Embrey Human Rights Program

Retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown dubs SMU’s class of 2016 ‘the next Greatest Generation’ at December Commencement


Retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown told SMU’s more than 530 December graduates that “[y]ou all may be the next greatest generation of heroes in this country.” The University celebrated its 2016 December Commencement Convocation on Saturday, Dec. 17.

SMU President R. Gerald Turner praised keynote speaker Brown for helping reduce both crime in Dallas and the DPD’s use of deadly force. Turner also commended him for his actions following the July 7 attack “when Chief Brown’s strength and leadership were tested on one of the darkest days in the history of Dallas.” That day, a lone gunman ambushed DPD and DART officers who had been protecting participants in a peaceful late-afternoon protest march downtown. Five officers were killed and 12 were wounded during the assault.

“Chief Brown took charge that night with the professionalism and calm demeanor of a true leader,” President Turner said, noting that the 33-year DPD veteran “helped maintain equilibrium in a wounded city.”

Brown’s address focused on his long-held fascination with heroes, especially Superman. Watching re-runs of “The Adventures of Superman” was a regular after-school pastime for the third-generation Dallasite. As a young man, Brown said, “I wanted so much to join modern-day heroes of our society that I rushed to sign up for the Dallas Police Department” in 1983.

Brown then told the graduates, “You all may be the next greatest generation of heroes in this country. You all are global citizens much more than my generation.”

His closing statement rallied the crowd even further.

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! It’s a plane, it’s a train – no, it’s the 2016 graduating class of Southern Methodist University: My heroes. Now, go save the world!”

Also speaking at Commencement was SMU Engaged Learning Fellow José Manuel Santoyo, who earned bachelor of arts degrees in human rights and Spanish. The Mexican national and American citizen-hopeful, raised in Corsicana, spent much of his life as an undocumented immigrant before qualifying in 2012 to study and work legally in the U.S. thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program initiated by the Department of Homeland Security.

> Watch José Santoyo’s Commencement speech at FOX 4 News

Santoyo thanked SMU’s “amazing faculty and staff,” including Embrey Human Rights Program Associate Director Bradley Klein, his Engaged Learning mentor. As part of his project, Santoyo voluntarily tested his DACA status via a study-abroad trip – risking not being able to return to his education and family in the U.S. – in order to document the experience and give courage to others wanting to follow in his footsteps.

Santoyo also recognized the Consul General of Mexico who was in attendance.

“This country continues to be built by immigrants,” Santoyo said, adding, “an educated populace benefits us all.”

> Full coverage of 2016 December Commencement from SMU News

2016-12-20T13:59:56+00:00 December 20, 2016|News|

Georges Bwelle, Carol Brady Houston to receive 2016 Triumph of the Spirit Awards Wednesday, Nov. 16

Georges Bwelle

Georges Bwelle

African physician Georges Bwelle and special-needs children’s advocate Carol Brady Houston will receive SMU’s 2016 Triumph of the Spirit Awards during an evening of entertainment and celebration Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff.

Sponsored by the University’s Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP), the bi-annual awards reward both an international and local humanitarian with a total of $30,000. The awards and related festivities are supported by an anonymous donor.

The “VOICES”-themed event will feature music by former Sudanese child soldier and current hip-hop peace activist Emmanuel Jal; the country-folk music of Austin-based BettySoo; spoken-word and live-action performances by Journeyman Ink; and mixed-media works created by SMU students and local professionals.

Carol Brady Houston

Carol Brady Houston

“These awards – which put a human face on the struggle for human rights – are unique to SMU and are rarely offered by higher-education institutions. We’re fortunate we’re able to help extraordinary individuals empower marginalized people in innovative ways,” says EHRP Director Rick Halperin. “The event is also designed to revitalize the spirit of the entire Dallas community as we work to build a kinder and more humanitarian city.”

Event tickets, which support human rights programming, start at $50 (via prekindle.com/triumph) and include a pre-event reception, the awards celebration, catered hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and valet parking. While they last, you may also order balcony tickets for $5 each with the promo code Balcony.

For information related to discounts for students and others, contact Sherry Aikman, 214-768-8347.

> Read more from SMU News

2016-11-10T15:56:16+00:00 November 10, 2016|Calendar Highlights, News|

Calendar Highlights: Mustang Must-do’s for April 22, 2016

Korean ‘Comfort Women’ Presentation: In a rare U.S. appearance, two surviving Kang Il-chul, a former Korean sex slavevictims of Japanese military sexual slavery will be at SMU on Friday, April 22, for the Embrey Human Rights Program’s “Evening With Kang Il-Chul and Lee Ok-Seon,” held in partnership with Seoul, South Korea’s House of Sharing, an assisted living home where Il-Chul and Ok-Seon and five others find support. The free public event will begin with a 6:30 p.m. reception featuring Korean food and dance tributes, followed by a 7:15 p.m. discussion in McCord Auditorium, Room 306 of Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd.

