St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf student awarded Humanity in Action Fellowship

MertMerve400x450A passion for human rights, a commitment to meaningful dialogue, and an enthusiasm for connecting with others who hope to create change has earned St. Olaf College student Merve Mert ‘17 a Humanity in Action Fellowship.

Humanity in Action is an educational organization that has established an international network of leaders, young professionals, and students who are committed to promoting human rights and democratic freedom.

The organization sponsors a summer fellowship that brings together students from Europe and the United States to study histories of discrimination and resistance as well as contemporary challenges to human rights and democracy.

Mert, who first heard about Humanity in Action through information provided by the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, was drawn to the opportunity to explore these issues, particularly those related to minority rights, as well as to study with like-minded students.

“Having the chance to meet passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds who care about human and minority rights and who are willing to take action to help fight discrimination is one of the things that excites me most,” says Mert, who will spend the summer in Amsterdam as part of the program.

As a co-captain of the St. Olaf Debate Team, a moderator of Sustained Dialogue, and an Inclusivity Advocate, Mert is deeply involved in the St. Olaf community. These commitments speak to her dedication to meaningful dialogue and her belief that “interaction is one of the first steps to understand the ‘other’ and meaningfully live together with people who are not necessarily like us.”

In addition, Mert has accumulated influential professional and academic experiences that will serve her in the fellowship program. Two summers ago, she interned at a think tank in her home country of Turkey called the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, where she worked with minority rights issues. And last summer, Mert was a Peace Scholar studying peace, dialogue, and conflict in Norway.

“Humanity in Action is the perfect next step for me after the Norway Peace Scholars program,” says Mert, who hopes to earn her master’s degree in a field related to international relations or human rights.

“I’m hoping that Humanity in Action will allow me to broaden my perspective, expand my knowledge on the rights issues pertaining to minorities, and connect with passionate young people who want to make a change in the world.”