When the graduation gowns are stored away, Carter Quinley, ’11, will take her degree from the University of Richmond and head back to her parent’s house. But she’s a far cry from unemployed — Quinley is heading home to Bangkok, where she has secured a job with the Thai Royal Police as a translator for the anti-human trafficking division.

Quinley grew up in Thailand, where her family has lived since she was two months old. Her father, John Quinley, B’79, started a microfinance company there. “He always wanted to use his business degree to help people,” she says.

With relatives in Virginia, Quinley narrowed in on Richmond when she started looking for colleges. “Richmond just sort of fit because it was so internationally focused, even back in 2007 — it’s even more internationally focused now than when I first came,” she says. “They were so strong on study abroad, and they had the major I wanted — I knew I wanted to do something where I could look at different cultures and international issues.”

Four years later, she is prepared to use her degree, a B.A. in international studies with a concentration in world politics and diplomacy, to address one of Thailand’s major issues.

Quinley explains that while Thailand isn’t among the world’s worst countries for human trafficking, it is a very serious problem there — the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report lists the Southeast Asian country on its Tier 2 Watch List. People are trafficked within Thailand, but also taken out of the country and brought there from elsewhere.

Because of the international nature of human trafficking, many of those involved — both victims and criminals — speak English, but not Thai, explains Quinley. She will be translating documents and face-to-face interviews with both groups.

“The anti-human trafficking division deals with a lot of the traffickers who are caught,” she says. “That’s the area that I think will be really intense, but I’m prepared to do it. I’m sure there’s some risk, but I’ll be working with the police.”

Quinley has a good handle on speaking Thai just from growing up there, and she has been able to practice with Thai students at Richmond. “I’m fluent in conversation, but not necessarily reading and writing yet, so I’m going to work on it over the summer,” she says.

Her studies at Richmond and work abroad have also given her significant insight into the conditions that lead to trafficking.

In one class for her major, Quinley studied how globalization exacerbates human trafficking; the increasing interconnectedness of different countries makes it easier for traffickers to move people across international borders. She further explored related issues in her senior thesis. “My entire thesis is on sex trafficking in Thailand,” she says. “It is focused on how poverty creates vulnerability, and in that vulnerability, women and men and children are susceptible to and [at risk for] being trafficked.”

Firsthand experiences with women in poverty have brought to life her studies. Prostitution was very visible to her growing up, but it wasn’t until the summer after her sophomore year that she directly worked with women fighting to stay out of the sex industry. Thanks to a Davis Projects for Peace grant, Quinley and Tran Doan, ’10, started a microfinance program that gives at-risk women an alternative way to earn an income by making purses.

“That was an amazing opportunity that really opened up the doors for this opportunity that I have now,” she says. “Just to have the experience working one-on-one with these women kind of opened up my eyes to the situation in Thailand. I’ve always been aware of it, but that was the first time I’ve been hands-on helping in some way.”

Quinley is excited to return to Bangkok to begin her career. “I call it the Asian New York City,” she says. “There’s everything to do, and there are people from all over the world. It’s beautiful. […] I’ve been so far away from [my parents] for four years, so I think moving back will be good.”