This summer, recent University of Rochester graduates Lendsey Achudi ’14 and Jonathan Johnson ’14 will travel to Eastern Europe as 2014 Humanity in Action (HIA) fellows. Achudi and Johnson are the sixth and seventh Rochester students or alums to be selected as HIA fellows since 2006.
Formed in 1999, HIA is an international non-profit organization that promotes the protection of the rights of minorities and raises awareness of human rights issues. Fellows are placed in the United States, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Poland for a six-week program, where they have the opportunity to engage with diplomats, journalists, scholars, and leaders of human rights organizations. The students also complete research and write a report on human rights or minority issues in their host country.
Achudi, a native of Maseno, Kenya, is no stranger to international travel. Her resume displays her conference travels and study abroad experiences in France, Spain, Brazil, Korea, and England, but missing on her list is Eastern Europe, an area of the world Achudi, an international relations and French double major, is eager to explore. As an HIA fellow in Warsaw, Poland, Achudi will undergo an intensive study of the Holocaust as the most devastating example of the collapse of democratic civil society and the denial of rights to minorities. “I have a great interest in international relations, global security, and human rights, specifically, the genocide occurring in Central Africa,” she said, “and this experience will provide a deep understanding of the events of World War II.”
Although Achudi was active in several student-run organizations at Rochester, as founder and president of Young Technopreneurs, she devoted a significant amount of her undergraduate career building an organization that harnesses the entrepreneurial power of young Africans to solve social problems specific to their communities using diversified high technology. Through the organization, she chaired the annual African Youth Assemblies, which gathered youth leaders from the 54 African states to discuss and draft policy recommendations on African Youth issues for consideration by the African Union, the United Nations and all relevant stakeholders.
Achudi also spent a year traveling to and from New York City to serve as a temporary advisor to the Kenya Mission to the United Nations. There, she specialized in the First Committee of the United Nations dealing with disarmament and international security to anticipate, identify and evaluate global risks that carry a significant risk to Kenyan citizens, and strategic allies. She also participated in the Special Committee on Cyber Security appointed by the UN Security Council.
Achudi was awarded a Renaissance and Global Scholarship at Rochester, which provides full tuition annually for high school academic and leadership excellence, intellectual curiosity, social awareness and leadership promise. She was awarded several grants, including the Rochester International Grant, the Mesrob Mashtots Research and Innovations Grant, and a study abroad grant. Additionally, she was awarded the Fannie Bigelow Prize from the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership in recognition of her individuality and ability to form and express fearlessly, with conviction and sound judgment, her own opinions on vital topics.
Johnson, who studied political science and anthropology, heads to Berlin, Germany for his HIA fellowship. While abroad, he will study Europe’s approach to ethnic violence and moral economy.
This is the second major fellowship Johnson has earned while at Rochester. In 2013, he was selected as a Public Policy & International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Junior Summer Institute. Both fellowships build on Johnson’s interest in the intersection of identity and policy, specifically how disadvantaged populations overcome obstacles.
“The experiences are honing the skills required to conduct policy analysis,” he said. “I’m hoping through HIA, I’ll be able to learn from the policy makers and experts that deal with human rights issues and become well-prepared for a career in public policy.”
Johnson has been an active member of the campus community, earning the Student Life Award for Campus Contributions in 2013. He served as a resident advisor for four years and as a Meridian, an ambassador for the Admissions Office. A perennial member of the Dean’s List, he participated in the Compass to Personal Success and Urban Fellows programs, two leadership and civic engagement initiatives through the University’s Rochester Center for Community Leadership. Johnson also was president of the men’s volleyball club.
Johnson, a native of Crystal River, Fla., is a graduate of Lecanto High School in Lecanto, Fla. Upon completion of his HIA fellowship, he hopes to spend a year traveling before pursuing an advanced degree in public policy.
Category: Student Life