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Headshot of graduate student Danielle Million in the Master of Human Rights program

Danielle Milln is one of the graduating Master of Human Rights students in the Class of 2022.

Second cohort of Master of Human Rights program graduates

Unique interdisciplinary program provides solid foundation, practical skills in human rights advocacy

June 22, 2022 — 

The Faculty of Law proudly congratulates the Master of Human Rights graduating class of 2022. Celebrating the conclusion of their program at a gala event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on June 10th, the twelve members of the second cohort of graduates from this unique interdisciplinary program said farewell to Robson Hall and set off to pursue careers in human rights advocacy.

MHR students choose to complete either a thesis or a practicum with a major research project. The thesis stream takes from 16 to 24 months to complete, and the practicum stream can take 16 months full-time, including at least three months of practicum. The program started in 2019 and is housed at the Faculty of Law, with collaboration from the Faculties of Arts, Education and Social Work.

We asked a number of these incredible students to share their experiences taking this degree, which is partly taught by program director Dr. Kjell Anderson, and Dr. Laura Reimer, Professional Development and Practicum Coordinator. Here are their stories.

Dennis Asebi Boakye Atuahene

Dennis is a law student from Ghana who did his practicum with the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties, and completed his major project on “Law and sexuality: A comparative analysis of legal treatment of queer people in Canada and Ghana – the quest for human rights justice for queer minorities in Ghana.” His advisor was Dr. Donn Short (Law).

Q: What drew you to the Master of Human Rights program?

A: After my degree in Law, I was looking for a program that would help me advance my quest for a free and safe society through advocacy, activism, campaigning, research, policy, education and law for intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, governments, and social enterprises. A program that would help me advance my quest for human rights justice and equality among minorities in my home country Ghana. A friend who had done his undergraduate studies at the University of Manitoba told me about the New Master of Human Rights program at the University of Manitoba. I read about the course and the only thing I said after my research was GOTCHA!!!!

Q: What was your path to get to the MHR program?

 A: My path to the MHR program was definitely not a smooth one. At least coming from my part of Africa, the challenges are many. I first had my first degree in Political Science with English at the University of Ghana in 2014. And then had my degree in Law in 2019 and then entered the Ghana School of Law the same year I had admission to the MHR program. Indeed, it was close to impossible to do the two jealous courses at the same time. Well, I think COVID served me better than everyone (lol). The courses moved to virtual and I was able to do the first year of both courses at the comfort of my home. Well, this period was indeed the most stressful period of my life but WE DID IT!!!.

Q: What was your favourite class and why?

 A: My favorite MHR class was with Dr. [Laura] Reimer where we did an advocacy simulation. It was a course where we had to choose a problem and solve it through advocacy. I think that course utilized my advocacy skills [more] than I ever imagined.

Q: What was your favourite MHR memory?

A: My favorite MHR memory had to do with my time at the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties [MARL]. I designed and presented workshop material on the ‘Rights of the Youth at the Workplace’. It was virtual and I was also in Ghana and had never been to Canada before. The kind of work I put in, learning about so many things including the rights and laws youth at the workplace. My supervisor Sandra Krahn was amazing. I think all MHR students should have a feel of MARL before graduation.

Q: What do you wish you knew before your first day of the MHR?

A: Before my first day, I didn’t know the course would be more engaging, demanding and yet exciting. It requires students to be more practical and real without compromising on quality. You just cannot be lazy.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a new MHR student or applicant?

A: Well, comrade, if you really want to shape your beliefs, ideals, legacy and hope with regards to human rights and mirror same to the world, then relax and learn: YOU ARE IN SAFE HANDS.

 

Danielle Milln

Danielle completed the thesis stream with her thesis title: “Not the limit of our imagination: Exploring student advocacy discourses in support of universal higher education.” Her advisor was Dr. Bruno De Oliveira Jayme (Education).

Q: What drew you to the MHR program?

A: I was drawn to the MHR as the only human rights-focused Master’s program in the country. My undergraduate studies left me with a passion for human rights, and I was eager to marry my interests of social justice, human rights, and education through the interdisciplinary MHR.

Q: What was your path to get to the MHR program?

 A: I have attended six post-secondary institutions, including the University of Manitoba, to get to where I am now! I did an Office Administration Certificate from Nova Scotia Community College (2012), my Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) from Simon Fraser University (2016) and was looking for a program that would allow me to explore multiple topics with a human rights lens. I have worked in universities/colleges for 10 years throughout all of my studies and full time in between my degrees, and my professional experience showed me how post-secondary education can be inequitable and I was eager to explore that through a human rights lens.

Q: What was your favourite class and why?

A: I loved SOC 7160 with Dr. [Annette] Desmarais because it opened my mind to different ways social change can occur, and gave me the tools to write my thesis on the Canadian Federation of Students as a social movement organization. I was lucky to have great electives all around, with life-changing knowledge gained in PEAC7050 with Dr. Senehi and EDUA7040 with Dr. [Cameron] Hausemann.

Q: What was your favourite MHR memory?

A: Building relationships with my cohort is one of the best experiences I have had through the MHR program, and my favorite memories are of sitting in the student lounge learning about everyone’s experiences and passions. It was such an inspiring group of people who taught me a ton about different human rights issues, and I made lifelong friendships that I will always cherish. 

Q: What do you wish you knew before your first day of the MHR?

A: That you can and should explore everything that you are curious about! I thought I had to have it all figured out before I began, and felt like I might not belong in the MHR because I am not focused on a classic human rights topic like genocide or international issues, but each and every person contributes something unique to the cohort and being able to explore your passions from a human rights perspective is incredibly rewarding.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a new MHR student or applicant?

A: Besides taking the time to get to know and lean on your cohort for support, I would say that the amount of information and opportunities can be overwhelming beginning graduate school, so lean into whatever makes you most excited and don’t be afraid to flex and adjust your plans as you learn more and grow throughout your journey. It will all work out exactly as it is meant to!

 

Marylyn Afenyo

Marylyn came to the MHR program from Ghana with a background in social work. She completed her practicum with the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties (MARL) with her major research paper on “Exploring the idea of human rights education workshops through the Ghanaian school curriculum.” Her advisor was Dr. Adam Muller (Arts).

Q: What drew you to the MHR program?

A: I have always been interested in developing a career in human rights and so I was excited when I found the University of Manitoba started offering the Master of Human Rights program.

Q: What was your path to get to the MHR program?

A: I applied as an international student from Ghana with a bachelor’s degree in social work interested in the thesis stream. I eventually changed to practicum when my interests aligned more with hands-on experience in human rights education.

Q: What was your favourite class and why?

A: I particularly enjoyed Dr. [Jessica] Senehi’s class, ‘Young People Affected by Violence’ from Peace and ConflictStudies. she always made her students feel at home and even though we had a lot of assignments, she made sure they were fun to do. 

Q: What do you wish you knew before your first day of the MHR?

A: I wish I knew more about the practicum stream and possible placement areas much earlier. 

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a new MHR student or applicant?

A: If you are interested in developing a strong academic foundation in human rights, I strongly recommend the MHR program. Both the practicum and thesis streams are great, so take enough time to explore these options before you decide.

Information about the University of Manitoba’s Master of Human Rights program can be found on the Faculty of Law website.

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