Trinity’s harvest

Trinity’s harvest

Sowing a legacy of activism and social justice for 15 years

Take a handful of Marquette graduate students with a proven commitment to service — veterans of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps and similar volunteer organizations. Give them free tuition and an opportunity to work for nearly two years with a local nonprofit. Watch what blooms in both the students and the community.

For 15 years that combination has proved fertile soil for Marquette’s Trinity Fellows Program, which was founded by the late Richard A. Burke, Bus Ad ’56, former president of Trek Corp. and a Marquette trustee emeritus. “Dick Burke’s goal was to attract talented, emerging leaders who are committed to social justice,” says Carole Ferrara, director of the Trinity Fellows Program. “He knew that most would want to go into the nonprofit sector, where they may not earn the kinds of salaries they would in the for-profit sector. Trinity enables students to graduate without debt so they can make that choice.”

This fall the Burke Foundation gave $1.65 million to enlarge the Trinity Fellows Program. The funds will allow the program to broaden its community reach by expanding from 10 fellows per two-year cohort to 15 fellows, as well as add an assistant director and alumni programming.

Since the program was established Trinity Fellows have worked with more than 60 organizations. “Many times our agencies talk about the legacies students leave,” Ferrara says. And Trinity Fellows have gone on to everything from diplomatic positions in the foreign service to activism to nonprofit leadership at local and national levels. — NE

Meet some past Trinity Fellows who continue to make a difference in Milwaukee.

Sara Milnar McLaughlinSarah Milnar McLaughlin, Comm ’06, Grad ’14, former Jesuit Volunteer Corps member
Now:  Director of partnerships and community engagement at the Center for Youth Engagement
Trinity placement:  Joseph and Vera Zilber Family Foundation
Trinity’s impact:  “My academic and workplace experience really changed my thinking on nonprofits. I came in thinking that good management translated to social impact. Now I realize that even well-run organizations need the right partners — and engaged community members — to have any real impact. There’s so much potential to make change when we all work toward the same goal. Now I help bring dozens of organizations together to increase opportunities for youth, and we’re getting somewhere.”

Jeremy AultJeremy Ault, Grad ’13, former AmeriCorps VISTA member
Now: American director of Diaconia ECCB – Center of Relief and Development, a Czech organization
Trinity placement:  Adult Learning Center
Trinity’s impact:  “The fact that I’m still in Milwaukee and have
a lot of personal and professional connections here is a testament to the Trinity Fellows Program. I’ve relied very heavily on my Trinity connections for advice and to provide inroads to foundations in my fundraising work. … I also absolutely adored the history program at Marquette. Working with nonprofits, I feel like every single day I’m seeing the current consequences of historical inequalities.”

Andrew MusgraveAndrew Musgrave, Grad ’08, former Capuchin Volunteer Corps member
Now: Director of social justice and outreach for a four-parish family
of churches — Our Lady of Divine Providence, Three Holy Women,
Old St. Mary, and Sts. Peter and Paul
Trinity placement:  Interfaith Older Adult Programs
Trinity’s impact:  “It’s hard to overemphasize how much of an impact Trinity has had on my present and my future. … Trinity gave me the outlet to learn more about the nonprofit world and to be a more productive and useful member of the third sector. It really gave me entry into this world of people committing their time, energy, resources and hearts to doing service and making this a better community. That’s what I’m still doing today and hope to do for the rest of my life.”


  1. I was in Richard Burke’s ’56 Bus Ad class. Until now I had not known of the great non-profit work he had done. Thanks for the article.

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