Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Academics: Leadership studies major, French and business administration minor
Internship: Tahirih Justice Center, Falls Church, Va.
On-campus activities: Assistant French teacher; co-captain of club volleyball team; new member educator, Tri-Delta Sorority

Emily Prior, '11, knew she wanted to be involved with human rights at a nonprofit organization after spending a semester studying abroad in Senegal. This summer she had the opportunity to do just that for her required Jepson internship.

Thanks in part to a Robert L. Burrus Jr. fellowship, which supports leadership students who are working in unpaid positions in nonprofit, government, or education organizations in the U.S. or abroad, she was able to intern with Tahirih Justice Center, an organization in Falls Church, Va., that supports the rights of immigrant women and girls fleeing violence in their homelands.

“I looked at Tahirih’s website and was struck by the heartbreaking stories of the women they help,” said Prior. “Many are confronted with issues of marriage rights, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and domestic violence. Tahirih takes the lead in seeking justice for women who deserve it but have not received it.”

At Tahirih, Prior says she “could positively impact a marginalized group of society. And I could entertain the possibility of a future policy, law, social service, fieldwork, or development career.”

Her work with the public policy department allowed her to get involved with all aspects of the organization, including legal services, public policy advocacy, and development and education. She was able to attend hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill, write internal case summaries and reports on legislative, administrative, and judicial developments, and track coverage of certain issues in the media, among other duties. 

A leadership studies major and a French and business administration minor, Prior says her courses well prepared her for the work at Tahirih. “I was lucky enough to take Dr. Karen Zivi's Sex, Power, and Politics course and reflect on gender issues throughout the semester. From discourse debating the degradation of women to defining terms such as social norms, we were able to see the root of gender power imbalances.”

Prior says the fellowship allowed her to follow her passions and serve others without financial worries. “I was able to fully commit to the internship. Tahirih was just what I was looking for.

“The organization has allowed me to be okay with the idea of graduating and joining the real world. I'm a big believer in the whole 'love the work you do' mindset, and Tahirih showed me that this really might be possible.”