Ali fights for human rights

Alumna’s experience at Roanoke gave her a voice and a purpose

Adiyah Ali '02 works in a job she never imagined she could. Ali's passion is human rights, but until she was a student at Roanoke, she never thought she would actually get a job in her field. The international relations major is a field organizer for Amnesty International's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta.

"The professors at Roanoke are awesome," says Ali. "They prepared me for my work because they gave me a world view."

As a student, Ali got involved early on with the College's Amnesty International chapter, then spent a semester in Washington, D.C., where she says she received a "super" introduction to the field in the organization's busy D.C. office. She also was able to spend time abroad in Kenya, Turkey and Egypt while a student at Roanoke. Those experiences all reinforced her desire to work in human rights.

Since graduating from Roanoke, Ali has worked in both the D.C. and Atlanta offices for Amnesty and earned a master's degree in public policy from Pepperdine University. She calls herself a "liaison" for student and community groups that are engaged in human rights issues and Amnesty International staff, who are working towards ensuring that every person enjoys all human rights. Ali particularly enjoys giving presentations to groups as part of her current position, but inspired by her professors at Roanoke, she also hopes to one day pursue a Ph.D. and teach the human rights framework at the college level.

"Roanoke gave me my voice," Ali says. "Coming from high school to college, I learned that you can have opinions that are different from those of your professors, and it's OK. It's important to have an opinion and be able to defend it. I see it every day. Roanoke gave me that experience."

Ali is grateful for her time in the classroom but is quick to point out that her involvement in the Amnesty International student organization is what put her on the path to where she is today. In addition, she says the relationships she developed at Roanoke have been invaluable. Her best girlfriends are friends from Roanoke, and even though they live all around the country now, they still make it a point to get together at least once a year. Ali credits their alma mater for "setting the foundation for a lifetime of activism by providing a stellar atmosphere, top quality professors and on-going opportunities for leadership and growth."

Released: October 9, 2008