The Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies congratulate Whitney Taylor and Katie Menke as the recipients of the 3rd annual human rights awards.
Taylor is the recipient of the Sullivan Ballou award, and Menke received the Inna Meiman Award. These two exemplary students have demonstrated incredible aptitude, commitment, and passion in their service of others throughout their time at the University of Minnesota.
An awards luncheon will take place on Friday, May 3 at 12:00 p.m. 280 Ferguson Hall.
Whitney Taylor is a dedicated and emerging human rights activist and scholar, who exhibits incredible energy and intellect inspiring and mobilizing all of those around her.
Taylor has contributed expertise in editing and assisting various human rights research projects and publications and has conducted some of her own human rights research.
Whitney has also contributed to the promotion of human rights through her travels to South Africa during the summer of 2011, where she worked to empower individuals as a research intern for the Southern African Media and Gender Institute. While in Cape Town, Whitney worked to bring meaningful change and to give a voice to those who might otherwise not have been heard through facilitating empowerment workshops in women's prisons.
As an employee at the Human Rights Program, Whitney has assisted in successfully carrying out countless human rights events, which have served to raise awareness on many different critical human rights issues.
Katie Menke, is a devoted human rights activist and scholar whose summa thesis examines the work of the Salvadorian organization, Pro-Busqueda, which reunites families with children who were kidnapped during the country's civil war. In addition to her academic attention to issues of human rights and social justice, Katie has given freely and extensively of herself to advocating on behalf of human rights, particularly in relation to youth, homelessness and inequality. This past winter, Katie took the initiative to spread information about resources for the homeless in Minneapolis, including a program established by St. Stephen's Outreach. During the fall/winter of 2010-11, Katie volunteered with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), working throughout the Twin Cities specifically on their retail cleaning campaign, which focused on bringing attention the poor working conditions of retail cleaners.
The Inna Meiman Award is given in recognition of the friendship between Inna Meiman, a Soviet era Jewish refusenik who was repeatedly denied a visa to seek medical treatment and Lisa Paul a graduate of the University of Minnesota, who fought tirelessly on her behalf, including a 25-day hunger strike that galvanized a movement for Inna's freedom. The friendship between Paul and Meiman is memorialized in the book, Swimming in the Daylight: An American Student, a Soviet-Jewish Dissident, and the Gift of Hope.
The Sullivan Ballou Award is named after Major Sullivan Ballou, an Army soldier killed at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Ballou became the inspiration for this award because of the heartfelt commitment he expressed in a letter to his wife before the battle. The award carries on Ballou's spirit by honoring a student who acts from the heart and devotes heartfelt energy to those around them.
The celebration is hosted by the Human Rights Program in the Institute for Global Studies and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.