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Current DHR Fellowship Participants

Cole Appoloni

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) ‘23

Hometown: Three Rivers, Michigan

Affiliations: Young Democratic Socialists of America

“I joined the Donia Human Rights fellow program because I wanted to join a community of students who were also passionate about human rights issues. Many of the candidates have unique experiences relating to human rights and I wanted to learn from them. I also found it very exciting that I could further specialize my studies into the specific field that I am interested in and be recognized for this commitment to learning about human rights.

One course from the designated list of courses that I particularly enjoyed was International Studies 401 with Professor Fariss. This course was on the Politics of Human Rights and I was able to learn about the ways that human rights violations are measured and studied. One memorable reading from this class was Bill Buford’s “Among the Thugs” which detailed how mob violence manifested and proliferated in England’s football fan clubs.

Although I am undecided about any careers in human rights, I am planning on attending law school in the future after a gap year or two. One area of law that interests me is union-side labor law as I am interested in labor issues and economic rights.”

Mekulash Baron-Galbavi

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation)’ 23

Hometown: Monroe, MI

Affiliations: Model UN at the University of Michigan (MUNUM)

“I decided to join the Donia Human Rights Fellowship Program because it felt like a natural extension of everything that I had studied thus far. I had already taken many of the classes from the class list purely out of interest and their connection with my major when I decided to join the fellow program. One of my earliest classes that I took at the university was Human Rights in the UN with Dr. Tsutsui. This class immediately opened me up to the study and application of human rights in the real world. He brought in many guest speakers who work on human rights, and they became inspirations for me.

I am not exactly sure what I want to do in the future, but I know that my studies of human rights will play a large role. Since Covid, I have begun to look at domestic issues and how international human rights can strengthen activism and advocacy in that arena. I am currently writing a thesis in international studies on the connections between activism around water shutoffs in Detroit and how international human rights can strengthen that cause. I hope to continue this kind of work in the future.”

Ruhena Begum

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) & Sociology (Law, Justice, and Social Change); Minor in Asian Languages and Culture ‘23

Hometown: Warren, MI

Affiliations Muslim Students' Association(MSA); Bangladeshi Students Association(BSA); Comprehensive Scholars Program (CSP)

“ I knew I had an interest in learning and focusing more on human rights issues, and when I was debating how to go about talking and networking with people, I came across the Donia Human Rights Fellowship. This program abled me to meet and interact with various people who are directly working in the field of human rights, and allowed me to learn and build on what they've learned since they were working to help me navigate how I want to pursue a career in international human rights.

A course I took was INTLDSTD401 Accountability and Justice with Dr. Anthony Marcum, and I really enjoyed that course because there were many aspects of accountability I had not thought about before, or even if I did think about it, I didn't know how it could properly be implemented. In this course, we drew on various historical and present cases of human rights violations, how we can hold those who abused human rights accountable, and the numerous things one needs to keep in mind to find the best accountability measure for a certain group of people. I learned a lot from this class, and was able to make it a valuable class I took at UM!

As of right now I am still open to any field in the human rights. I think it would be really personal and motivating if I could directly go onto the field of where human rights violations took place and talk to the people about their experience and how they are coping, and what they want done moving forward, but since I do know that will be very mentally challenging, I am looking into other alternative options. I am potentially planning on going to law school, so maybe with that I can help defend immigrant or undocumented families in the US, or those who are trying to seek a better life in the US; or even using that law degree to help advance international human rights law to protect and give justice to those who need it. Another option I have been exploring recently is going to Bangladesh, or staying in the US if possible, and advocating for Bangladeshi human rights that are being slowly violated due to the effects of environmental changes (global warming) rooting from the actions of powerful nations and corporations.”

Ian Bell

BA International Studies (Comparative Culture and Identity) & Biology, Health, and Society (BHS)’ 23

Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas

Affiliations: Office of Student Conflict Resolution, Phi Chi Pre-Medical Fraternity, and UNICEF-UofM

“I am currently pursuing medicine/public health either alongside or as an alternative to international affairs, and over the course of my study about these topics, I have been able to further expand upon my interest in human rights: an overarching theme of both fields. Furthermore, I consider my choice in International Studies subplan a reflection of how I have focused my academic journey toward illustrating the various ways in which culture and identity contribute to current affairs.

