The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Graduated but Not Forgotten: Class of 2020 Farewell

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The 2019-2020 Managing Committee was so #blessed to celebrate our 15th STANDiversary year with these amazing soon-to-be graduates. From totally revamping our State Advocacy Lead programs, to standing up new Action Committees, to keeping our Conflict Updates concise and informative, these four prove that youth aren’t just the leaders of tomorrow – they are leading the atrocity prevention field TODAY! We are beyond proud and honored to know these ladies. Congratulations!

Grace Fernandes, Student Director, Simmons University

Dear Grace, I can never repay you for being my STAND sherpa and guiding me through this journey all year, every step of the way! You have taught me so much about STAND, Cape Cod, and appreciating one’s elected officials. You approach absolutely every issue placing human dignity first. You show up and show out for the most vulnerable – every single time. The world could use a lot more Grace, which is why I’m investing in the latest cloning technologies (not really, I’d clone my cat first). I’m so excited to see all the ways you will combine arts, humor, activism, and hair accessories in the future. Thank you for finding every Google doc ever created. Thank you for keeping it candid AND kind. Thank you for putting your whole heart and art into fundraising. Thank you for always putting the team first. Sincerely, truly, simply: thank you. – Laura Strawmyer, Program Director


23467232_10155980346817049_6019639685719165377_oI knew about you before you knew about me. You were described to me as incredibly creative, thoughtful, kind, and a great team player–all things that I am happy to report are true. My first real introduction to you was through your artwork. Grace: your art has impacts far beyond what you know. I have been so often inspired by how you weaponize your talents to fight ignorance, to spread knowledge, and to encourage empathy. You have always been a friend to us, making us laugh with your creative icebreakers and randomcchats posts, but first and foremost, you have served as a leader who has treated us with nothing but respect and warm professionalism that has inspired me and shaped how I hope to lead in the future. Your time at STAND precedes any of us here, your impact will live on for at least as many years. I cannot wait to see what you do in the future and I hope you will think of us at STAND as often as we will remember you. – Abby Edwards, Communications and Education


GRACE! You are a queen! Watching you lead our team with diligence and compassion has been a highlight of my year. Your passion is so evident in everything that you do and you complete every task with excellence. You spread kindness in every interaction and empower those around you to be the best version of themselves. One of my favorite things about you is the way that you live your life as an advocate, not only for big political ideas, but also for those around you. You use your voice in order to uplift the voices of others, making sure that everyone on the team is heard and valued. It is that uplifting of my voice and ideas that first made me feel welcome on the team. I remember feeling so out of place at the August retreat, I had never even been to DC before and I felt as though my accomplishments were so small compared to the rest of the team. You were intentional in making sure that I felt confident to share my thoughts and ideas, and asked intentional questions that let me know that you valued me as a person beyond what skills I could bring to the table. I am going to miss having you at STAND so much, but I am so excited to see you continue to be an advocate in your future career and know that any team would be truly blessed to have you! – Megan Rodgers, DRC Action Committee

Rujjares Hansapiromchok, George Washington University (MA)

Rujjares, you arIMG_0905e dangerously funny. Thank you so much for consistently bringing humor and compassion to the team this year! You always give everyone your full presence, even working on a team with younger members. We were so lucky to have your thoughtful leadership on the Sudan Action Committee this year. I was so impressed by how you put the members first and sought new and creative ways to keep them informed and engaged. Please reach out whenever you’re in DC. STAND will miss you so much, but we’ll be happy to see your megaphone-announcing, merch-wearing face on every marketing item for years to come. -Laura Strawmyer, Program Director


