Student Highlight

Dominique Cagliuso
Monday, November 7, 2022
In which program are you enrolled and when is your expected graduation date?
M.A. Human Rights Studies; Fall 2023
What is your research focus? What drew you to this particular issue or set of issues?
Most of my research has centered around xenophobia as a use of political rhetoric. While studying abroad at the University of Cambridge, I wrote my dissertation on the use of the Syrian refugee crisis as rhetoric for British politicians to use for their pro-Brexit agendas. My undergraduate thesis at Marymount Manhattan College, “Age of the Alt-Right”, researched the impact of new-age media on Trump’s election/presidency as well as the rise of the alt-right. I was drawn to researching these topics because I found myself shocked that so few people were discussing the topics and truly delving into the deeper meaning behind these political situations.
Which class would you recommend to other students interested in the same issues as you?
International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in War
Where did you grow up? In which countries or cities have you lived?
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Went to college in NYC and briefly lived in Italy and England during college.
What is a must-read for a human rights student?
Universal Human Rights (in theory and practice), Jack Donnelly
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 am currently working as the Social Media Manager for both HRGG and RightsViews. This has been an amazing experience so far and I am excited to continue growing my skills while also helping the groups flourish.
What has been your favorite moment in the program so far?
My favorite moment in the program thus far has been attending my favorite course, International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in War. The professor is great at dissecting the very dense readings and the classroom discussions are always very enlightening.
What has been the most challenging part of the program?
The most challenging part of the program thus far has been picking which classes to take. There are so many options I wish I could take all of them!
What are your goals (professional or academic) after graduation? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My ultimate goal is to one day work at The Hague.
What is your favorite spot to study (or spend time) on campus?
I love studying at the Grad Student Center in Philosophy Hall. Best iced soy lattes ever!
What is one thing that your peers would never guess about you or might find surprising?
I am classically trained in music and went to a performing arts high school for voice and piano. Think Victorious but more rigor.
What is your hometown/area famous for?
Pittsburgh is famous for having 446 bridges - more than any other city in the entire world, including Venice, Italy!
If you were to start a book club, which book would be first on your list? Why?
The Great Gatsby. This is one of my favorite books of all time and I love the discussions that can take part after reading it. The book has very nuanced themes that everyone interprets differently which makes for great conversation. It also provides such an interesting, elaborate, and descriptive look into New York in the 20s which is very fun for history nerds living in New York City.
Anything else you wish to share about yourself or your experience in the program or Columbia so far?
I was pleasantly surprised with how accepting and open everyone is. You can have great discussions with anyone in different programs, be welcome to attend events at other schools, study at virtually any library you would like, etc. This makes the University feel like a true community which is rare for large schools, especially in cities.