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Joshua Cooper Wilson

Joshua Cooper Wilson is working on health justice in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Work

“Right now, I´m working as a contract medical interpreter helping Spanish-speaking individuals gain access to important services like health care.  Before that, I served with HealthCorps, a branch of AmeriCorps, as a medical interpreter, patient navigator, and data analyst at a Federally Qualified Health Center.  In my role as a patient navigator, I assisted patients in gaining access to and navigating the health system by doing things like filling out applications, health education, and connecting patients with other resources. As a data analyst, I helped develop a system using Excel to analyze patient databases to identify patients in need of preventative and other medical services. I also worked on designing trainings for other team members on professional development and social justice issues.  My previous work centered around education access for non-dominant groups, especially regarding higher education.”

Inspirations and Influences

There have been so many people who have inspired me that it’s hard to make a concise list. Especially early in my journey, I was inspired by the works and activism of Arundhati Roy, Grace Lee Boggs, and education theorist Paulo Freire.  However, my most impactful inspiration was from the mentorship and collaboration with the wonderful staff at Kalamazoo College Institute for Service Learning who taught me the difference between simply “helping others” and creating lasting social change.


Personal Quote: “To make a revolution, people must not only struggle against existing institutions. They must make a philosophical/spiritual leap and become more human human beings. In order to change/transform the world, they must change/transform themselves.” – Grace Lee Boggs from Living for Change: An Autobiography

Field of Work: Health and Language Access


Recently, in addition to the fulfillment I get from direct activism and service, l’m discovering a passion for working upstream, building capacity and empowering the work and activism of others.

Some things I’m always trying to remind myself:
Taking care of yourself does not mean you don’t care about others.
Life is short when you measure it and long when you live it!