2019 Human Rights Center Fellows
We are pleased to announce the 2019 Human Rights Center Fellows.This year, eight of our seventeen fellows will stay in Minnesota, working with high-impact organizations to defend rights of refugees, immigrants, and women’s rights, enhancing the understanding of Islam, and researching the situation of economic and social rights in the Middle East. Five fellows will be based elsewhere in the U.S. working on issues ranging from capital punishment to ending violence against women and children. The remaining four fellows will work for human rights organizations abroad: one in the United Nations system in Geneva, one in Santo Domingo, one in Phnom Penh, and one in Sanremo, Italy.
Stay tuned to our Facebook page for regular updates from our fellows.
Anna Berglund (1L)
Tenant Protection Unit – New York City, New York
Anna will be spending this summer with the New York Homes and Community Renewal’s Tenant Protection Unit. This lengthily-named organization works to enforce the rent stabilization laws in New York City in an effort to prevent the spread of gentrification. Some landlords in NYC deploy a variety of abusive tactics to force low and middle-income residents out of their buildings in order to fill them with higher paying tenants. The Tenant Protection Unit works with tenants to identify abusive practices and prevent harassing behavior.
Anna is very excited to have the opportunity to work on issues of gentrification and pursue her interest in housing law. She is passionate about economic equality and hopes to spend her career making the law work for those it has traditionally disadvantaged. In her spare time, she enjoys running back and forth across the Mississippi river, riding as many different bus lines in Minneapolis as possible, and eating the food her delightful friends cook for her.
Cooper Christiancy (1L)
The Advocates for Human Rights, Refugee & Immigrant Rights – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cooper Christiancy is a member of the Class of 2021 at the University of Minnesota Law School. At UMN, he is active as a Student Admissions Ambassador, Member of the OutLaw Board, and Street Law volunteer. He also was a part of the UMN Asylum Law Project during the 2018-2019 academic year. Before law school, Cooper graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied Global Studies and Communication Studies. As an undergraduate, Cooper was particularly interested in critical rhetorical studies, and was active in community organizations dedicated to immigration justice.
Cooper’s interests include asylum law, LGBTQ+ protections, and the legal issues surrounding use of global commons. This summer, he will be participating in the—aptly named— Cooper Fellowship at the Advocates for Human Rights, providing support to the organization’s Refugee and Immigrant Rights Program.
Jen Davison (1L)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Prior to attending law school, Jen worked in higher education administration and development at Harvard University as a writer and strategist. A native of Portland, Oregon, she always had an interest in understanding the experiences of people across geography and cultures and spent summers in high school on public service projects in the Philippines, Brazil, and Kenya. Her first BA was in Religion with an Intercultural Studies Emphasis from a small private college near Vancouver, BC, Canada. She then spent a number of years working with elementary and high school students with autism, as well as in residential care for disabled adults. Always a strong writer, she next earned a BA in Honors English from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. After participating in various volunteer opportunities focused on discrimination, poverty, mental illness, addiction, and gender injustice, Jen decided to pursue a law degree to put her experiences and writing skills to work advancing civil and human rights.
As a Human Rights Center Fellow and recipient of the Dobias Human Rights Fellowship, Jen is honored to be the 2019 Abdinasir Hussein Civil Rights Summer Law Clerk at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in its Minneapolis, Minnesota chapter. CAIR is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. Jen looks forward to supporting CAIR’s efforts by contributing to legal research, advocacy, and counseling for instances of employment discrimination, school bullying and harassment, land use opposition, hate crimes and vandalism, racial and religious profiling, extra-judicial exile, and more.
Karina Estrada (1L)
Juvenile Justice Advocates International – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Karina grew up between Northern California and Cuernavaca, Mexico. After graduating high school, she attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, eventually earning a degree in Intensive Psychology. During her college years, she was lucky enough to travel to Spain and Japan for several artistic projects, as well as attend a semester at Trinity College at Dublin. She enjoys making jewelry and learning carpentry and is interested in real estate and architecture, owning several properties that are on the National Registry of Historic Places. She also opened a New Orleans themed blues bar, occasionally making an appearance to sing with the band when she is in town.
