Humanitarian Studies Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Aliarys Rodriguez Mirabal, FCRH ’23
by: Emily Furfaro
Aliarys Rodriguez Mirabal, FCRH ’23, is a double major in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Alyaris moved to the Bronx when she was two years old and has lived there ever since. She is involved in the Saving Mothers Club and the Pre-Law Society at Fordham.
Her favorite class so far has been African Economics and Humanitarianism with Professor Nana Osei-Opare. “We talked extensively about Africa’s economic market and how misunderstood and misrepresented it is. This class helped me understand [the continent of] Africa from a business and humanitarian point of view.” She is looking forward to taking a class called The Development of Human Rights Law, and has recently applied to Fordham’s accelerated masters program in Humanitarian Studies with a concentration on Human Rights.
Before declaring a Humanitarian Studies major, Aliarys was a Biology major on a pre-med track. “However, after working with the University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP) for a semester, I saw how people in my own community struggle to access certain services they need.” Here, she witnessed some of the difficulties people face when trying to access resources to meet their basic needs. “The main reason why a lot of people do not have easy access to apply for such programs is because there is a language barrier.” She eventually developed an interest in how people are affected by various humanitarian crises.
“My current research focuses on gender-based violence against women and girls in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. I have noticed how susceptible women and girls are to experiencing some form of GBV (gender-based violence) and how it can affect them when they don’t have access to the right services. I focus on how successful GBV screening has been in Dadaab and what impact it has on reducing medical and mental health consequences that are associated with experiencing GBV.”
In the future, Aliarys wants to become a human rights lawyer. “Coming from a family of immigrants who had to migrate from the Dominican Republic as a result of economic and political instability, it has become my ultimate goal to help other migrants and refugees who have been deprived of their human rights.” Being a first-generation university student motivates her, she says. “I want to be able to have a stable job where I love what I’m doing and am making a difference in people’s lives.”