This interview was conducted over email with Ce’Ondra Ellison, a student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, by Zac Johnson, a third-year undergraduate student working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. Ce’Ondra is earning majors in Psychology and African and African American Studies.

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

Ce’Ondra Ellison (CE): I decided to pursue the human rights certificate due to my experience studying refugee migration during my study abroad for Duke in Oxford. The course, Political Economy of Refugee Migration, focused on the history of refugees and the treatment of refugee populations within refugee camps. It also focused on international policy related to asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons and examined economic differences in humanitarian responses between developed and developing host countries to refugees. The global perspective of the course and its focus on human rights interventions for refugee populations made me curious to learn more about human rights and international policy.

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

CE: The certificate is unique from other programs at Duke due to the ability to study human rights issues from different disciplines. Being exposed to how different faculty and departments approach the issue of human rights has helped me to start formulating my own approach to human rights issues that involves a combination of research and advocacy work.

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

CE: The multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program helped me to expand my research and academic interest outside the classroom by working with organizations and programs that allow me to apply my human rights knowledge and advocate for individuals facing racial and social inequality.

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

CE: After graduation, I plan to pursue a legal career so I can use the advocacy skills and knowledge I learned from the certificate program to promote human rights and advocate for racial and social justice.

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

CE: The most impactful moment was receiving the Human Rights Summer Research grant and being able to explore the interconnection of citizenship, civil rights, and human rights as it relates to education and race in America. The interconnection between civil rights and human rights was a topic that I explored in the introductory course to human rights, and I enjoyed being able to explore that more through my summer research.

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

CE: The certificate has shaped my life outside of academic and professional settings by expanding my knowledge of human rights issues and concepts within and outside the U.S. so I can engage in discussions about human rights issues globally and domestically.