As a Human Rights Fellow this summer, Karina will be working with incarcerated youth, conducting research and collecting qualitative data through interviews about their experiences. She is honored to be placed in this internship and hopes to contribute to a shift in international law regarding the imprisonment of children while honing her Spanish speaking skills.
Elizabeth Frazier (1L)
Human Rights Center – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Elizabeth came to the University of Minnesota Law School after earning a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Missouri State University. Her interest in human rights began while studying the Arab-Israeli conflict in Amman, Jordan and continued to grow throughout the course of her undergraduate studies. Elizabeth is particularly interested in international law and decided to pursue law school to become an advocate for human rights.
This summer Elizabeth will be a research fellow with the Human Rights Center. She will be researching the situation of economic and social rights in the Middle East, with special emphasis on the human right to water and a geographic focus on Iran. On the basis of this research Elizabeth with draft several formal communications to relevant UN special procedures on behalf of the Center.
Taylor Gunderson (2L)
Center for Victims of Torture – St. Paul, Minnesota
Taylor hails from the great mitten state of Michigan. As an undergraduate, she attended the University of Michigan majoring in International Studies and Political Science with a focus on “International Norms and Security.” Prior to attending law school, Taylor worked at the Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid-Michigan. Since becoming a law student, Taylor has served as an executive board member for both the Women’s Law Student Association and the Human Rights Advocacy Project. She has also had the opportunity to serve as a research assistant to Professor Ni Aolain and be a part of the Human Rights Litigation & International Legal Advocacy clinic. During the summer of 2018, Taylor was fortunate to be able to enforce human rights protections here in the Twin Cities while working at the Saint Paul Department of Human Rights.
This summer Taylor will be working at the Center for Victims of Torture as part of the New Tactics Online Engagement and Research summer internship. The New Tactics program gathers tactics being used by human rights activists globally and then analyzes and disseminates them in order to advance the protection of human rights around the world. Taylor is excited to work with such an incredible organization and to be able to learn how to effectively accomplish human rights goals.
Sara Halimah (2L)
Tahirih Justice Center – Atlanta, Georgia
Sara Halimah is from Minnesota. Prior to law school she pursued a BA at the University of Minnesota in Anthropology and Global Studies with a focus on Human Rights and Justice. She has been involved in human rights work since her undergraduate career, working with The Advocates for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program. She has been engaged with the Human Rights Center through law school through events, courses, and volunteer programs.
This summer Sara will be interning with the Tahirih Justice Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Tahirih Justice Center works nationally to end violence against women and girls. As part of her work she will be representing women in detention in immigration and asylum cases, and is excited to have the opportunity to contribute.
Sam Horowitz (2L)
International Institute of Humanitarian Law – Sanremo, Italy
Before attending undergraduate and law school, Sam served in the United States Marine Corps as an Arabic linguist and signals intelligence operator for five years. He also received an AA degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Defense Language Institute. Upon completion of his active duty service, Sam attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with distinction after three years with a BA degree in International Studies and a focus on politics and policy in the global economy. Following his exposure to and subsequent interest in global issues and human rights, Sam decided to attend law school and concentrate on public international law. While in law school, Sam has worked as a research assistant for the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism and as a law clerk at the criminal defense firm of Brockton Hunter, P.A.
This summer, Sam will be studying at and working with the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo, Italy. Specifically, Sam will be interning in the Military Department that mainly instructs JAG officers (military lawyers) in the laws of armed conflict. He hopes to increase his knowledge of the laws of war and of current issues and scholarship in the field and to begin to translate this experience into a career in human rights and humanitarian law.
Meghan Knapp (2L)
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Geneva, Switzerland
Before entering law school, Meghan studied Early Modern Polish History. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison for her undergraduate education, graduate school at Indiana University – Bloomington, and she was a research fellow at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. While in Kraków, Meghan served as an intern for the US State Department, analyzing Polish social media, newspapers, and radio on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This experience combined with being a witness to the wave of Syrian refugees then entering into Central and Eastern Europe caused her to evaluate her career objectives, leading her to law school and international human rights advocacy. Last summer Meghan worked on Amnesty International’s End Gun Violence campaign. During her time in law school, she has also researched torture jurisprudence, counterterrorism issues, and other human rights issues.
