Esmeralda Herrera ’14 won a Humanity in Action fellowship to promote human rights.
Esmeralda Herrera ’14 won a Humanity in Action fellowship to promote human rights.

Linguistics Grad Wins Humanities Award

By Randall S. Barton | March 12, 2015

Esmeralda "Momo" Herrera ’14 has been awarded a Humanity in Action fellowship—one of 43 U.S. students to be selected from a pool of 688 applicants at 253 colleges and universities.

Esmeralda is a first-generation American, born and raised in South Bronx, New York, who graduated from Reed with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and a strong command of the Chinese language. Currently living in Portland, she works as a student support specialist helping at-risk youths explore successful life options. In her spare time, Esmeralda conducts HIV testing at Cascade Aids, a nonprofit clinic that supports people living with HIV.

“As global citizens we all need to commit not simply to learning about the injustices of this world but being brave enough to stand against them,” Herrera says. “We need to be patient enough to listen and sincere enough to know when we are wrong. As a Latina, first-generation American from the South Bronx, I have to be ready to teach, to listen, and most importantly to love—to help not just those similar to myself but to everyone who demands and needs help.”

An international educational organization headquartered in New York City, Humanity in Action selects fellows based on academic standing, active participation in human rights issues, and recommendations. The fellowship highlights different models of action to remedy injustice relating to diverse societies, featuring lectures and discussions with renowned academics, journalists, politicians, and activists, as well as site visits to government agencies, nonprofit and community organizations, museums, and memorials.

The American fellows will participate in an orientation workshop May 25–28 in Washington, D.C., that focuses on American civil rights, Holocaust education and European security and political issues. Sessions will also be devoted to building careers in the field of foreign affairs.

“This dialogue is then pushed into action, requiring fellows to complete a project in their community within one year,” Herrera explains. “I am excited to explore social and political roots of discrimination, but most of all I am excited to bring back all that I’ve learned to my community.”

Fellows from the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, and Ukraine will convene at the Sixth Annual Humanity in Action International Conference in The Hague in June 25–28, exploring that city’s unique promotion of international peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Since its founding in 1997 by Dr. Judith Goldstein, Humanity in Action has engaged more than 1,500 fellows in its transatlantic study programs that focus on past and present human rights and minority issues. The organization believes that an important test of genuine democracy is how a country treats its minorities, and that protection of minorities should not be taken for granted in the United States and Europe.

Tags: Alumni, Service, Awards & Achievements