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Hunter Student Wins Major Human Rights Fellowship

Simratpal Kaur, a student at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter, has won a Humanity in Action Fellowship to study human rights in Poland this summer. Acceptance to the program is highly competitive, and from a national pool of 398 applicants, Kaur is one of only 38 students chosen to participate. Selected on the basis of academic achievement, past activity in defense of human rights, and recommendations from college faculty and other professionals, the fellows attend America’s leading colleges and universities.

Kaur was taking a class at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute when she learned about the fellowship from her professor, Joanne Mariner. Mariner, the Rita Hauser Director of Hunter’s Human Rights Program, urged her to apply.

The fellowship will begin at an international conference in Sarajevo at the end of June. From there, Kaur will move to Warsaw, where she will learn about the history of movements for democracy and human rights in Poland by meeting with activists, political leaders, and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Kaur says that while the program abroad is an academic one, participants will be asked to think of ways to translate ideas to action. The fellowship will continue upon her return home, with the requirement that she design and undertake a project in her own community in defense of civil liberties and human rights.

A graduate of Stuyvesant High School who was born in India and grew up in Queens, Kaur plans to dedicate her life to the cause embodied by this fellowship. As a Hunter student she has studied abroad in Egypt and Italy, and she is currently pursuing a major in political science and media, and a minor in human rights. She plans to study political theory on the graduate level before applying to law school.   

Kaur sees her Roosevelt House class as a turning point in her education. It was Joanne Mariner, she says, who “helped me think of human-rights advocacy as a lifelong career.”

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