Our mission is to provide urban experiential education from a Christian perspective that equips students for integrated personal, professional and public lives.

Our Vision

Chicago Semester envisions a just, generous and hospitable world where individuals are invested deeply in place and with each other as they serve joyfully and fearlessly on their vocational journey.

Our Values

We strive to reach this vision through our mission and by living the following values:


With a posture of curiosity and wonder we actively discover God’s continual work in the city. We marvel at the gifts we receive and gifts we contribute as we engage in life in the city.

Relationships & Partnerships

We believe in the importance of relational ways of learning and growing as urban professionals. Partnerships are life-giving and crucial for our work.

Imagination & experiential learning

We imagine possibilities for all to experience vocational flourishing through best practices in urban experiential education.

Community & Place

Anchored in community, we seek to be a dwelling place for one another as we share in the histories and realities of the city with our neighbors.

Courage & Hope

We pray for courage to challenge the injustices we see and perpetuate. We recognize, advocate for and work toward redemptive hope as we anticipate the coming of Christ.

Our History


Originally called the Chicago Metropolitan Center, Chicago Semester is founded by six Christian colleges: Calvin College (MI), Central College (IA) Dordt College (IA), Hope College (MI), Northwestern College (IA), and Trinity Christian College (IL).


The Social Work program is added to serve students from accredited BSW programs.


The Student Teaching program is added allowing students to meet all student teaching requirements through placement in the Chicago Public Schools.


The National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) names Chicago Semester the Experiential Education Program of the Year.


The Nursing program is added.


The Summer program is launched.


Chicago Semester celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Our Partner Schools

Our Staff

Erik Nussbaum, MM


Erik Nussbaum has taught the Arts & the City course since joining Chicago Semester in the fall of 2008.  His favorite part of teaching the class is discussing the many amazing art events they see together. He enjoys the different perspectives students bring to understanding their experience, and finds it fulfilling to witness the growth within each student as the semester progresses. Erik feels this embodies, in part, the mission of the entire program.

Born in Eureka, IL, Erik attended Knox College for his undergraduate degree and Westminster for his graduate work. He made the leap from small town to huge city when a job with the Chicago Children’s Choir led him to Chicago in 2000. Serving in several south and west side public elementary schools greatly expanded his understanding of life in the city.

When Erik isn’t teaching at Chicago Semester, you can often find him writing music for his church music ministry. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, whether making music together, playing Frisbee, watching movies or playing with their senior cat, Charlie.



Mackenzi Huyser, PhD

Executive Director

Mackenzi has served as Executive Director of Chicago Semester since July 2014. Passionate about the program’s mission to provide experiential learning opportunities, rooted in a Christian perspective, she is constantly inspired by student and alumni stories about how the program has shaped their ideas regarding urban life and work.

Originally from western Michigan, Mackenzi is now deeply committed to living in the city and continually explores questions about what it means for Christians to engage in urban life. She is excited to lead CS as it seeks possible answers through working with students. Prior to joining the CS staff, she served as Dean for Faculty Development and Academic Programs and Professor of Social Work at Trinity Christian College’s Palos Heights campus.

Mackenzi lives in the south side Hyde Park neighborhood with her family. She enjoys spending time outdoors, visiting museums and neighborhood restaurants throughout the city, and attending LaSalle Street Church where she and her family are members.



Michael Pineda

Coordinator of Student Life & Program Operations

Michael joined the Chicago Semester in mid-2021 after having graduated from Hope College with a BA in Business Administration and a minor in Jazz Studies. During his time there, he found a strong passion for serving students through leadership capacities across campus and connecting with others through music, justice, and community building.

As an international TCK student from Honduras and study abroad alumnus with IES Vienna, Michael recognizes the value of global citizenship and experiential learning. He is excited to empower students in their personal and professional development journeys and accompany them in understanding what it means to live and learn in the city of Chicago.

Michael is residing in the Ravenswood neighborhood which is conveniently located near the Brown Line, which takes him right to the Merchandise Mart. He spends a lot of time composing and playing music in the Midwest area, collaborating with creatives, and working on entrepreneurial and philanthropic projects both here and in Honduras.

(312) 922-3884


Michelle McClure, DNP, FNP-BC

Nursing Program Director

Michelle decided to move from patient care into education because she believes that nurses are called to a profession and that by answering that call nurses are obedient to God. A lifelong resident of Chicago, she began teaching at Chicago Semester in fall of 2005.

She earned her BS in Nursing from Chicago State University, her MS in Nursing from Saint Xavier University’s Family Nurse Practitioner program, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Loyola University New Orleans. She has extensive experience in maternal and child health, women’s primary care, primary care in the retail health setting and nursing education. Her special interests include perinatal loss, childbirth and lactation education.

Michelle currently lives on the north side of Chicago. When she is not teaching at Chicago Semester, she enjoys being actively involved in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She also loves taking in music in the city, going to movies and trying one of the many local restaurants with friends.



Rebecca Burwell, PhD

Director of Academic Programs and Student Life

Rebecca loves Chicago Semester because of its potential to impact students as they transition from college to the real world. She also loves engaging students in learning about, and working with, urban communities.

Born and raised in New York and Pennsylvania, Rebecca lived on both the East and West coasts before finding a happy medium in Chicago. Prior to joining Chicago Semester in the spring of 2007, Rebecca worked extensively in the social justice realm, writing her dissertation in Cuba on the negotiation of motherhood, wage-earning and civic engagement in the Cuban context. She also spent several years studying the impact of Latino churches on Chicago communities through the Center for the Study of Latino Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

She earned her MA and PhD in sociology at Loyola University Chicago, and continues to research and write about issues related to race, inequality and social justice. Rebecca currently lives on Chicago’s northwest side and counts herself extraordinarily blessed with a close family, great group of friends and faith community she loves.



Rocio Mendez-Rozo

Director of Enrollment Management, Partnerships & Diversity Initiatives

Rocio serves as the Director of Enrollment Management, Partnerships, & Diversity Initiatives at Chicago Semester since July 2022. With a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Policy from Northwestern University, her passions lie in fostering equity and accessibility in higher education for underserved students such as first-generation, lower income, and undocumented/DACA students. Before entering her role at Chicago Semester, she worked in the medical mission non-profit sector and spent several years in the SEO content marketing space as a lead copywriter where she had opportunities to write for Chance the Rapper’s Social Works non-profit.
Born and raised in Chicago by immigrant parents, Rocio has dedicated a significant part of her professional career to engaging with issues surrounding social justice. As such, she has served as a child advocate for The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights in Chicago. She also serves on the leadership team for Camp Sunshine, a summer camp for individuals with cognitive/developmental disabilities to experience a safe, caring, and inclusive environment.
Rocio lives in the Edgewater/Andersonville neighborhood with her loving partner Skyler and exuberant dogs Arequipe and Melo. She enjoys walks with her family, trying new recipes in the kitchen, and spending time with her nearby family and friends.


Questions? We’d love to hear from you.

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