Rujjares, you are an incredible example of what hard work and dedication look like. I remember meeting you at the August retreat and the first thing that I noticed was your smile and your infectious laugh. You have an amazing personality and your sense of humor is unmatched. One of my favorite things about you is that after you finish speaking on MC calls, you always say “thank you!” Every time you say it I smile and I just love it! My favorite memory with you was getting to lobby with you in January at my senator’s office. Your passion and dedication to make the world a better place is truly inspiring. At every retreat and on every Zoom call your positive energy brought out the best in all of us. You have accomplished so much, not just with your involvement with STAND and amazing leadership of the Sudan action committee, but throughout everything you have done and continue to do. I will miss seeing and hearing your energy and drive on MC Calls. I feel so fortunate to have met you and will forever be thankful for the time we spent working together! – Claire Sarnowski, Fundraising and State Education


6“Hey girl!” I can still hear the way your voice rings in a melodic pitch whenever you greet me with this simple phrase over the phone and in-person–and I love you for that!! Thanks for always being such an upbeat and fun person to be around, Rujjares. Even though I’ve only technically known you for one year, I feel like I’ve known you for a long time already, and it’s just crazy to see how time has played out this way and passed so fast simultaneously. From sending me that funny video of ratchet girls baking chicken and distributing the deliverables to Congresspersons’ offices together after a long lobby day in the summer, to taking selfies together on a staircase before visiting Ted Lieu’s office together once again for our lobby day during winter retreat, I am so glad to have shared so many memories with you already within the span of one school year. I remember when I first met you in person at the summer MC retreat and began to get acquainted with your jokester self. I was in awe of how you were able to be so carefree, sitting in a room amongst people gathered to discuss the serious topic of genocide, but your straightforward personality and eagerness to learn about genocide atrocity prevention in discussions we had with guest speakers, later on, made it clear to me that you were in the MC for a perfect reason. I love how relatable and understanding you are and admire how you are able to strike a conversation with anyone so effortlessly! I remember how you would always tell me that you were nervous before walking into a lobby meeting, only to end up nailing it when we were inside the office speaking with a Congressional aide. From what I can recall from our last lobby day, you were able to, as always with your outgoing personality, open the conversation with friendly chatter before getting to the deep stuff, which put me at ease for how the rest of the meeting would turn out because you set the tone just right at the beginning. For that, I am so grateful as well, because I was also able to learn from you that lobby meetings don’t always have to be so serious! Thank you for your presence, and for all the support you have offered me in STAND (such as offering your attendance and help for any future events I would plan to host for GMU STAND). I will forever treasure the moments we have shared lobbying and working and talking over the phone together. I can’t wait to see where your brilliant self will go next with that genuine passion, practical sense, and intelligent mind of yours. As always, STAND will always be here for you, and I’m only one call away (and a thirty-minute drive from D.C. if you’ll still be here) too! I’ll miss seeing you at MC retreats girl, but am super excited for where you’ll end up next! – Jan Jan Maran, Burma Action Committee

Jordan Stevenson, Eastern Washington University

Image from iOS (28)Jordan! You are an inspiration to me and everyone you meet! I am so very impressed by all of your accomplishments and the many incredible things that you have done for STAND this year. I am so grateful for the skills and ideas that you have brought to the team and your tenacious work ethic that has allowed you to make those ideas a reality. But more than your skills and accomplishments, I am impressed by the woman you are! You are strong, kind, compassionate and resilient and you make those around you feel loved and valued. I have loved getting to chat with you at retreats and learn more about your family, your passions and your experiences. It truly is a blessing to know you and you make those around you feel safe by setting an example of vulnerability and acceptance. Your encouragement throughout this past year has meant the world to me! I am going to miss having you on the team so much, but I am excited to continue being your friend outside of STAND, come visit Arkansas soon! – Megan Rodgers, DRC Action Committee


Jordan!! You’ve worked so hard this year and have truly opened my eyes. I’ve felt so connected with you the moment we met at the August retreat because you are unapologetically yourself! You put effort into every single thing you do and we can tell the passion you have for advocacy. I’ve truly enjoyed talking to you about marriage (lol even though I’m not married) among a variety of other things. I’ve felt connected to you as a first-gen student and I am so sorry that you don’t get to graduate this year. But you should still be proud of yourself for being one of the first in your family to graduate college because it is not easy! You have touched many hearts at STAND, including the MC and SALs, and I know you’re destined for great things. If you are in DC, please please visit us at retreat! We will miss you a ton and thank you again for everything you’ve done for STAND. – Aisha Saleem, Outreach