When I took HONORS 230 my freshman year, I did not know what to expect! Throughout the course, I explored my own interests while also applying new knowledge—in economics, politics, and history—to study the international effects of oil. This course, like other Donia courses I have taken thus far, provided the opportunity to build on theoretical concepts, critically examine global issues, and work on relevant case studies.

Although my future plans are not entirely defined yet, regardless of which field I choose, I hope to engage with others and facilitate positive change in the world. I chose to pursue this program to demonstrate this globally-conscious perspective towards my future, taking on a more advocacy-focused role in my education.”

Sarah Bellovich

BA International Studies (Comparative Culture and Identity)’ 23

Hometown: Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Affiliations: Phi Delta Phi Pre Law Fraternity, Residential College

“I joined the DHR fellow program because I desired to pursue the topic of Human Rights in my professional career, and this was the perfect way to engage with the climate of international human rights in the current world. The classes have been incredible. I am currently in PHIL 355 which focuses on the concept of race and how it has been leveraged to commit human rights violations. It has provided the space to consider how to avoid human rights violations in the future or possible avenues to healing or support which could be offered to communities which have been impacted by violence. An overarching theme I have noticed between classes is examining past cases and reflecting on where mistakes were made in order to note possible solutions. I am planning to pursue a Masters in Human Rights or Public Policy. And in the future, I hope to work with immigration policy or mental health policy in the international field.”

Habeeb El-amir

BA International Studies (Comparative Culture and Identity) & Political Science ‘23

Hometown: Grand Haven, Michigan

“I joined the Donia Human rights fellow program to both advance my understanding of human rights and to join a community with a shared passion for the topic. I am excited to learn from the events sponsored by the Donia Human Rights Center and from the knowledge of other fellows, all while growing my appreciation for the work done in the field of human rights.

During my sophomore year, I took "INTLSTD 401 (004): Sexual Violence and War" with Professor Ragnhild Nordås. This course introduced conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and considered the causes and consequences of CRSV. My favorite part of the course was the assignment to conduct an individual research project on sexual violence. Students could research sexual violence in a specific conflict or how CRSV relates to other dimensions and topics, like religion. During our in-class symposium at the end of the semester, l was able to share my research and learn from the findings of my classmates' projects.

I hope to attend graduate school or work in the government on human rights issues following graduation!”

Emmanuel Orozco Castellanos

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); minor, Translation, & Latin American Studies ‘23

Hometown: Capilla de Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico

Affiliations: Michigan Journal of International Affairs, Global Scholars Program, Comprehensive Studies Program

“I joined the Donia Human Rights Program because I wanted to consolidate my interest in the field and explore professional opportunities.  The program offers opportunities for students to engage with human rights in the real world. For example, I used the knowledge I gained in International Studies 301: History and Practice of Human Rights to pursue an internship at Perseus Strategies. Most of the concepts I learned in class—theoretical and practical—turned out to be incredibly relevant during this impactful internship experience. I hope to use this foundational knowledge to pursue a career at the UN or in international NGOs.”

Isabella Preissle

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) & Political Science ‘23

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Affiliations: Delta Gamma Phi (Pre-law Sorority), MRun sprinters

"I’ve always been interested in Human Rights and the international attempt to create a set of rules regardless of regional conflict, refugee crises, or domestic politics. I joined the Donia Human Rights fellows program to find a group of like-minded students and ensure that my Michigan education had a clear Human Rights focus. I actually took a course titled “Human Rights” this past winter, and we talked about what human rights looks like from a data perspective, which is something I had never thought about before. I’ve always attended talks hosted by the DHRC and it has been incredible to come to each event with background knowledge from courses and seminars.

Again, the human rights field is so broad, so it has been really difficult to decide which way I want my career to go in order to continue the work that I've been doing with the fellows program. I am hoping to work in a domestic nonprofit for a couple of years working to improve the domestic human rights situation before attending law school. My passion is with international human rights, but I would love to be an advocate for domestic issues as well."

