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5 SMU students participating in yearlong human rights-focused projects

North Dallas Gazette

Originally Posted: January 9, 2017

Five SMU scholars recently tapped as Community Outreach Fellows are pursuing yearlong human rights-focused projects “to put cutting-edge ideas into practical action,” says Bradley Klein, associate director of the fellowship’s sponsor, SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP).

So far, the EHRP has financially supported 15 Community Outreach Fellows, who collectively have worked with a variety of Dallas-Fort Worth human rights groups to provide more than 3,000 service hours to improve lives in the region.

SMU’s current Community Outreach Fellows and their projects are:

Dominique Earland, a senior majoring in human rights and biology, is partnering with the Dallas County Fetal-Infant Mortality Review at Parkland Hospital to teach healthcare rights and ensure appropriate services are offered to mothers and babies at risk because of socioeconomic status, lack of citizenship documentation, age or other factors.

Suzanne Massey, a master’s candidate in the Lyle School of Engineering’s Sustainability and Development Program and SMU’s Director of Community Relations, is working with the nonprofits Kids-U and the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas to complete a Photovoice and mapping project to help children become advocates for their community and disrupt cycles of poverty and violence.

Kate Moody, a senior majoring in human rights and international studies, is independently pursuing an applied research project by gathering comprehensive data on the cost-effectiveness of the death penalty in Dallas County. Her goal is to ensure more informed dialogue about the effectiveness of criminal justice procedures.

Syed Rizvi, a senior majoring in human rights and political science, is working with major mosques in the Dallas area to integrate human rights components into their Islamic religious education curricula for children.

Stephanie Staton, a master’s of divinity candidate, will work with two local United Methodist Churches (Kessler Park and White Rock) to create a leadership and dialogue training program to bring together congregation members with their refugee neighbors newly settled in each area.

Founded in 2014, the Community Outreach Fellowship program selects only a handful of applicants at a time “to ensure each fellow gets the proper time and attention to push forward,” Klein says.

Fellows receive dual mentorship during the course of their project. “One side, provided by EHRP staff, provides connections to academic development and career goals. The other side, offered by the placement organization, helps fellows pursue feasible goals, understand community needs and cultivate necessary skills.”

Any SMU undergraduate or graduate student may seek a Community Outreach Fellowship, but human rights majors and minors are especially encouraged to apply, Klein says.

“Human rights touch every part of life, so every type of student can benefit regardless of their career goals,” Klein says. “We help every fellow generate strategic initiatives, measure meaningful outcomes and build sustainable legacies.” READ MORE