The Master of Arts in Human Rights, developed by the Institute for Human Ecology (IHE), is designed for students who wish to study human rights from a distinctly Catholic perspective. It draws upon existing courses of several schools at The Catholic University of America. The interdisciplinary degree is awarded by the School of Arts and Sciences.
Afghani Barakzai is Corporate Recruiter at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. Prior to that, she held positions as Project Manager for Mobile Money Program and Senior Administrator at USAID, and Human Resource Manager at Asia Consultancy Group (ACG). She was also a Visiting Fellow in the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. Afghani holds degrees from Kabul University and Georgetown University, and certificates from Arizona State University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). She is completing the M.A. in Human Rights at Catholic University as a part-time student.
Bayor Chantal Ngoltoingar is a finance and marketing professional with an analytical and operationally oriented approach. She held a Bachelor of Arts, currently completing her Master. Before moving to the United States, she worked more than ten years as marketing and sales manager, then one year as branch manager at the United Bank for Africa. She is from Chad, mother of a seventeen-year-old boy. She is an author and advocate anti-FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). She published a book on (FGM) L’obscurité sous le Soleil in France, which offers a deeply personal lens on the practice and a series of recommendations about how to understand and counter it. She has founded Sunshine Girls, an NGO which works against FGM in sub-Saharan Africa and has testified about FGM in the U.S. Senate, United Nations Population Fund, The World Bank. She is collecting videos for her research project to quantify the impact of FGM on girls, families, and nations from child survivors, mothers, and traditional authorities in Chad. Bayor is passionate about ending violence against children and women. The English version of her book Darkness under the Sun is soon to be published.
Fr. Ambrose Ekeroku
Fr. Ambrose Uchenna Ekeroku, OCD is a Catholic Priest from Nigeria. He is a member of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. He worked for a decade as the Executive Director of Carmelites Prisoners’ Interest Organization (CAPIO) – a human rights not-for-profit organization of the Discalced Carmelites in Nigeria. His dedication to the work of CAPIO, and ensuring that the basic rights of those incarcerated are protected, consequently led to additional responsibility as the Catholic Chaplain of Maximum Security Prison in Enugu. His dedication to his vocation propelled him to excel and graduated with a double Major in Philosophy and Theology. He is respected for his outstanding, selfless and impactful contributions made as the Executive Director of CAPIO. Fr. Ambrose is intensely passionate about building societal peace through crime prevention interventions among youths. Today, Fr. Ambrose is a Priest, a Counsellor, a human rights Advocate, an Activist, a Public Speaker, a Confidant and a cherished Friend to the needy.
Ihab Hassan is a Palestinian Christian, having earned his BA in political science from Birzeit University. His scholarly journey has been further enriched by his selection as a distinguished scholar for the Ramy Ayyad scholarship, a program offered by the Philos Project. Beyond his academic pursuits, Ihab is a passionate peace activist, driven by a deep commitment to fostering understanding and harmony in the Middle East. Through his educational endeavors and peace advocacy, he aspires to illuminate the experiences and challenges faced by the Christian minority in the region, contributing valuably to the discourse on interfaith relations and cooperation. His ultimate aspiration is to actively engage the Christian community in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, seeking to bring their unique perspectives to the forefront of the conversation.
Boozhoo aaniin, Jair Peltier n’dizhnikaas, mukwa dodem niinda’aw. Mikinak wajiiw n’doonjibaa. Jair Peltier is from bear clan of the Anishinaabe people in the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa (North Dakota). He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, minoring in History and Anthropology. He was enrolled at the University of Southern California for a PhD program in Political Science and International Relations. Since 2019, he has received the Andrew Mellon graduate hours fellowship as well as the Cobell graduate scholarship. At USC, he was the graduate cultural ambassador to the Native American Pasifika Student Lounge and currently represents indigenous issues as a member of the Anti-Racism working group for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. He is an adjunct professor at Turtle Mountain Community College in his home community, teaching American government and politics through the lens of local indigenous history and worldviews. His main research focus is on Indigenous sovereignty and tribal constitutional development.
Khalil is a political analyst focusing on Middle East dynamics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Raised in Gaza, he later lived in Ramallah, Palestine, before moving to Washington, DC. Using his experience, he advocates for positive change and peace in the Middle East. He co-founded the Agora initiative to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East. He holds a Master’s in Comparative Politics from American University and a Bachelor’s in Biblical studies from Bethlehem Bible College; as a Master’s student of Human Rights at CUA, Khalil seeks to deepen his understanding of human rights and democracy.
Harry Scherer is a contributing editor at The American Conservative. His work has been featured in the Washington Examiner, Newsweek, The Lamp, and other publications. He received his B.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE), history, and Latin from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He originally hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Veronica Smaldone graduated from Catholic University with a B.A. in History in 2020. After completing a year of service through Americorps placed with Special Olympics Maryland, Veronica is looking forward to formalizing her favorite pastime of engaging in conversations about Catholic anthropology as a part-time student in the M.A. in Human Rights program.
Sarah Thomas is completing the M.A. in Human Rights as a part-time student, while working at a classical liberal philanthropic network. She is a graduate of Stanford University, where she majored in philosophy and religious studies and minored in data science. She also studied theology at the University of Oxford, and philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Sarah has presented conference papers at the University of Oxford, the University of Dallas, Saint Francis University, and the Eric Voegelin Society. She has held fellowships from Stanford University, the North American Paul Tillich Society, the Zephyr Institute, and the Thomistic Institute and Institute for Human Ecology. Sarah has interests in metaphysics, natural law, and the intersection of theology and classical liberalism. Long term, she hopes to pursue a research career that advances human dignity, rights, and the free society.
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