Edha Shirodkar

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) & Economics ‘23

Hometown: Farmington Hills

Affiliations: Detroit Education Society (DES), The Archive, The Michigan Gayly: LGBTQ+ Issues, Society of Women in Economics (SWIE), Michigan Journal of Asian Studies

“I wanted to join the Donia Human Rights Fellow program because I thought it would be a good way to demonstrate my interest in learning about human rights practices both in history and today. I especially liked how it combines in-class and out-of-class opportunities for learning about human rights, through classes and the speaker events. One Donia Center event I attended recently was "Defending Artistic Freedom After the Attack on Salman Rushdie." This was an interesting event to attend, and I learned a lot about efforts to promote and maintain artistic freedom around the world in fraught political environments where freedom of expression is limited, and how this is also relevant to the US today. I hope to pursue a career related to human rights policy, such as in research or another related field.”

Anna Tuohey

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) ‘23

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Affiliations: Michigan Foreign Policy Council, Michigan Journal of International Affairs

“I joined the Donia Human Rights fellow program in order to further distinguish my commitment to studying human rights both in the classroom and with my extracurricular involvement. Over the course of my four years, I have taken a wide variety of excellent classes that have taught me everything from the legal mechanisms for enforcing international human rights, to specific case studies of human rights abuses and their impact. In particular, the course entitled State Repression of Human Rights, presented a thorough examination of how and why governments repress their citizens, and alternately the methods in which citizens fight for justice and freedom. After graduating as a Donia Human Rights Fellow I plan to use the lessons I have learned to build a career in working to promote international human rights, specifically focusing on women's rights. I feel so grateful to all of the professors and my fellow Donia candidates for shaping my undergraduate experience and preparing me for my future career.”

Charlotte Dubin

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) & Political Science ‘24

Hometown: Potomac, Maryland

Affiliations: Michigan Refugee Assistance Program (Education & Advocacy co-chair), Michigan Foreign Policy Council (editor), Michigan Journal of International Affairs (staff writer), The Michigan Daily (copy editor), J Street U

“I joined the Donia Human Rights fellow program because the reason that I chose my majors in the first place was because I wanted to focus on human rights and ultimately pursue a career related to human rights. It can be difficult to tailor your studies in college, especially at such a large school, and this was a perfect opportunity to do that. The fellowship program also provides really great resources to flesh out your interests and learn about human rights careers, and the administrators are really accessible and helpful. Last year, I took a course called Sexual Violence and the State from the DHR list, which was really illuminating because I got to study a specific side of state violence and conflict studies that is rarely brought to the forefront. That class was particularly interesting to me because one of my main interests is how institutions like the state and things like national security can intersect with and carry out human rights violations.”

Madeline Grobelny

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); Political Science; & Spanish ‘24

Hometown: Twinsburg, Ohio

Affiliations: Michigan Foreign Policy Council, Empowering Women in Law Club, Treasurer of The Quito Project

“I joined the Donia Human Rights fellows program because I wanted to be surrounded with students who have similar career interests as me, as well as educational leaders who would provide countless opportunities for me to advance my knowledge on human rights. I am excited to pursue all avenues that the Donia Human Rights Center provides for its fellows!

In the fall semester of my sophomore year, I completed INTLSTD301: The History and Practice of Human Rights. I really enjoyed this class as it gave a great foundation regarding the history of human rights as well as opportunities for learning about contemporary human rights abuses across the globe and how world leaders are choosing to address them. Most notably, I greatly enjoyed writing a policy proposal on addressing human rights atrocities in the minerals trade business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

After graduation, I hope to attend law school. I want to pursue a career in foreign policy, focusing on international human rights law and international security. I hope to work as a legal advisor for an intelligence agency.”

Nina Naffziger

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); minor, Middle East Studies ‘24

Hometown: Moraga, CA

Affiliations: President's Advisory Committee for Labor Standards and Human Rights, Sigma Iota Rho, Phi Delta Phi Pre-Law Society,  U-M History Club, U-M Tour Guide

“I joined the Donia Human Rights fellows program because during my time at UM, I have become truly passionate about human rights work as a future path. The program allows me to interact with and learn from my peers who have shared human rights interests and are experts in the field. My favorite course in human rights so far has been International Studies 401 with Dr. Marcum. The course focused on accountability through transitional justice following human rights violations in a variety of ways. It highlighted for me the diversity of the human rights field and allowed me to envision a future as a human rights practitioner with some seriousness for the first time.

In my future, I intend to pursue a career in academia or law, hopefully in the human rights space. I would love to work for an international body that focuses on human rights or a think tank conducting research in the field. I am also potentially interested in practicing international human rights law as an attorney.”