Cézanne Quartet: Join the Cézanne Quartet, Meadows’ Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence, on Saturday, April 23 as they perform the two quartets by Janacek and Beethoven’s “Rasumovsky” Quartet, op. 59, no. 2. Since winning Second Place Ensemble in the Senior Division of the Coltman Chamber Music Competition, the musicians have collaborated with cellist Andrés Díaz and violist Matt Albert of SMU, performed with the Bridge the Gap Chamber Players and Open Classical Artist Series and participated in the McGill International String Quartet Academy. The free public event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium.

Heavenly Images: “When I consider your heavens….” The words of Psalm 8 serve as the basis for the final choral concert of the season on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. From Tarik O’Regan’s The Ecstasies Above, a setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s Israfel, to Franz Joseph Haydn’s celebratory chorus The Heavens Are Telling, you will spend the evening gazing at a myriad of heavenly images. The Meadows choirs are honored to be joined in this performance by the young artists of Flower Mound High School. The concert is free and open to the public and will be held in Caruth Auditorium.

Tables of Content invitationFriends of the Library: The Friends of the SMU Libraries will host the 16th annual Tables of Content fundraiser at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 30, in the newly renovated Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room in Fondren Library, 6414 Robert S. Hyer Lane.

The event will include the presentation of the 7th annual Literati Award to Darwin Payne ’68, SMU centennial historian and professor emeritus of communications. The event also will feature a reception honoring the “Top 10 Haute Young Authors” as well as 19 table hosts who will lead discussions on a variety of topics with guests at the dinner.

Tickets to Tables of Content are $150. Sponsorship packages with special benefits and seating for the event are available from $1,000 to $10,000. For additional information, call (214) 768-3225 or visit smu.edu/friends.

 

2016-05-02T12:50:42+00:00 April 22, 2016|Calendar Highlights|

Embrey Human Rights Program selects five SMU students as Community Outreach Fellows

For the second cohort of Community Outreach Fellows (COF), the most prestigious honor the Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP) offers, only five students were selected. This year-long program offers students the opportunity to serve the Dallas community and develop the skills necessary to make real world change.

After a competitive application process, fellows create a year-long project in conjunction with a local placement organization. They identify relevant community needs, establish feasible goals and objectives and see the project to its end, working around 200 hours over the year. Throughout this time, they receive dual mentorship from the EHRP staff and their placement organization.

The 2015 -16 Community Outreach Fellows are currently finishing up and reflecting on their projects. Here is what they have been working on:

Daryl Parker: Parker is graduating in May with a Master’s degree in human rights and social justice. He is currently working alongside the Innocence Project of Texas (IPTX), to provide free investigative services to indigent defendants in pursuit of post-conviction relief on the grounds of actual innocence. His daily work uncovers prosecutorial misconduct, law enforcement error and the negative role money plays in the criminal justice system. With only a two-person staff to handle numerous time-consuming cases, Parker’s services provide unparalleled support for IPTX. Parker had previously volunteered with the organization as part of the service requirement for Dr. Rick Halperin’s human rights course. He was intrigued by the opportunity because of his background as a former criminal investigator. Once he saw how poorly some of the cases had been handled he was committed to the cause. Since his involvement in the COF program, he has learned that “social justice work is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes a lot of people with the right priorities and resources to effect change.”

Liliana Garcia: Garcia is a junior studying international relations. She is also involved in Kappa Delta Chi sorority, inc. and College Hispanic American Students (CHAS). As a first-generation graduate from a Dallas Independent School District (DISD) school, she was inspired to create workshops to prepare students like herself for college. She knew how hard the college application process was and has since been making it easier for those who are following her. She focuses primarily on first-generation Hispanic students and encourages them to attend four-year universities. She works closely with parents and students from the North Dallas region and Roberto Corona, EHRP Community Outreach Coordinator. As a COF, Garcia has learned how to deal with challenging situations, how to find the resources she needs for her projects and how others (especially those in her cohort) are targeting the various issues in the Dallas community.

Sam Butz: Butz is a junior studying creative advertising and fashion media. She was recently awarded a local silver American Advertising Award for her work in product promotion. She is also a member of SMU’s Division I Swim Team and an Engaged Learning Fellow. She has combined her love for fashion, her interest in human rights, and her participation on a swim team that wears SMU purchased uniforms for this project. For the past year, she has researched and developed campaigns on labor rights surrounding the apparel at SMU. This idea first came to her when she was enrolled in Professor Carina Heckert‘s Health as a Human Rights class, which she signed-up for without any knowledge of or interest in the area. Her semester project was on Alta Garcia, a living-wage garment factory in the Dominican Republic. She researched and visited the factory and quickly realized that there was a void on campus surrounding garment worker’s rights. She saw the fellowship as an opportunity to incite change on campus and bring light to the issues at hand. Through her work she has learned how much time goes into research and changing existing systems and because of that, she has also learned that even a small step of progress is a success.