This summer Meghan will be working as in the Petitions Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, serving the Secretariat for U.N. human rights treaty bodies with regard to individual complaints. She will be screening incoming complaints to evaluate if a prima facie case has been presented or if additional information is needed from the petitioner. She will follow individual complaint proceedings from different U.N. human rights treaty bodies and assist human rights officers with legal issues related to pending cases, such as requests for interim measures, objections to the admissibility, etc.
Allison Maybee (1L)
EOIR Bloomington Immigration Court – Bloomington, Minnesota
Allison grew up in Iowa and graduated from Wartburg College with a degree in International Relations and Peace and Justice Studies. She spent a semester in Israel/Palestine studying peace and conflict and researching prison conditions for women in Neve Tirza. This sparked her passion for working with those in detention and immigrants or displaced persons. Before law school, Allison interned with the immigration departments of Catholic Charities Diocese of Des Moines and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. This gave her the opportunity to work with refugees during their first 90 days in the U.S. and later on in the immigration process. Since beginning law school, Allison’s passion for working with immigrants has grown through the Asylum Law Project and other volunteer opportunities.
This summer, Allison will be working with the EOIR Bloomington Immigration Court in Bloomington, Minnesota. She will spend her summer learning from the judges and attorney advisors while contributing to pre-hearing motions and preparation of bench memoranda, research and analysis of novel immigration issues, and decisions on applications for relief from removal. Allison hopes gaining perspective from the Court will help her become an effective advocate for immigrants.
Rachael Melby (2L)
Southern Center for Human Rights – Atlanta, Georgia
Rachael grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and graduated with honors from Bethany Lutheran College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, as well as minors in Legal Studies, Communication, and Sociology. During her undergraduate years, she interned on the defense and prosecution side of criminal law, and volunteered as a sexual assault advocate. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C. and interned at Georgetown University Law Center as an investigator for five months in their Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic. The summer prior to law school she worked as a legal intern for the Innocence Project of Minnesota (IPMN) investigating cases of individuals who maintain their innocence while serving out prison sentences. This year she returned to IPMN as a student attorney through the clinic program at the University of Minnesota.
Last summer Rachel had the privilege of working at the Texas Defender Service on both the Capital Trial Unit and the Postconviction Unit, helping defend those faced with capital punishment. This summer she will be interning at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, helping represent individuals facing the death penalty and other marginalized groups in the South. She will be expected to assist in all aspects of the Center’s work, which includes research and writing legal issues, visiting clients, representing inmates before the Alabama’s parole board, attending depositions and court hearings, and locating and interviewing witnesses.
Aron Mozes (1L)
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, Immigration Law Project – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Aron was born in Budapest, Hungary and immigrated to the US as a small child. He has always been interested in human rights, with a particular interest in immigration due to his personal background. Before starting law school at the University of Minnesota he worked as a teacher in both Minnesota and Palestine. Prior to teaching he studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Economics and International Studies. While a student at UW-Madison he worked with an international NGO focused on education and sustainability and interned for a human rights commission in Washington D.C. Aron’s educational, professional, and personal experiences have shaped his interest in Human Rights Law, specifically the rights of immigrants and refugees.
This summer Aron will be working with the Immigration Law Project at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is excited to work with a legal aid organization dedicated to serving the needs of the immigrant population of the Twin Cities community and to work with folks who are going through the same immigration process his family went through.
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Office of the Co-prosecutors – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In 2016, Michelle began her international human rights journey with Whole World Women Association in Cape Town, South Africa, an organization which focused on providing legal and survival services for refugee women. In 2017, Michelle had the opportunity to work at Feminist Dalit Organization in Kathmandu, Nepal, concentrating on Dalit human rights. During her 1L summer, Michelle worked with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking in Fort Myers, Florida, assisting victims of human trafficking and raising awareness of human trafficking issues to Florida lawmakers, police, and community leaders.
This summer, Michelle will be interning in the Office of the International Co-Prosecutor in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This international-national hybrid court was set up to try the senior leaders responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979.
