The Engines of Idealism by Nadine Fiedler

Elizabeth C. Ducey summer internships help students turn values into actions

Monica Serrano, a Reed senior majoring in political science, has read a lot about war and peace. As a native of Guatemala City, Guatemala, these are more than concepts to her: she’s seen her country suffer in war and wanted to do something to help her country return to peace. When she heard about Reed’s Ducey summer internships, she decided to act on her ideals. She returned to Guatemala this past summer to participate in the exhumation of mass graves of the victims of political execution with the Fundación de Antropólogos Forenses de Guatemala, a group of forensic anthropologists dedicated to exhuming the victims of genocide.

It’s unbearably disturbing for most of us to think about digging up the dead, but Serrano, a deeply focused woman, kept her perspective by keeping herself constantly aware of the outcome of this grisly labor: the relief of the Mayan Indians who had lost family members. Serrano was not afraid of death: she had previously worked caring for patients in nursing homes and as an interpreter at Oregon Health Sciences University, but she had never witnessed such horrors as these murders.

Serrano’s path to her internship was one of hard work, talent, and luck. A transfer student, she never really planned to attend Reed College. She emigrated to California at age 13 with her mother. They eventually moved to the Portland area, where Serrano graduated from high school and went on to attend Portland Community College. She had the good fortune to take a writing class from Reed alumna Lynn Mayer ’58, who recognized Serrano’s potential.

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by Nadine
Fiedler ’89

Reed Magazine Feb 2001