AUSTIN, Texas — The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice enters its second year with an ambitious agenda: an ongoing speaker series, a human rights conference planned for November, new educational outreach initiatives, and potential expansion of its clinical and internship opportunities.
Making plans is one thing, but implementing them is another. Fortunately, five students designated as "Human Rights Scholars" are already working to advance the Center's goals. Allen Cooper, Parisa Fatehi, Jeremy Freeman, Elizabeth Hardy, and Gregory Krauss were selected in August by a committee of international law faculty on the basis of academic credentials, leadership skills, and dedication to human rights careers. They will receive scholarships in recognition of their achievements and in exchange for their service to the Center.
"The Human Rights Scholars were chosen from a very impressive and qualified pool of students, and they bring together a terrific array of backgrounds and experiences in human rights as well as in leadership and organization," said Professor Karen Engle, Director of the Rapoport Center."They will play a key role this year in the maintenance and expansion of the Center."
Engle said the Scholars serve as the Center's "ambassadors" and provide a critical connection to students. "They guarantee a way for us to stay in touch with the student body and ensure that student needs are met through various Center programs." Engle added that the Scholars have already "jumped onto the scene quite impressively."
Last year, the Center selected three Human Rights Scholars: Paola Marusich-Blancarte, Ashley Morris, and the returning Freeman. These scholars were funded by grants from UT Law. The Center was able to select five Scholars this year due to additional funding from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation. Three of the Scholars are 2Ls while Freeman and Cooper are both 3Ls.
Allen Cooper received his B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Swarthmore College in 1991 and an M.P.P. from Princeton University in 2003. Before coming to law school he worked for ten years as a community organizer. In 2004, he worked with the Chilean World Wildlife Fund on an indigenous land rights project. Last summer he worked for the International Labor Rights Fund to promote labor rights at flower plantations in Ecuador. As a Human Rights Scholar he will assist in the development of the Center's ongoing work on indigenous rights in Latin America and in developing the Center's visiting scholars program. Cooper said he would like to see the Center create more opportunities for students to become involved in human rights advocacy on the local, national, and international levels.
Parisa Fatehi received her B.A. in Plan II Honors with a concentration in Government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. In addition to studying law, she is pursuing a Master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) School of Public Affairs. Parisa brings to the Center both a background in human rights and in service to the University of Texas, where she served as president of the student body in 2000-2001. Parisa's human rights interests are focused on economic security as a human right. An Iranian-born American citizen, Parisa is particularly interested in immigrant rights and access to social services. This past summer, she worked to protect low-wage and immigrant worker rights at the National Employment Law Project in New York City. As a Human Rights Scholar, Parisa will assist with fundraising and with faculty outreach. She will also help coordinate the Center's November conference.
Jeremy Freeman received his A.B. in Hispanic Studies from Brown University in 2001.He holds a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University and has interned at the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. He is a former research assistant at the Kennedy School of Government's human rights center, where his research focused chiefly on U.S. foreign policy responses to genocide in the twentieth century. Last year as a Human Rights Scholar Jeremy assisted with fundraising and with planning a February 2005 conference on immigration and outsourcing. This year he will assist with fundraising and faculty outreach, though he will primarily focus on long-term strategic planning for the Center. "Right now there are so many ways we can make an impact. The challenge is to think about what we want to work on and what we want to tackle first," he said.
Elizabeth Hardy received her B.A. in History from Yale University in 2002. As an undergraduate, Elizabeth studied abroad in Kenya where she analyzed the effects of Kenya's environmental policy on Maasai tribe culture. Following her undergraduate degree, Hardy received a Fulbright to serve in South Korea as an English teacher. She recently completed a summer internship at the Texas Defender Service where she prepared habeas appeals for indigent death row inmates. As a Human Rights Scholar, Elizabeth will promote human rights education, in part through working with other departments and institutes on campus as well as an Austin non-profit to design a program use theatre to teach middle and high school students about human rights. This initiative is a continuation of the "Living Newspaper" performance that the Center included in its inaugural conference last February. Elizabeth will also coordinate student outreach and work with the Career Services Office to expand knowledge of student internship opportunities.
Gregory Krauss received his A.B. in History and Literature from Harvard University in 2000. He is pursuing a Master's degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in addition to a J.D. Before coming to law school, Gregory taught English and standardized test preparation in Spain for nearly two years, then served one year as an Americorps VISTA volunteer at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Edinburg, TX. In the summer of 2004, he interned in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, where he worked on a USAID project aimed at increasing public participation in the legislative process. He interned for the Rapoport Center during the summer of 2005, where he assisted in publicity and grant-writing. As a Human Rights Scholar, Gregory will coordinate fundraising efforts, draft press releases, and work with the University of Texas libraries to facilitate greater access to human rights collections.