“I was able to have professors from different faiths, who exposed me to different faith traditions. It wasn’t all academia; the classes forced [me] to practice true community engagement, you need to be with the community, it can’t be all talk.”
Ms. Irma Cornier
Running for Chicago 31st Ward Alderman
Irma Cornier has always felt the call to serve others. When asked of this vocation, she will say, simply “I have a heart to serve… it’s part of my character, embedded in my DNA.” As Irma began to seek further education on how to best serve in an urban setting, she turned to SCUPE.
Ms. Cornier comes from humble beginnings. A Chicago native, Irma was raised in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood by a family of community based activists. In 2003, she became the first person in her family to obtain a college degree, a B.A. in media from Columbia College. In 2014, she earned her M.A. in Social Justice and Community Development from Loyola University in Chicago in just a single year, instead of the usual two. Cornier credits her diligent work ethic and high set of morals and values to her grandparents, whom she was raised by. Irma writes: “My grandfather taught me diligently that humanity is precious and must be protected and nourished by serving the community and acknowledging the importance of life, regardless of socio-economic background.”
Irma has been extremely involved with service through her local parish in Belmont Cragin, committing more than 15 years of service to the parish, in addition to service for a number of other organizations. She has coordinated numerous back to school rallies, health fairs, and free music events. Cornier’s cornerstone accomplishment was helping her grandfather to receive his purple heart for his services during the Korean War. She worked tirelessly for several years to help him receive this honor, which entailed multiple visits to the V.A., and numerous letters to politicians.
In 2012, as Ms. Cornier searched for ways to further her knowledge around serving in an Urban Community, she discovered SCUPE. SCUPE opened the door for Ms. Cornier to pursue a Master’s in Social Justice and Community Development at Loyola. SCUPE also allowed Ms. Cornier to take classes in SCUPE’s Center for African American Theological Studies (CAATS) and Advanced Latino(a) Theological Education (ALTE) certificate programs, which she feels were critical to providing her with a well-rounded education.
Cornier highlighted the contextual leadership classes and experience she was provided while at SCUPE as the most important component of her SCUPE education. She also feels that the chance to actually practice community development as a part of her academic training truly equipped her to serve in an urban context.
“The classes forced students to practice true community engagement, it wasn’t all academia,” Ms. Cornier says, “You need to be with the community, it can’t just be all talk.”
Ms. Cornier also highlighted the diversity of students and professors as a vital component to her SCUPE education. “I was able to have a wide array of different professors from different faiths, who were able to expose me to different faith traditions,” Irma Cornier states.
Having completed her Master’s degree, Irma Cornier is currently running for Alderman of the 31st Ward of Chicago, as she continues her journey of service to the city.