By Cat Swindal
“Let us learn solidarity. Without solidarity our faith is dead.” This quote by Pope Francis demonstrates the need for people to be one with one another. It also happens to be Hannah Ervin’s, FCRH ’18, favorite quote. Solidarity is something that Ervin has felt, learned about and lived out every day since she first stepped on Fordham College Rose Hill’s grounds.
When Ervin came to Fordham three years ago from Orange County, CA, she felt like anyone else would after moving across the country: anxious and homesick.
“The transition was really rough,” Ervin said. However, she quickly found solidarity in the Manresa program in Loyola Hall, where she met her best friends. She also found solidarity with Fordham faculty. “I had so many good experiences with professors and advisors, who really stuck their necks out for me,” Ervin said. “They were so comforting.”
As friendships and relationships grew stronger for Ervin at Fordham, she began looking for other ways to be in solidarity. When she came to campus, she became enveloped in the social justice issues in the Bronx community. “That wasn’t on my radar in California,” Ervin said. “I came from a very privileged town.”
She very quickly became involved in social justice, both in her majors and in her extra-curriculars.
“I had never done something similar to a service project before, and I very quickly got into a community that was interested in talking about social and economic injustices in the Bronx,” she said.
Ervin’s strong compassion has shaped a lot of her experiences at Fordham. As a humanitarian studies and theology double major and Russian studies minor, Ervin is learning how to be a humanitarian aide. She decided to be a humanitarian studies major after her Global Outreach trip to Romania.
She was very much struck by the social injustice in Romania that she witnessed on the trip.
“It was blatant social injustice,” Ervin said. “The people who weren’t benefitting from the system were so helpless.”
That trip, therefore, inspired her major and beyond. Although she struggles with the “paternalistic” nature of humanitarian work in its most basic form, she feels that Fordham has challenged students to observe this quality.
“I feel like I’m being trained to be a good humanitarian aid,” she said.
Along with her major, Ervin has been a great asset to the social justice community here at Fordham through her leadership position at UNICEF. This past semester, she was the committee head for UNICEF for the emergency relief committee. She was in charge of Rams for Refugees Week in early November, in which the goal was to increase awareness about the refugee crisis and other humanitarian crises through a life vest simulation on McGinley lawn and a movie screening with the head of the humanitarian studies department.
She has also been active in the social justice community off campus. She interned in the New York office for the International Rescue Committee last spring and summer, where she helped clients, who were often settled refugees, find ESL classes and further their education.
As she continues to find solidarity with other people, she also finds solidarity with her faith in her theology major. She was inspired to double major in theology after taking Christ and World Cultures with professor Elizabeth Johnson.
“She absolutely changed my view on Christ and who God is,” Ervin said. “That was something that was very transformative for me.”
Through it all, Ervin says that her friends, whom she called “fruitful people in my life” keep her grounded.
“My friends are constantly making me into a better person,” she said. “They challenge ideas on what is fair and right and just.”
By being a wonderful, dedicated and compassionate person, Ervin continues to be in solidarity with her friends, her Fordham community, the Bronx community and beyond. The world has a little more faith with her in it.