This interview was conducted over email with Alexa Rooney, a student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, by Zac Johnson, a fourth-year undergraduate student working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. In addition to the Human Rights Certificate, Alexa is earning majors in International Comparative Studies and History.

Zac Johnson (ZJ): Why did you decide to pursue the human rights certificate?

Alexa Rooney (AR): I chose to pursue the human rights certificate after taking the Gateway Seminar my Freshman spring. I found the classwork both engaging and an important perspective to approach my History and International Comparative Studies majors with. I was able to learn about and consider topics not typically covered in other curricula, as well as challenge beliefs I subconsciously and consciously held as a result of my earlier education.

ZJ: What makes this certificate unique from other programs at Duke?

AR: One thing about the certificate that strikes me as unique from other programs at Duke is that the DHRC has a strong community that extends beyond the classroom. Students have the opportunity to engage with human rights not just in a multidisciplinary way, but through making connections with a diverse array of people across the Duke and Durham community.

ZJ: How has the multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program affected your learning while in the certificate

AR: The multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program both deepened my understanding of the material as well as my passion for human rights that I am able to extend throughout my academic career and hopefully my professional career.

ZJ: How do you plan to use the information and experiences you’re gaining from the certificate after you graduate?

AR: I hope to be in a position to be part of an eventual solution to some of the systemic issues identified throughout the program.

ZJ: What has been the most impactful moment (lecture, activity, reading, professor, etc) you’ve gained from the program?

AR: I loved my recent visit to Geer Cemetery in Durham. Learning about the history of the cemetery as well as the work of Friends of Geer Cemetery is imperative to understanding the history of Durham and also incredibly impactful.

ZJ: How has the Human Rights Certificate shaped your life outside of academic and professional settings?

AR: The Human Rights Certificate has inspired me to take part in discussions about topics and issues we discuss with my friends and peers, especially as they are relevant in current events. I’ve also learned a lot of context and background information that allows me to bring a nuanced perspective to domestic and global issues.