Maya Lytje is a senior at Duke University pursuing a double major in Public Policy and Linguistics with a certificate in Human Rights Studies.
Why did you choose to pursue the human rights certificate?
I realized many of the elective courses I was most interested in were cross-listed in human rights, so I decided to complete the certificate to formally pursue this education. While I felt instinctively that human rights were important and intrinsically related to issues I was committed to, I wanted to have a deepen my understanding of human rights in order to more effectively advocate for their implementation.
What was the most transformative experience you had while studying human rights at Duke?
I appreciate all the opportunities I have had through the certificate to listen to guest speakers both in classes and on campus more generally. I remember clearly one speaker we had in Intro to Human Rights who was on death row and spoke to us over zoom. Having the chance to connect, as a person, with individuals with completely different life experiences related to the human rights issues we are studying has been really impactful.
How has the human rights certificate helped you grow both academically and personally?
The human rights certificate has helped me to understand the historical context of human rights, the legal frameworks related to human rights, and explore the ways in which human rights issues impact communities in the United States and abroad. Personally, it has fueled my desire to pursue a career in human rights work.
How do you plan to integrate human rights into your work in the future?
I am grateful to have been accepted into Harvard Law School where I hope to engage in courses and clinics related to human rights.
Do you have any advice for students considering the human rights certificate?
Definitely consider the human rights certificate! No matter what your major of field of study is, there are human rights implications and human rights related work to be done. Even if you don't plan to do anything related to human rights in your career, I wish more people had this background.