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Welcome to Our Two New Staff Members!

Maria Larson and Rosa Joyce join the HRP team
September 1, 2020

The Human Rights Program is happy to welcome our new staff members Maria Larson and Rosa Joyce! Read and learn a little bit about them in the interview and write up below. 

Rosa Joyce

Rosa is a sophomore majoring in global studies with concentrations in human rights and Latin America. In addition to being a communication assistant with the Human Rights Program, she is involved with the Human Rights Student Association as a board member. 

Human Rights Program (HRP): What sparked your interest in Human Rights work? 

Rosa Joyce (RJ): I am privileged that I was able to attend a public bilingual Spanish-English school for K-12 that had a strong social justice focus. My experiences through this program instilled in me a strong sense of cultural humility. Through my early schooling I became aware that as many ways as there are to violate human rights, there are to defend them, whether that be through grassroots activism or advocacy efforts, as a policy maker, a diplomat, a lawyer, an educator or through working for an NGO. There are so many concrete examples of human rights work and yet, I imagine that my eventual career may be interdisciplinary. I went through a gradual process of exposure to the field that by the time I considered what I wanted to study, having a major related to human rights seemed like a natural fit. 

My interest in human rights has only been strengthened further through my role as a board member for the University of Minnesota Human Rights Student Association and through having the privilege to be an intern this summer with the Observatory of Disappearances and Impunity in Mexico. 

HRP: How do you plan on working within the realm of Human Rights in the future?

RJ: In the future I hope to work in the government or policy making position, ideally relating to Latin America. This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Observatory of Disappearances and Impunity in Mexico and this experience really exposed me to the importance of research in the field of human rights. 

HRP: How does this job tie to your academic coursework?

RJ: I am taking multiple human rights related courses through pursuing my global studies major. Last semester I took Global Islamophobia (GLOS 3407) taught by Professor Hassan Abdel Salam and that class really centered on examining the dissemination of islamaphobic rhetoric, policies and acts and how to combat them. This course reminded me of the power and influence that platforms in educational institutions and news outlets have in amplifying a human rights focused message. In this position, I am committed to using my communications skills in this position to amplify the amazing human rights work being done by those in the program and in the community. 

HRP: What are you looking to gain during your time working for the Human Rights Program? 

RJ: I hope to continually improve my communications skills to best serve the program. I look forward to informing others about the fantastic events hosted by the Human Rights Program and the many ways students and faculty can be involved in human rights work on campus and beyond. 

Maria Larson

Hi! My name is Maria and I am a fourth year student in the College of Liberal Arts here at the U studying Spanish and Global Studies with a focus on Europe, political economies, and the environment.

I first became interested in human rights work after volunteering with the Red Cross while studying abroad in Spain during the spring semester of 2019. In this position and through the classes I took while abroad, I learned about patterns of migration as they operate in the European context and the ways in which the rights of those who migrate to Europe are violated. 

Upon returning to the United States, I began to learn more about migration, human rights issues, and politics in South America through my consumption of news covering this region. This personal exploration, along with classes that I have taken in both the Spanish and Global Studies departments, has led me to develop a passion for examining these issues and for using my opportunities to collaborate with others in the combattance of  the violation of human rights. 

I have had the opportunity to put my language skills, academic interests, and personal drive to draw attention to and combat human rights violations through work with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and with the Observatory of Disappearances and Impunity in Mexico.

As I wrap up my undergrad, I am looking forward to further researching disappearances and impunity in Mexico for my senior thesis. I hope to use these experiences and knowledge to pursue a career in which I can either advocate for the rights of people that have immigrated to the United States or one in which I can develop and advocate for policies that create a more just immigration system that supports rather than ostracizes individuals.

I am very excited to get to know more personally the Human Rights Program and am very grateful to have the opportunity to be a communications intern during the upcoming school year. I am hoping that this position allows me to explore communication outside of the academic context and to connect with others interested in human rights- even if that connection is socially distanced.