“My co-ops both in Cambodia and in the U.S. have allowed me to gain a better understanding of injustices and how systemic they are.” – Kristen Miller
International affairs senior Kristen Miller is the 2015 recipient of the Thomas E. McMahon Award. The Department of Cooperative Education and Career Development gives this award annually to one senior who has demonstrated exceptional integrity and character combined with a high degree of devotion and commitment to serving the needs of fellow human beings.
Kristen has embraced the spirit of giving back while also gaining substantial international affairs and research experience through the Northeastern co-op program. Experiential learning opportunities have provided her with the opportunities to empower young Cambodian women, report on humanitarian efforts, shape new policies for funding TB and HIV treatments, propose new girls and women outreach initiatives, and aid some of Southeast Asia’s most vulnerable populations.
“My co-ops both in Cambodia and in the U.S. have allowed me to gain a better understanding of injustices and how systemic they are and with this better understanding I have only become further committed to social justice and development work, in both my professional and personal life,” says Kristen.
In the spring of 2013, Kristen took a co-op position as a leadership resident for the Harpswell Foundation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. There she helped educate a new generation of women leaders through English and political sciences classes and residential programming. Concurrently Kristen conducted quantitative research to better understand perceptions of empowerment and the Foundation’s effectiveness. She brought this research back to campus where she analyzed her focus group and survey findings to write a research paper with the help of one of her professors.
During this time in Cambodia, Kristen also volunteered her time at the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) and interned at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Phnom Penh office, in the Stop TB department.
Kristen brought her previous work on women’s education and empowerment with her into her next co-op where she supported the Girls and Women Department at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York in the spring of 2014. Her primary project at CGI focused on ways for large companies to incorporate women into the global supply chain. The finished product was a memo that was distributed to Hillary Clinton and her team at the Clinton Foundation.
After the four-month co-op at CGI, Kristen had time to return to Cambodia and complete a fourth co-op at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At IOM she analyzed migration statistics compiled from field work on the Thai-Cambodian border and helped form a plan for what to do in the case of a future mass deportation emergency. Kristen also spent time on the border assisting returning migrants.
Kristen graduates this May with plans to apply to jobs and to take a GRE prep course at home in Maryland this summer.