This interview was conducted over email with Multy Oliver, 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. Multy is earning a major in Public Policy with a minor in Theater Studies.

Zac Johnson (ZJ): Why did you decide to pursue the Human Rights Certificate?

Multy Oliver (MO): I decided to pursue the Human Rights Certificate because I’ve always had a passion for how human rights interact with civil rights. I admired the work human rights organizations do to guarantee individuals their basic human rights through legislation and was fascinated by how many rights are recognized by the UDHR but not all governments. I was so happy to find out that I could learn more about all of this through the certificate.

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

MO: I’ve always felt like the Human Rights Certificate creates a community of individuals who really want to help the world. We’re all connected by our fascination and respect for people’s ability to live a free and fulfilled life, which I think is unique from communities created by other programs at Duke.

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

MO: The courses I’ve taken for this certificate have been some of my favorites. I love how the courses in this program can tie all different aspects of society back to human rights in many different disciplines. It lets me connect all of my interests with the consistent thread of this certificate and human rights.

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

MO: I think my long-term goal is to use my knowledge from this program’s courses and my passion for equity to do community-oriented work that emphasizes the importance of everyone’s basic rights in life. I’m also interested in the path to becoming a human rights attorney that advocates for these rights legally to ensure an equitable justice system.

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

MO: There was a moment in Professor Robin Kirk’s Human Rights and Speculative Fiction course when we were reading about fictional worlds and their human rights interpretations, that I realized that human rights span so far beyond the basic rights and their intersection with civil rights. It’s in our scientific and technological advancements, access to the arts and arts education and the general ability to benefit from the creations of our society without discrimination.

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

MO: The Human Rights Certificate has made me a more empathetic person in general. It’s shaped my understanding of what should be afforded to every individual just by virtue of them existing as a human being. It has given me a new foundation for what everyone deserves separate from the rights given by governing bodies.