This interview was conducted over email with Stephanie Mayle, a senior undergraduate student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, completing a major in Political Science and a minor in French, 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?

Stephanie Mayle (SM): I decided to pursue the human rights certificate because I think human rights as a discipline that combines a lot of areas I’m interested in: literature, advocacy, history, and so on. The certificate counts a lot of different classes at Duke as human rights electives, so I got to take a wide range of classes in different fields.

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

SM: I think the human rights certificate is great because it is so new and flexible. Everyone takes the Intro to Human Rights class, but after that, you can really take anything you want that counts as an elective. It also requires a research component that can either be filled by taking the senior capstone or doing a thesis related to human rights. Altogether, it allows and actively encourages students to explore whatever human rights issue they’re most interested in.

MG: How has the multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program affected your learning while in the certificate? How do you plan to use the information and experiences you’re gaining from the certificate?

SM: I’ve really loved all the classes I’ve taken as part of the certificate. For instance, I took a journalism class, a sociology class, AAAS classes, all of which counted towards the completion of my certificate. I feel like I got to experience a lot of different Duke departments in a way most certificates don’t allow.
MG: How do you plan to use the information and experiences you’re gaining from the certificate?
SM: I hope to pursue a career in human rights, most likely in international development and international affairs. Regardless of what specific career path I take though, I know I will always approach my work and interests from a human rights and ethics framework.

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

SM: I was first exposed to human rights at Duke when I took Human Rights and World Politics with Suzanne Katzenstein as part of the Ethics focus my freshman fall. I loved the class and learned so much from Professor Katzenstein. Last semester, my senior fall, I took another class with Professor Katzenstein called Women as Leaders and it was very full circle to both start and end my Duke career with the person who had introduced me to human rights as a discipline in the first place. And both classes counted as electives for the certificate!