PCAP Associates Highlight Series

This Fall we will feature past members and share stories about their experiences with PCAP, where they are now, and how our project has influenced your lives.
by Sophie Gibson

Elie Zweibel

Spring of 2009 graduate, Elie Zweibel, has come a long way since his time with PCAP. Having been a part of the organization for 3 years of his undergraduate experience, it has made a profound impact on his career aspirations. 

In the 4 years following graduation, Zweibel bounced around teaching. He taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in an area in China and in Portland, Oregon. He also instructed high schoolers on how to use media as a form of social empowerment, in Chicago, Illinois.  It was through teaching that Zwiebel felt the need to support kids discriminated against in the classrooms. “Through my teaching experience, I realized the way I wanted to help my students was beyond the classroom. I thought the best way to support students was to get a Juris Doctor Degree (JD),” Zweibel said.
Currently, Zweiebel works in his own firm with students and families to make sure they’re not being improperly pushed out of classrooms and ensure they are not being disadvantaged. He works to file complaints and advocate for students in his own law firm. 
While in PCAP 

During his time at PCAP, Zweiebel was a workshop facilitator, mostly doing creative writing workshops. After learning about this opportunity during his fall 2006 English class with founder Buzz Alexander, he decided to join immediately. Regarding his time with PCAP, Zweibel said, “the memories that stand out most for me were the readings at the end of the semesters. 
Seeing the people in the workshops have the opportunity to share their writing and seeing what these writings meant to these adult men and adolescent women I worked with was empowering. It was very confidence boosting and allowed a sense of achievement that I enjoyed being a part of.” 

PCAP Impact 

“PCAP was integral in shaping how I think about social justice, racial justice, and economic justice, especially in terms of working with and critically engaging the question of ‘what does it mean to be incarcerated?’ and the life circumstances that cause this,” said Zweiebel. “PCAP forced me to do so much examination.” 

Because of PCAP, Zweibel now considers himself an abolitionist and firmly believes in the importance of ending the prison system and the abolishment of the corrupt police system and says he most likely would not have this ideology today if not for PCAP.

"After seeing firsthand the problems within the system, I was trained to do regular reflection and introspection which is indescensible to my current work and I am extremely thankful for my time spent with the program," Zweiebel said. 

Release Date: 10/09/2020
Tags: Prison Creative Arts Project