Human Rights Journalist Inspires Bethel Students

June 5, 2012 | 2:04 p.m.

By Nicole Finsaas ’14

Human Rights Journalist Inspires Bethel Students

Christa Hillstrom speaks to a group of Bethel University students. (Photo Credit: Andrew Reynen)

Advocacy journalist Christa Hillstrom recently spoke to about 35 members of the Bethel community. Hillstrom works as the web managing editor at YES! Magazine, a nonprofit publication empowering people to make the world a better place socially, politically, and environmentally.

Hillstrom’s presentation was sponsored by Bethel’s Johnson Center for Journalism and Communication, a program that brings Christian journalists from around the country to campus.

Phyllis Alsdurf, associate professor of English and head of the journalism program, says her students were inspired by Hillstrom’s work. “The students in my class were especially inspired by how you can make a difference through writing and video production,” says Alsdurf. “She provided a really good illustration of journalism that makes a difference in a positive way.” Hillstrom also met with students in Alsdurf’s class the day after her presentation. “She was somebody that students could really relate to,” continues Alsdurf.

After living in India and studying the community for about three months, Hillstrom shared her experience through a documentary on tuberculosis patients in Delhi. Bill Norton, assistant professor of English, says Hillstrom’s work gives dignity and worth to those who otherwise might have none. “Anytime you are exposing or bringing to light human suffering and helping the public become aware of it with the idea that people can do something about it, that’s what the gospel, at least for me, is all about. The motivation here is God centered, trying to treat people with a great degree of dignity and honor,” says Norton.

Norton believes Hillstrom is a role model for students. “Her humility is blended with intense curiosity and an attitude of confidence,” he says. “The passion she brings for what she is doing and how she is doing it ought to be an encouragement to our students.”

Hillstrom recently became a board member for the Johnson Center for Journalism and Communication at Bethel. The Johnson Center sponsors student internships, a journalist-in-residence program, the annual “Journalism Through the Eyes of Faith” conference, and presentations.

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