Image from iOS (11)Jordan!! Hola mi amiga hispanohablante. I’m so happy to have a friend like you who I can practice Spanish with at random! Let me first start off by just saying that I absolutely admire the effort, dedication, and commitment that you give to STAND. I know that you’ve confessed before about being a workaholic by nature, but I feel like even despite that being used as an excuse to explain why you always go over-the-top in your work, your passion truly shines through in everything that you have done as manager of STAND’s State Advocacy Lead Program. I am always blown away by how you are able to get so much done not only for SAL, but for all of us MC members when bringing our attention to new policies and sign-on letters countless times. It makes me so glad to know that there are truly authentic people like you in the world who put people at the center of their work and treat others gently with kindness while going hardcore at work. I aspire to be like you in this regard especially, and look forward to seeing the ways that you continue to use this amazing trait of yours in future endeavors. Te voy a extrañar definitivamente, pero me alegra que estes pasando a cosas mejores mi hermana. We’ll keep in touch for sure! – Jan Jan Maran, Burma Action Committee

Megan Smith, University of Southern California

Image from iOS (4)When I first met you at the August retreat, I was immediately intimidated. You were the last one to go to bed, staying up late to work, and the first one out of bed, to go to the gym at 5 am. What? Who does that? Meg does. Absolutely incredible. You are so dedicated to your work that I knew from the beginning that I would have to run to keep up with you. In the end, we formed such a good partnership that it ended up being much more of a relay than a race. Over the past year, I have seen your passion, your work ethic, your drive: you do not stop until things are done and done well. Thank you for the dancing banana emojis, the cowboy hats, the life advice, and for having my back every step of the way. I know you’re nervous about the future, but all of STAND’s work is a testament to your potential. I believe in you, we believe in you, and can’t wait to watch you do incredible things. – Abby Edwards, Communications and Education


Meg, I still remember our first bonding calls where you showed me the Washington monument. I’m so sorry Barnard rejected you (their loss honestly), but I congratulate you for the amazing effort you’ve put at USC. I loved meeting you at retreat because I feel like anyone can easily get so close to you. I remember being so driven by your passion for YPS during retreat in August. It’s amazing that it has been introduced in the House now (time flies!). Thank you soo much for how much effort you’ve put into outreach and conflict updates – I truly appreciated having you as a partner to give edits and comments on things! You’re honestly a burst of joy and I wish you the best of luck for everything in the future. I can tell how much effort you put into things you’re passionate about and I can already tell that you’ll be doing amazing things in the future. Also, I’m glad we’re one of the few people who don’t watch Friends. Thank you once again for how much you’ve done for STAND and hope you stay your happy/bubbly self! Also I apologize for how choppy this is, a bunch of random emotions were coming to me as I wrote this. – Aisha Saleem, Outreach


Image from iOS (21)Meg!!! Getting to work with you has been one of the best things about my time on the MC this year. I remember meeting you when I first arrived at the retreat in August. I was a little nervous going into it and scared that I would feel out of place being the youngest out of our group. I will never forget your bright smile and welcoming spirit. When I think of you so many adjectives come to mind: strong, ambitious, sincere, kind- the list goes on. However, the trait that best describes you is passionate. Whether it was working on outreach, editing conflict updates, or commenting on docs, your passion for STAND shone through. Through getting to know you, I have seen your passion when you talk about your goals for the future and your hobbies. I know that no matter what your next adventure is, you will succeed in making the world a kinder and brighter place. My favorite memory with you was this January at the retreat when we sat at the same dinner table. I loved getting to talk with you in French and hearing about your experiences abroad. Your genuine personality and compassion towards everyone you meet is something that will forever inspire me. I will miss you more than I can explain- please stay in touch and if you are ever in Portland, hmu! – Claire Sarnowski, Fundraising and State Education

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