Students reap the benefits of D.C. human rights scholarship

The Washington D.C. Human Rights Seminar is UW Bothell’s longest running experiential learning program and, inarguably, one of its most transformative.  Founded in 1991, the seminar offers a unique opportunity for students to engage with human rights policy at national and international levels. Students travel to D.C. and for six demanding days, taking part in intensive seminars and briefings with institutions and policy makers across the political spectrum.

For many, the seminar is cost prohibitive, but that is changing, thanks to generous donors.  In 2015, alumni of the D.C. Seminar launched the Washington D.C. Travel Assistance Fund to support the program fees of two students each year.  Last fall, Salvador Salazar-Cano and Aysha Raza were awarded this competitive, need-based scholarship, and the experience was life-changing.

Aysha Raza with D.C. Seminar Group
Aysha Raza (center) with D.C. Seminar group

Raza, who is double majoring in Law, Economics & Public Policy and Global Studies and considering careers in international diplomacy, was inspired by her interactions. “By speaking with organizations such as Human Rights Watch, I learned that activists risk their lives to bring awareness to human rights violations. They refuse to give up because there is important work to be done…I will try to do whatever I can to help bring awareness to situations, and become a voice for those who have none.”

Salazar-Cano is making his mark on multiple levels.  A senior in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior, he has interned at 21 Progress, a Seattle nonprofit for equity and justice; worked as a student assistant in the UW Bothell Diversity Center; and served as the first full-time advocate at the Washington Legislature for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell.  Salazar-Cano’s experience has opened new possibilities. “The D.C. seminar expanded my knowledge in areas I had not even considered. It shed light on the shortcomings of international human rights and how students and future professionals can influence public policy for supporting our International community. More importantly, it bridged several gaps between the theoretical and the practical; that's what makes this experience unique…I am deeply humbled to have had the opportunity to be part of the DC Human Rights Seminar and have come home with the mindset to create change.”

This year, the IAS Advisory Board is leading a campaign to raise $25,000 toward eliminating financial obstacles to the D.C. Seminar. Consider making this transformative experience accessible to all students by making a gift to the Washington D.C. Travel Assistance Fund!