Marvelous Maeze shares her experience as a student in the Human Rights Studies M.A. Program so far.
In which program are you enrolled and when is your expected graduation date?
MA in Human Rights Studies, Fall 2022
What is your research focus in the HRSMA program?
My research is on terrorist organizations in West Africa and the effects of their operations on women and adolescent girls. My work is primarily focused on counterterrorism, transitional justice, and women’s rights. I am most interested in understanding the modus operandi of non-state terror groups in my native Nigeria. My research seeks to explore “justice” from the perspectives of women and girls. I hope that my findings will help to elucidate any means by which existing International Human Rights Law may be improved to safeguard the rights of survivors and victims of gender-based violence in terrorist organizations.
Which class would you recommend to other students interested in the same issues as you?
I would recommend “International Humanitarian Law & Human Rights in Wars” with Professor Horst Fischer.
Where did you grow up? In which countries and/or cities have you lived?
I was born in Nigeria and raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. I have also lived in Los Angeles, and I currently live in New York City.
What is a must-read for a human rights student?
I would recommend The Art of Human Rights: Commingling Art, Human Rights and the Law in Africa by Romola Adeola, et al. I would also recommend The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law by Amal Clooney and Philippa Webb. This second piece is based on factual accounts of litigation in the human rights world rather than theory, but Mrs. Clooney is such an inspiration of mine that I must recommend it.
Can you describe any volunteer or extracurricular activities that you have been a part of during your time at Columbia and how this experience has impacted you?
I have been fortunate to take part in many of Columbia’s extraordinary clubs and organizations that focus on advancing diversity and inclusion on campus. I have most enjoyed my time serving as the Social Liaison for the Human Rights Graduate Group. It was an honor collaborating with my peers on special events and projects intended to enhance the academic and social experiences of our cohort.
What has been your favorite moment in the program so far?
In my role as Social Liaison, I worked with my colleagues to present the Inaugural Women’s Month Event, which was co-sponsored by Columbia University’s Human Rights Graduate Group and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. My favorite moment was moderating this inaugural event and discussing human rights with an esteemed panel of inspiring women from organizations like UN Women, USAID, and the U.S. Department of State.
What has been the most challenging part of the program?
I feel as though this is a given but... time management! Planning in advance is the key to success, kids!
What are your goals (professional or academic) after graduation? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In the future, I see myself as hopefully being a happy person who is continuing to work diligently towards safeguarding human rights for everyone across the globe. Thus far, my next step is pursuing a JD. The rest is still unwritten.
What is your favorite spot to study or spend time on campus?
My favorite study spot is Butler Library! I love the architecture, and I always purchase some iced coffee and cookies in the cafe before hitting the books.
What is one thing that your peers would never guess about you or might find surprising?
I speak Igbo and French.
What is your hometown/area famous for?
My hometown is known for the Dallas Cowboys.
If you were to start a bookclub, which book would be first on your list? Why?
I have been reading quite a bit of Cli-Fi recently so Green Earth (The Science in the Capital Trilogy) by Kim Stanley Robinson would be first on my list. I think that reading about climate change in the form of fictionalized narratives helps to bridge the gap between academia and entertainment, ultimately providing an easily accessible medium for more people to engage in the environmental conversation.
Anything else you wish to share about yourself or your experience in the program/Columbia so far?
I have truly enjoyed my time in the HRSMA program at Columbia. My professors and cohort have been phenomenal. I am so grateful to walk away from this journey with so many new mentors and friends.