HRP Congratulates the Inaugural Recipients of the Fraser Human Rights Undergraduate Fellowships

Fraser fellows Ryan Atkinson and Anishaa Kamesh

The Human Rights Program congratulates Ryan Atkinson and Anishaa Kamesh, the inaugural recipients of the Fraser Human Rights Undergraduate Fellowships. Created this past spring, the fellowships are named after Donald and Arvonne Fraser—two groundbreaking leaders in human rights both locally and abroad. Through the fellowships we are investing in the next generation of human rights leaders by providing undergraduate students the opportunity to work in top human rights organizations.

Ryan Atkinson, an incoming senior studying political science and inaugural recipient of the Don Fraser Fellowship, is currently working with the International Justice Program at the Advocates for Human Rights, an organization that has been at the forefront of the world’s human rights movement for more than 30 years. Ryan is assisting the International Justice Program in accomplishing its goal to create systems change, strengthen accountability, raise awareness, foster tolerance, and help individuals more fully realize their inherent rights. Over the summer, Ryan is conducting research, developing educational and promotional materials, and assisting with planning trainings.

Ryan recently participated in the Department of Political Science’s Distinguished Undergraduate Research Internship Program (DURIP), where he was mentored by Professor James R. Hollyer. As a DURIP intern, he assisted Prof. Hollyer on two projects. The first project investigated the ability of political parties to act as effective vehicles for advancing broad-based policy platforms, while the second project looked at government transparency and portfolio investment flows.

Anishaa Kamesh, a genetics, cell biology and development major, is the inaugural recipient of the Arvonne Fraser Fellowship. Her placement is with the Prevention Education Program at ECPAT-USA, one of the leading policy organizations in the US seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children. The Prevention Education Program focuses on promoting education for people under 18 years old and training educators to identify and refer child trafficking victims. Anishaa is conducting a desk review of existing curricula, collecting evaluation information, and organizing and maintaining project materials.

As a student in the College of Biological Sciences, Anishaa has a strong commitment to human rights. She serves as a board member of Break the Silence, a local organization that supports survivors of sexual violence. As one of the leaders involved with the organization, Anishaa has organized and hosted Truth-Tellings and photo projects. Additionally, she is working with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board to build a permanent memorial in honor of all survivors of sexual violence.

We are thrilled that Ryan and Anishaa are the first recipients of these distinguished Fellowships named after Don and Arvonne Fraser. Don served in US Congress from 1962 to 1978, where he was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements. He initiated the first comprehensive study of US foreign policy and international human rights, authoring several laws requiring the US government to give greater attention to human rights related issues. During his years as mayor of Minneapolis from 1979 to 1993, Don continued to advocate for human rights. He is one of the founders of the Advocates for Human Rights and helped the organization gain international visibility through his long-reaching reputation.

Arvonne founded the Center on Women and Public Policy in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 1985. The center is the nation’s first complete teaching, research, and outreach center devoted to issues of gender and public policy. She also organized and co-directed the International Women’s Rights Action Watch, an NGO focused on implementing women’s rights worldwide. Arvonne served as a US representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women with the rank of Ambassador from 1993 to 1994, and was a member of the US delegations to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.

We are excited to extend the legacy of Don and Arvonne Fraser through these fellowship opportunities. As Ryan and Anishaa wrap up their internships later this summer, we will post more information about their experiences. Stay tuned!

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