This interview was conducted over email with Cole Wicker, a senior undergraduate student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, by Kyra Josephson, senior undergraduate student, majoring in History and working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Kyra Josephson: How did you decide that you wanted to study human rights or pursue the human rights certificate?

Cole Wicker: After taking Duke immerse, Human Rights in Latin America, I found myself on a Duke Engage trip working with undocumented migrants in Tucson AZ. The work that I learned about all semester became so instrumental in my understandings of what I was doing in the field. This is why I want to study human rights because there are real-world applications, and that means serving people. 

Kyra: In what ways has the interdisciplinary study of human rights been unique or different from other academic experiences?

Cole: I feel like my experience with Human Rights has been very hands on. From my fieldwork in the classroom (my thesis) or writing an open for the local paper, I feel like the work I was doing had an application outside of Duke AND the program encouraged it. 

Kyra: How have you learned about human rights outside of your courses or engaged with the practice of human rights?

Cole: Duke Engage was a huge supplemental experience. However, I found the courses helped shape my understandings and connections to all sorts of human rights-related topics in the area. I find that I can’t go far without seeing some event related to human rights – and that’s a good thing!

Kyra: Do you have specific human rights interests?

Cole: Land rights. Understanding who owns land, who has rights to land and how land gets taken away is very interesting. It also has application in almost every other aspect of human rights. 

Kyra: Are you interested in pursuing a career in human rights after graduation? If so, how has the certificate prepared you?

Cole: I’m not sure it will be explicitly human rights, but I believe the certificate has prepared me to keep human rights at the front of my career conversation!

Kyra: Is there an event, course, or project related to human rights that has shaped your time at Duke or future plans?

Cole: Robin Kirk’s op-ed. I realized I had a voice and people wanted to hear it.