Vanessa Gomez-Brake

The IRI awarded the 2018 Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Interreligious Leadership Award to MDiv student Vanessa Gomez-Brake. As Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, Vanessa supports and promotes broadly-conceived religious and spiritual life at the University. Her IRI microgrant was used to host an on-campus storytelling event focused on migration and movement in response to recent changes to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Submissions were reflections on the stories we are told from our sacred texts, religious traditions, and classic literature, as well as how those stories inform our values and actions. Vanessa’s vision for the evening was realized with six students sharing their stories, in a variety of forms, engaging attendees to “learn about wordviews they had not previously known about and step away with more nuanced perspectives on why people migrate.”