An Investment in Promise

Portrait of Ryan Atkinson

“I think what I’ve gained is partially a result of trying to take advantage of every opportunity that was made available to me.” Through the Fraser Fellowship, Ryan has learned skills and lessons that will help prepare him for a career right out of college.

The Fraser Fellowship

In spring 2018, Ryan Atkinson was one of two recipients of the first ever Fraser Human Rights Undergraduate Fellowships, which connect undergraduate students to opportunities in top human rights organizations across the country. The fellowships, created by the Human Rights Program, are named after Donald and Arvonne Fraser, groundbreaking leaders in the defense of international human rights and women’s rights. 

For Ryan, this fellowship provided him financial support to take on an internship with The Advocates for Human Rights, an organization that works to implement international human rights standards, promote civil society, and reinforce the rule of law through advocacy work. “I wouldn’t have been able to manage [to participate in the internship] otherwise, and the fellowship and the internship have broadened my understanding of non-governmental organizations (NGO) operations, and human rights.”

Endless Experience

During his internship this past summer with The Advocates for Human Rights, Ryan worked specifically for the International Justice Program (part of The Advocates for Human Rights) conducting research, developing educational and promotional materials, and assisting with planning trainings. 

The main project he worked on was developing a directory for the organization to use to network with other like-minded NGOs, which helps the organization grow and develop more effective advocacy strategies.  

“My hope is that my research will help reduce the time others have to spend learning about how to conduct NGO research. The less time people have to spend learning about how to find NGOs, the more time they have to assist clients or accomplish their goals.”
But this experience was more than just an opportunity to gain experience and learn about non-governmental organizations. For Ryan, this internship helped him realize just how important his work is. “The internship further entrenched my belief in the importance of human rights as a fundamental bulwark for the most economically and socially vulnerable people on our planet.”

Aside from his work with the International Justice Program, Ryan also worked for Professor James R. Hollyer through the Distinguished Undergraduate Research Internship Program (DURIP). Ryan helped collect research for two separate projects, one requiring him to research the history of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in the 1980s, and the other project involved researching indices related to capital account liberalization, capital flows, measures of openness, and other interrelated metrics.

The Importance of Opportunity

“I had several experiences that left an indelible impression on me and put the troubles that we’re currently experiencing as a society into perspective.” Ryan believes that the experience he’s had throughout this opportunity has helped him apply what he’s learned to real-life experiences, which will help him in his career moving forward.

Through resources like the PoliSci Pulse, the department’s undergraduate newsletter, he was introduced to programs like DURIP and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) that helped him grow both as a student and as an advocate.

“It’s important for students to take advantage of what’s in front of them,” says Ryan. Whether it’s through the work he’s accomplished with Hollyer or the research he’s done for The Advocates for Human Rights, Ryan believes he’s gained skills that will greatly help him in his career moving forward.

“All of these experiences have challenged me to confront my own beliefs, develop the necessary skills that employers desire, and strengthen my ability to reason and think critically.” 

This story was written by an undergraduate student content creator in CLAgency. Meet the team.

Undergraduate Students
Social Sciences
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