We spoke with 2 alumni working in advocacy and organization. Here is what they said.
Each year, in its Beginning edition, the Daily highlights a handful of outstanding graduates: what they studied, how they impacted campus, and how they hope to change the world.
Recently, the Daily met with two of its interviewees in 2018: one, a Fletcher student studying human security and technology politics, and the other, a political organizer in Arizona who worked for the 2020 presidential campaign. by Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Amanda Borquaye (LA’18) is a second year master’s candidate in the Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy program at the Fletcher School. She studies human displacement and how different border surveillance technologies affect migrant communities crossing the border.
Borquaye accidentally stumbled upon the technological aspect of international relations. After graduating from Tufts in 2018, she lived in Washington, DC, where she worked as a paralegal at a civil rights law firm. The company has looked at numerous cases related to how automated technology – for example, in loan applications – can harm minority communities. She said she left the law firm “familiar with the harms of technology on vulnerable people” and was delighted to apply her knowledge to the world of international relations.
The Daily first interview with Borquaye alongside former student Margo Bender (LA’18) in 2018 regarding the couple’s work with the Tufts University Prison Initiative (TUPIT), a program at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life that allows students to take courses with people incarcerated in an institutional correctional center in Concord, Mass. Borquaye and Bender both advocated for educational reform in prison during their time at Tufts. In 2021, Borquaye described how advocating for prison rights remains an important aspect of his work today.
“Advocacy for prisons will always be something that excites me, especially in terms of thinking about how incarceration is an act of violence against people and against communities,” Borquaye said.
She said her work with TUPIT helped inform her current studies at Fletcher. In fact, she even works with some of the same people now that she worked with during her undergraduate studies.
Borquaye also reflected on how the experience at Tisch College shaped his vision for community work.
“[The emphasis] responding to the needs of a community, rather than imposing what you think a community might need, has been extremely useful as a practice point on how to engage in social justice and advocacy ” , Borquaye said.
Likewise, assessing community needs and advocacy, Lorenza Ramírez (LA’18) works for the Arizona Democratic Party, running ballot campaigns to elect top-down Democrats in Arizona for the election. from 2022.
In everyday life ramirez profile in 2018, the then graduate described her aspirations to launch a career in political organization and advocacy, leaving her ambitions in the field quite open. After graduating from Tufts, Ramírez held many roles helping the Warren campaign. Ramírez started out as a student intern and rose through the ranks to become a regional organizer in Iowa during Warren’s presidential campaign.
“I learned so much… not just about campaigns and management… but being at the epicenter of the presidential primary was really exciting,” Ramírez said.
After Warren’s campaign, Ramírez turned to the general election, hoping to use his passion for organizing to boost voter turnout in critical states. After deliberating on his options, Ramírez turned his attention to Arizona.
“I wanted to go to a state where I felt like I could use my skills more,” she said. Ramírez grew up in Mexico and is bilingual. “I loved working in Arizona, especially after living in Iowa for a year… being in such a diverse state was really exciting for me.”
In Arizona, Ramírez served as the organization’s deputy director, where she led the nation’s largest Latinx and Spanish organizing and volunteering program.
When asked to reflect on her experiences, Ramírez described how deeply she values empowerment through action.
“The reason I like organizing and managing people in the organization… is that I think it’s so achievable,” Ramírez said. “It’s so good every day that you can take any ounce of anxiety or stress and just channel it to talk to voters… and do something about it.”
She also reflected on her undergraduate experience at Tufts and, in particular, how former associate professor of political science Natalie Masuoka encouraged her to explore political advocacy. With Masuoka’s mentorship, Ramírez wrote his main thesis on how political campaigns interact with Latinx voters.
The Arizona Democratic Party has a Spanish program and a Spanish program director, Ramírez noted, so she often finds that she is able to relate her thesis to her current work.
Ramírez has already pledged to serve as the Organizing Director of the Coordinated Campaign in 2022. She underscored her appreciation for the freedom and agency she had in her role and how high hopes she had for the next campaign.
“We are creating this roadmap [and] build this from scratch, ”she said. “I’m not very interested in doing things the way they always have been before. … I think it’s very stimulating early on in your career to have so much agency and so much ability to be creative and try new things.