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HPU senior Caleb Kostreva reflects on summer internship with 21Wilberforce

Caleb KostrevaBROWNWOOD – November 14, 2018 – During the summer, Howard Payne University senior Caleb Kostreva had the opportunity to work with Christian human rights organization 21Wilberforce through a 10-week internship program.

Kostreva, a native of Clifton, Colorado, is a double major in social sciences with a global studies emphasis and the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy with an English minor. He is active in Student Government Association as the presiding senior senator. His other involvements include participation in Model U.N. and the Baptist Student Ministry. He also works as a residence hall assistant and with the HPU Office of Institutional Advancement.

According to the organization’s website, 21Wilberforce takes its name from 19th century British parliamentarian William Wilberforce, who led a successful abolitionist movement in England, using collaborative partnerships, grassroots empowerment and policy campaigns. By adopting these strategies, the organization is dedicated to defending people of faith internationally and the expanding religious freedom.

“The freedom of belief leads to a lot of other freedoms,” Kostreva said. “Countries that have more religious freedom have better economies, better gender equality and all these other positive things connected to religious freedom – not perfect, but better.”

Dr. Matthew McNiece, director of Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and associate professor of history and government, said Kostreva is an example of the ideals of the Honors Academy.

“Caleb’s desire to participate in an internship of this quality with an organization with this mission is a perfect demonstration of the alignment of the Academy’s motto: Facing the Future with Faith and Knowledge,” said Dr. McNiece. “We’re immensely proud of his work this summer, and eager to see where and how he applies this passion next.”

Kostreva, along with four other college students from institutions across the United States, worked with 21Wilberforce in the Washington, D.C. area meeting with legislators and planning events. Through the internship, he was able to experience firsthand some of the actions commonplace to the formation of United States policy on global issues such as human rights.

“It’s something that you won’t find interning for other organizations,” he said. “They see it as a professional-development internship, making it a really unique opportunity I really appreciated.”

A key contribution of Kostreva’s to 21Wilberforce’s work during the summer was a rally he planned highlighting the plight of prisoners of conscience, or political prisoners, in China.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) all spoke at the rally in support of such prisoners. The rally was held on the one-year anniversary of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo’s death. Xiaobo died in imprisonment following his 2008 arrest for helping to write and publish Charter 08, advocating for the shifting of China’s political system toward democracy.

“Religious freedom isn’t about advancing one specific faith, but it allows the common exchange of ideas,” Kostreva said. “In a society that allows people to have diverse beliefs, it means that people of all faiths have the ability to believe what they want, and it especially opens the door for Christians to spread the light.”

Applications are being accepted for the spring 2019 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: HPU senior Caleb Kostreva spent the summer working with human rights advocacy organization 21Wilberforce.

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