This interview was conducted over email with Alicia Porile, a senior undergraduate student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, completing a major in Public Policy and a minor in Spanish, by Miranda Gershoni, a second-year undergraduate student working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Miranda Gershoni (MG): Why did you decide to pursue the human rights certificate?

Alicia Porile (AP): I wanted to pursue this certificate to ensure that human rights were a critical part of my learning at Duke.  While there are many fields of study, human rights have implications in nearly all of them. Having a nuanced understanding of human rights across different contexts is extremely important to me moving forward as a young professional.

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

AP: This certificate is unique in its support of individual choice of classes. By allowing students to target the human rights spheres that interest them most, this certificate really allows every student to tailor their human rights education to be personally meaningful. 

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

AP: The multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program helped me understand human rights from many different perspectives.  Personally, I took human rights courses from the Spanish, cultural anthropology, public policy, documentary studies, and English departments.  Each department had different priorities and perspectives, allowing me to deepen my understanding of human rights concepts. 

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

AP: I plan to use the information I gained from this certificate in my future professional and personal life. Through this certificate, I have gained a broad understanding of how human rights exist within systems and across the globe and the importance of making sure every individual retains their human rights. With so many human rights crises occurring around the world and here at home, this understanding will help me make informed choices and actions as I try and help make the world a more equitable place.

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

AP: The most impactful moment of my time in this certificate occurred in a class I took about sexual assault on college campuses.  One of the speakers who came was a poet who is a survivor of domestic violence. Hearing her read her poetry and recount her experiences was incredibly meaningful.  It can be easy to get lost in the academics of human rights and view it conceptually from such a broad perspective that the importance at the individual, human level can get lost. This experience was a very personal reminder of why the study and defense of human rights are so important.