Ciara Bennese Takes on the Fight for Human Rights

Courtesy: Ciara Bennese

Name: Ciara J. Bennese

Year: Junior

Major(s): International Affairs and Political Science

Age: 21

Hometown: Indian Shores, Fla.

 

Her Campus (HC): What clubs and/or organizations are you currently in?

Ciara Bennese (CB): I’m the Philanthropy Chair of Delta Nu Zeta (a local service sorority), the Public Relations Officer of Amnesty International FSU and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

HC: It’s really interesting that you're part of Amnesty International. Can you explain a little more about the organization?

CB: Yeah! Amnesty International is a human rights organization that works by creating grassroots change all over the world through advocacy, lobbying and awareness campaigns. The FSU chapter takes a lot of the campaigns and topics from the U.S. national group and tries to implement them on the local level. We've worked with state representatives to speak out against discrimination, participated in many of the recent protests and we hold weekly meetings where we talk about different human rights issues.

Courtesy: Ciara Bennese

 

HC: That's amazing! Especially with the recent Muslim ban and other issues going on, I feel like it's needed more than ever. Is there anything specific that you guys are trying to achieve right now?

CB: When the ban was first put into place, we immediately began spreading the word for students impacted by it to contact us. Since then, we've helped the FSU student stranded abroad to get pro-bono legal help from our RSO (Recognized Student Organization) advisor, Terence Coonan, as well as spread awareness about his situation. Even with the ban temporarily lifted, he is unable to get a return visa, so we are ready to support him financially if he needs it. Besides that, we are currently planning our annual Human Rights Conference that will be the first weekend of April.

HC: It’s so sad that he’s still unable to get back to the states.

CB: As of right now, yes. It's really sad because he was just about to finish his doctoral degree, plus his fiancé is here.

HC: What will the Human Rights Conference consist of?

CB: The conference is going to be two days consisting of different workshops on human rights topics, with a focus on the different career paths within the sphere of human rights. We’re still in the initial planning phase, but we’re hoping to have a documentary screening, opportunities for individuals to talk directly to their state representatives and an allotted time for participants to get involved in different student and community organizations.

Courtesy: Ciara Bennese

 

HC: I also saw that you’re interning with a senator this semester! Congrats! Tell me a little bit about that.

CB: Thanks! I'm currently interning with Senator Rouson of District 19 (St. Petersburg) in the Florida Senate. I've worked in the state legislature before, so right now my main job is policy and topic research. Recently, I've been looking at the suggestions and testimonies of doctors to amend the current legislative draft of the Medical Marijuana bill since proposition 2 (to expand the use of Medical Marijuana) passed in the last election cycle. I've also been assigned research and keeping track of the Open Carry and Campus Carry bills, which would let registered gun owners to carry weapons in educational institutions, hospitals, etc.

HC: Would you like a career in politics in the future? What are your plans?

CB: I'm not entirely sure what my plans are just yet, but I do know that I want to eventually have a career as a Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat) with the U.S. State Department; that's kind of a long-term goal and I’ll probably end up working for Amnesty International or another non-governmental organization while I work towards my Master’s degree.

HC: For those who are interested in getting involved with Amnesty International, how can they do so?

CB: It's super easy to get involved, especially since we don't collect dues or require membership in Amnesty USA. We hold meetings almost every Thursday at 7 p.m. and everyone is welcome! We have a Facebook page, Amnesty International at FSU, where we post about events we're hosting/participating in, volunteer opportunities and all thedetails of upcoming meetings.

FSU’s Amnesty International trip to the Southeastern Regional Conference of the national Amnesty organization in November.

Courtesy: Ciara Bennese