by Gerry Carolina Rivadeneira, 2015 Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellow
March 8, 2011. This was the day my activist self was born.
I remember it was a hot sunny day in the middle of Miami, Florida. I was standing on stage with a microphone in my hand and I told the crowd, “We are here for Women’s Rights! Women’s Rights here and worldwide!” The microphone became my tool for advocacy as I was standing there on top of the stage, rallying the participants before the 5k Walk 4 Women’s Rights began.
I felt so many emotions surging through my body as I rejoiced at the success of my first community awareness and fundraising event. These emotions came to life in front of my friends, teachers, and community partners. I had no idea one day I would be feeling these same emotions on stage standing next to the Kristof family as the 2015 Ladis Kristof Fellow. The Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship is awarded annually to a student activist for her or his outstanding efforts on behalf of human rights.
As an immigrant Latina, my experiences have shaped the values that call me to human rights activism. For my community, activism is a form of survival. I grew up with activism around me portrayed by the everyday resistance of the people in my immigrant community. But it was on March 8th of my junior year of high school that I was able to claim activism for myself.
Since that day, no one has been able to take the microphone of advocacy from my hand.
Amnesty International USA held its Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn, New York a few weeks ago. During the award luncheon on March 21, it was announced that Gerry Rivadeneira has been selected for the 2015 Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship. New York Times journalist, Nicholas Kristof and his daughter Caroline were on hand to make the announcement. In addition, Gerry gave a brief acceptance speech.
Gerry Carolina Rivadeneira was born in Ibarra, Ecuador, and migrated to Miami, Florida at the age of 7. She is a Posse Scholar and a junior at Mount Holyoke College, where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Law, Public Policy and Human Rights. She learned about Amnesty International in high school and joined the leadership team in 2012 as the Student Activist Coordinator for Western Massachusetts. In the past she has worked with “Strong Women, Strong Girls” to create cycles of mutual empowerment for women and girls, and with “The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts” to help advances social change philanthropy to create economic and social equality for women.
by Aquib Yacoob, 2014 Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellow
I am honored to have spent this past summer as Ladis Kirstof Fellow for Organizing and Activism. I was fortunate; I discovered the power of activism on my first day as a freshman back in high school – I was 14.
After joining my school’s Amnesty International chapter at a rally outside of the United Nations – as the saying goes – my flame was ignited. I discovered a new voice. I discovered a new community. I discovered my individual power, and the collective power we hold when we organize, when we mobilize.
I’ve been involved with Amnesty since that day, now some seven years ago. I’ve volunteered in-and-out of our national, regional and legislative offices in New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, respectively. I’ve participated in human rights conferences across the United States. I’ve met with some of the most inspirational human beings our world has to offer. All of this, as an Amnesty member.
The 2014 Ladis Kristof Fellowship allowed me to enter the world of human rights and social justice professionally. It took my engagement to the next level. My time spent working with and learning from Amnesty staff and member leaders has confirmed one thing: this is where I want to be; working towards a socially just world, working “in human rights” – this is my raison d’être, so to speak.
Submitted by Stacy Suh, 2012 AIUSA Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellow
On March 23, 2013, Mbaluka Mutinda was awarded the Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship for Organizing and Activism at the Amnesty International USA Annual General Meeting in Tyson’s Corner, VA. Since 2011, the Kristof Fellowship is awarded each year to an outstanding AIUSA activist, who will continue the legacy of Ladis Kristof through a lifelong passion for human rights and activism.
From left: Greg Kristof, Mbaluka “Luka” Mutinda, Stacy Suh (2012 Kristof fellow), Cynthia Carrion (AIUSA National Youth Program Coordinator)
Submitted by Stacy Suh, 2012 Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellow
It’s difficult for me to put into words what the Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship for Organizing and Activism has meant and will mean to me. I spent 6 weeks in New York and 2 weeks in DC to immerse myself completely in the world of human rights work and activism. I collaborated with inspirational activists and Amnesty staff, feeling very much at home despite the fact that I was thousands of miles away from Los Angeles. The Student Group Starter Kit that I created in collaboration with youth activists–created by youth for youth–has been mailed to registered Amnesty student groups last Friday. The Starter Kit will help student groups begin the school year with inspirational and meaningful human rights activism from the start of the school year. After the amazing 8 weeks as the Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellow, I am more certain than ever that human rights work will always be a central piece of my life.