With the theme of “Education for Transformation,” our 10-year anniversary celebration in May 2019 focused on the experiences and achievements of the many outstanding faculty, students, and alumni who have contributed to the development of the UW Center for Human Rights. After the celebration, we checked in with some recent graduates to learn what they’re doing now and ask what were the best—and most challenging—aspects of their work with the UWCHR.
What are you doing now?
Clare Morrison (MA Library and Information Science, 2019): “I’m working for a library system in north-central Washington. I’m doing bilingual outreach, which basically involves going around to head starts, preschools, and schools, doing storytimes in English and Spanish, and working with community organizations which mostly serve Spanish-speakers to figure out how the library can best serve them.”
Angie Tamayo (MA Psychology, 2018): “I’m working on two research projects for my doctorate with Latinx communities; one at the UW with the Department of Public Health; and the other with Seattle Children’s. Both focus on mindfulness with the community.”
Noah Schramm (BA International Studies, 2017): “I have been working at the Florence Project in Tucson, Arizona; we are a legal service provider for immigrants who are detained for their removal proceedings, so we go into the detention centers, represent people and we help them with their cases. Yesterday was my last day, I’m starting a Master’s in Public Policy and Migration at the London School of Economics starting this autumn.”
Danielle Lankhaar (BA Latin American & Caribbean Studies, 2017): “I start law school this fall at the University of Oregon. I’m planning on studying Environmental and Natural Resource Law and I’m interested in the potential crossover between human rights and environmental policies.”
What was the best thing about working with the Center?
Clare: “Coming into college I remember being really frustrated, taking all these classes where we would learn about these social issues but there was no applied section; so it was so great to find a place like the Center where you are actually doing that community-centered research and making an effort to use the resources of the University to actually make a difference in the world.”
Angie: “It was like reciprocal learning…I got the chance to present my work on mental health and psychosocial support and the team was part of those workshops because they wanted to learn what I was doing. It was like a community. We all were learning together.”
Noah: “I found the Center to be very principled, in terms of trying to factor its vision and mission into its work and really applying it on a case by case basis. It was really good to be a part of those larger discussions. It felt democratic.”
Danielle: “Specifically, I really enjoyed pulling together documents for the lawsuit against the DOD. I liked getting a hands-on experience in a field that interested me and having a community of people outside of my classes to connect with and learn from.”
What was most challenging about your work with the Center?
Noah: “One thing that was frustrating was the FOIA requests—I think this is just the nature of FOIA, but it felt like you were shouting down a well and hoping for a response. But having such a supportive team made it so that’s OK. You felt re-energized to do it over and over again.”
Clare: “One of my early projects when I was an undergraduate was translating testimonies from one of the massacres in El Salvador, and it was horrific to read those stories but it also felt important, and I felt grateful because it is a really important thing to be able to hear the stories from the survivors. It’s very powerful.”
Angie: “The research that I was doing was directly related with victims and survivors, so being far away from El Salvador made it harder, I wish we could have a CHR in El Salvador!”
Danielle: “Learning how to adjust from an academic setting where we were mainly memorizing material to an environment where we were independent researchers that needed to come up with original questions and strategies. But that was also probably the most rewarding part as well.”