The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas School of Law has named three law students as Rapoport Center Human Rights Scholars for the 2012–2013 school year. Mark Dawson, Vanshika Vij, and Meredith Weaver were selected by a committee of international law faculty on the basis of their academic credentials, leadership skills, and dedication to human rights work. Each of the students will receive a scholarship.
The scholars work with faculty and administrators affiliated with the Center to help coordinate many of the Center’s current programs and initiatives, including the working paper series on human rights, the archives of Frances T. “Sissy” Farenthold, and the upcoming 2013 conference entitled “Impunity, Justice and the Human Rights Agenda.” They also engage in human rights research and advocacy projects.
Mark Dawson received a BA from John Brown University in 2007 and studied community development in Fiji and Uganda. After graduation, he traveled extensively in East Africa helping the underprivileged and has been the director of development of an orphanage in rural Kenya since 2007. He hopes to pursue a career in international human rights law after graduation and focus on increasing access to justice in the developing world. In addition to being a Human Rights Scholar, he is currently a student attorney at the UT Human Rights Clinic. This past summer, he received a Rapoport Center summer fellowship to intern with Human Rights Law Network, India’s largest human rights organization, where he contributed to HRLN’s litigation work on issues pertaining to mental health, labor rights, food security, and women’s justice.
Vanshika Vij received a BA in public policy from the University of Michigan in 2009, where she was active with social justice organizations. After graduation, Vanshika worked at the Center for Effective Philanthropy, helping foundations and nonprofits improve their grant-making process, and at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, where she worked on immigration, detention, and public health law cases. This past summer, Vanshika was awarded the Baron & Budd Summer Public Interest Fellowship to serve as a law clerk at the Texas Civil Rights Project, where she participated in a trial regarding the Texas Public Information Act and engaged with a variety of cases related to freedom of speech, due process, and disability rights. In addition to being a Human Rights Scholar, Vanshika is on the board of Street Law and is a member of both the Texas Journal of Women and the Law and the Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Meredith Weaver received a BA in international relations from Brown University. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer working with nongovernmental organizations in Uganda to facilitate leadership skills and professional development among young people affected by extended conflict and internal displacement. Her interests include human rights offenses among displaced populations as well as human rights documentation procedures. As a first-year law student, she worked with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Rural Outreach Initiative in Goliad, engaging with the community in order to assess local need for legal services in specialized areas. This past summer, Meredith was a law clerk at Disability Rights Texas, a nonprofit agency, where she worked on legal issues including education, healthcare, voting rights, and juvenile justice.
The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas School of Law serves as a focal point for critical, interdisciplinary analysis and practice of human rights and social justice.