opportunity to deepen their commitment to social justice through an entirely virtual community-based learning experience.

This inaugural year we had 14 amazing Ignatian fellows, including Alexis Takagi '22 who completed her fellowship working with the Northern California Innocence Project. In the following reflections, Alexis shares her experience.

 

 


Discuss the significance of this fellowship in your life and your SCU experience in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Ignatian Fellowship grounded me as I navigated a new university and modality of academia. The fellowship facilitated small group meetings among fellows that were rooted in mindfulness, gratitude, and reflection of our shared experiences both in our relative placements and our experiences in the pandemic. The opportunity to connect with fellow Broncos during this isolating time helped me feel more connected to Santa Clara University and its value of empowering communities. My placement organization was the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP), a non-profit clinical program of Santa Clara University School of Law. Through this experience, I was able to connect with the larger Santa Clara community by attending NCIP events and having conversations with the nonprofit's clients and student volunteers.


What about this fellowship enhanced your experience of virtual learning during this particularly challenging time?

The Ignatian Fellowship and my work at the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) brought a sense of hope and community to the digital space. One year in the pandemic has led to a remote learning and work routine that can become uninspiring without mindfulness and self-care. Being an Ignatian Fellow sparked my creativity and engaged my mind and spirit in something larger than myself. This new sense of belonging permeated into my overall presence at Santa Clara University. My primary responsibility at NCIP was developing their listening project titled ‘I am Innocent’ that was centered around having authentic conversations with exonerees, student volunteers, and employees on the non-profit organization. The Coronavirus pandemic has proved that it is difficult to connect with people using technology, a lean medium of communication. Luckily, my role at NCIP gave me the opportunity to connect with others and engage in important conversations surrounding the nonprofit's three pillars of exonerate, educate, and reform. Being able to meet and connect with others during this unprecedented time has significantly contributed to my success as a student. The fellowship provided me with the tools such as mindfulness practices and inspired me to persist with my goals, despite the standstill of the pandemic.


What does this tell you about who you are and what you value?

As cheesy as this sounds, my experience as an Ignatian Fellow taught me that it is all about the journey, not the destination. My favorite part of this experience was constantly being able to lean in, engage, and learn about the Northern California Innocence Project and its purpose of building a compassionate criminal justice system. NCIP further challenges wrongful convictions through education by holding training and symposia for the criminal justice community, collaborating with prosecutors, defense attorneys, forensic experts, and more! Educating myself on the reasons for wrongful conviction and current legislation strengthened the conversations that I had developing and executing the listening project. The process of brainstorming, reading scholarly articles, and pivoting ideas for each episode, was all part of the larger journey.

Throughout this experience, the Ignatian Fellowship reminded me to practice gratitude and to find joy in the little things like journaling and coffee. Utilizing the mindfulness practices that I learned from the small group meetings and tending to my work at NCIP kept me balanced as I navigated the transferring to a new school.


I Am Innocent Podcast
As part of her fellowship, Alexis led the creation of a podcast to provide a more personal way to engage the public with NCIP's work of challenging wrongful convictions by interviewing exonerees and other stakeholders involved with the non-profit. In one of the interviews, Alexis spoke with Obie Anthony, founder of Exonerated Nation, about the notion of presumption of innocence and the challenges within the transition of post-conviction. The conversation was publised on StoryCorps and aired on National Public Radio (NPR). 

Watch the conversation here:
I AM INNOCENT | A CONVERSATION WITH OBIE ANTHONY