Before her first year at the University of Richmond, Sarah Frazer, ’07, spent four months at the Center for Linguistic and Multicultural Studies at Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The trip began as a way for her to connect with her family’s heritage. It ended up inspiring a course of study and Frazer’s future career path.

“Two months into my stay, the United States invaded Iraq,” Frazer said. “Resentment toward U.S. national security policies was growing, and I was constantly challenged on my country’s foreign policy choices.”

Returning to the United States and beginning her first year at Richmond, Frazer recognized the need to explore a different perspective regarding the United States’ role in the world. She declared her major in international studies and dove immediately into advanced courses in political science and Latin American anthropology.

The summer after her first year at Richmond, Frazer took an experiential learning course on poverty and development in Honduras. Again, Frazer was challenged on the foreign policy choices of the United States — this time by an independent radio journalist who wanted to know what she and her peers proposed to do to educate their fellow Americans.

The experience solidified Frazer’s interest in exploring careers in development and social justice.

During her second year, Frazer connected with peers interested in worldwide issues through the University’s internationally themed Living Learning community, Global House. She also worked with a friend on campus to jump-start a Latino student alliance designed to better connect and create community for the University’s growing Latino population.

Study abroad experiences in Mexico and Brazil during her junior year allowed Frazer to deepen her focus on culture, development and social movements. She also spent a month conducting independent field research with a group of women farmers who were organizing community initiatives for gender equality and sustainable development in rural Northeast Brazil.

Fueled by these experiences, Frazer returned to campus eager to share what she had learned. While professors were supportive of her academic work, Frazer wanted to do more.

“I was looking for a way to expose my peers to the issues I’d seen surrounding the developing world,” she said.

By connecting with student leaders in the University’s student chapter of Americans for Informed Democracy (AIDemocracy), Frazer was able to secure a mini-grant from the organization’s home office. They provided her with the support she needed to plan a panel discussion about the links between U.S. trade policy and poverty. A subsequent event focused on the role financial institutions play in low- and middle-income countries.

Fast forward three years, and Frazer is now on the other side, helping college students take action on global development issues, including poverty, hunger, disaster relief and women’s empowerment.

In her position as the global development campaign coordinator for AIDemocracy, Frazer is responsible for communicating major debates within the fields of global development and U.S. foreign policy in language that is relevant and activating to a student audience. She also provides strategic support to student-led advocacy efforts throughout the country.

“I wanted to give back to the network that had supported me as a student,” Frazer said. “Students are exposed to so many issues of social and economic inequality during their college years, via classes, service learning trips or studying abroad. I get to help them act on their passion for global equality and justice.”