Sandra Ostad: Ostad is a second-year Masters in Liberal Arts student studying Human Rights and Refugees. After interning in the development department at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of Dallas, Ostad decided to apply for the Community Outreach Fellowship to continue her work with the refugee populations of Dallas. She has been working to connect the IRC with refugee communities and to expand their immigration department. A bulk of her work has been focused on developing and implementing a sustainable citizenship education program to help refugees and legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. She is also working on building and strengthening the IRC’s relationships with community partners, religious sites and other resettlement organizations in Dallas. These partners can then work alongside the IRC to ensure that refugees know who to turn to for legal advice and assistance. Her time thus far as a fellow has been exceptionally beneficial in helping her grow intellectually and professionally.

Vanna Ngo: Ngo is a Masters students studying Human Rights and Social Justice. She is working on introducing a restorative justice program into Residence Life and Student Conduct. These measures would work alongside regular adjudication methods and be offered when a student is deemed eligible for participation in a facilitated dialogue. She has worked with the University of Michigan and University of Oregon to develop a training manual. She is now working with SMU’s Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for implementation. She has been able to learn how over 30 colleges and universities in the U.S. have created restorative justice programs of their own and have been successful. She has been inspired by restorative justice programs ability to give victims a voice and to foster a greater sense of community and healing. Ngo also co-founded the non-profit, Peace is Possible, where in conjunction with EHRP they hold a Peace Day Conference each year on the UN declared International Day of Peace.

EHRP Assistant Director Brad Klein has worked closely with this year’s COFs and they’ve each looked to him for motivation and advice through the process. “I am impressed and inspired by this year’s Community Outreach Fellowship projects,” says Klein. Each fellow started one year ago with an idea of how to address a human rights problem. With hard work, determination, and passion, those ideas developed into practical strategies for change. Along the way, the fellows were supported by professionals on campus and in the community who graciously shared time and expertise. All the projects – whether focused on wrongful convictions, migrant education, worker rights, refugee support, or restorative justice – have impacted the SMU and Dallas communities in positive ways.”

Applications for the 2016-17 program are due by April 15. All SMU students who will be enrolled in courses during the fellowship are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the COF website or contact Klein.

2016-04-15T10:36:19+00:00 March 31, 2016|For the Record, News|

Another generation of SMU Civil Rights Pilgrims set out on March 4, 2016

This years travelers with the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage will experience a different kind of spring break. They’ll join 50 others on an eight-day bus journey (March 4-12) to experience the history of the civil rights movement firsthand. I will be one of those lucky travelers.

CRP

This program, started in 2004, continues to grow each year. In 2008, the pilgrimage joined forces with Dr. Dennis Simon‘s Political Science course. Now the trip is also a requirement for undergraduate human rights majors and is offered to students in the Master of Liberal Studies Program.

Ray Jordan, trip leader, pastor and professor, came to our first class to discuss the pilgrimage. I wasn’t too excited about having a night class during my last semester in college, but Jordan made me excited about what was to come this semester. I was amazed by how far back the history of the pilgrimage went. This spring break, I’ll not only be experiencing years of American history but also years of SMU history. I’ll take part in an experience that is an integral part of what being an SMU student is all about.

Our journey will take us through the history of the civil rights movement. We’ll begin in Little Rock and visit Central High School and then move to Selma and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll be around for the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and then continue on through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. We’ll meet former marchers, journalists, and activists. We’ll be meeting, as Dr. Simon describes, “the ordinary who accomplished extraordinary things.” Even with the itinerary in hand, I still am not sure what all I’ll be experiencing, but I’m sure it will all be worthwile. In just two weeks, I’ll be able to attach a face and a story to the names Dr. Simon has repeatedly mentioned in our Thursday night class.

As a book worm myself, I’m most excited to meet those whose memoirs we’ve read throughout the semester. Their stories of struggle and triumph are invigorating and well-written. They’re able to recount painful memories with eloquence and charge. For example, on March 8, we’ll be visiting with Rev. Robert Graetz, the author of A White Preacher’s Memoir. Graetz was assigned as pastor to Trinity Lutheran Church in the black community in Montgomery, Alabama. His memoir honestly retells the “brutal and dehumanizing treatment” of blacks and has already left an impact on my classmates and I. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to hear his experiences in person.

I’ve wanted to take part in this trip since I was a freshman, but it wasn’t until I declared my human rights major last spring that I knew for a fact that this is how I would spend my last spring break in college. I don’t think there could be a better way to round off my experience as a political science and human rights student at SMU.

Students on this year’s pilgrimage have every intent of recording events as they take place, so keep an eye out to hear about their emotional, educational and impactful experiences throughout the week.

Click here to learn more about SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage and stay tuned to hear about this year’s pilgrims.

2016-03-02T09:28:32+00:00 March 2, 2016|News|
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