Emily Thornton (2L)
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at UC Hastings – San Francisco, California
Emily grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota and graduated with honors from the College of St. Benedict with a degree in political science and gender studies. As an undergraduate, she interned with Afghanaid, a humanitarian and development NGO in London, and also worked locally in civil legal aid. In the summer of 2018, she worked on anti-discrimination matters as an intern with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. In her second year at the University of Minnesota Law School, she furthered her interest in advancing the rights of noncitizens by serving as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. Additionally, she served as an immigration law clerk with Karam Law in Bloomington, Minnesota.
This summer, Emily will be working at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. She will have the opportunity to be involved in CGRS’s appellate advocacy, legal research, and international and national policy advocacy to advance the rights of asylum-seekers.
Marisa Tillman (2L)
ABA Commission on Immigration – Washington, D.C.
Marisa grew up as in Calamba City, Philippines as the child of expats. Because of this, she has always been interested in international and national policies having to do with migrants’ rights. She attended Bethel University for her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and International Relations. Before attending law school, Marisa was a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member in Baltimore, Maryland, working as legal assistant for the World Relief Baltimore Immigration Clinic. She worked with low-income clients and helped them receive legal representation for their immigration cases. In addition to her job, she advocated for migrants’ rights through marches, pro-bono clinics and Know Your Rights seminars, and taking any advocacy opportunity she could. As a dual degree student pursuing both a JD and a Master’s in Public Policy, Marisa hopes to continue her work as an advocate for all migrants and displaced persons both at the legal level and at the policy level.
This summer, Marisa will be working at the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Commission on Immigration in Washington, D.C. The ABA Commission on Immigration has the only nation-wide hotline serving people who are in immigration proceedings while they are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). There are 50,000 ICE detainees who are locked up in more than 250 facilities across the country, most of which are rural county jails where detainees have no access to pro bono immigration attorneys. Marisa will work with these detained callers to get them the legal help that they need and assist them by drafting complaints, helping them through filing for habeas corpus, and advising them on asylum claims. She will also do legal and policy research on current immigration policies and work on individual projects to address these new issues, drafting packets to be distributed to detainees and to the legal community. Marisa is excited to do substantive work to ensure that immigrants are receiving the rights due to them and to experience policy work in the nation’s capital.
Kristin Trapp (1L)
The Advocates – International Women’s Human Rights – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kristin Trapp is currently a 1L at the University of Minnesota Law School. She completed her business degree from the Carlson School of Management and obtained her Masters Degree from the London School of Economic’s Gender Institute. Her research at LSE focused primarily on sexual violence in conflict zones, specifically looking at state and non-state actor’s policy responses.
Kristin will serve as an International Women’s Human Rights Fellow at the Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis. She will be writing on violence against women in the Central and Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union regions, preparing UN reports, and writing about the impacts and strategies of the radical right in those regions and how they impact women’s human rights, along with women’s human rights defenders.
Broktawit Wubeshet (LLM)
The Advocates for Human Rights, Refugee & Immigrant Rights – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Broktawit a graduate lawyer from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. She is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Immigration law at the University of Minnesota Law School. She is passionate about Human Rights, and loves to advocate for other people. In 2015, Broktawit was an exchange student from Uppsala University studying here at the Law School. After finishing her exchange semester, she did an internship while writing her master thesis. She had the opportunity to intern at a non-profit organization in Minneapolis, Global Rights for Women, working on their mission to end violence against women. After she graduated in 2016, she worked for almost two years at the Swedish Immigration Agency. During her time working there, she investigated asylum cases to determine an individual’s eligibility for asylum in Sweden. Broktawit dealt with a wide range of cases with applicant’s from various countries and with different backgrounds and stories.
This summer, Broktawit will be working at the Advocates for Human Rights with its refugee and immigration program. She will assist in providing high-quality legal work for low-income immigrants. The Advocates handles a great number of cases each year, and she am thrilled to be a part of their work. Some of the duties that this position entails are legal and human rights research and preparation of asylum applications, briefs, and affidavits. Other work that she will do is interviewing clients, taking intakes in order to prepare asylum seeker’s claims.