From World Affairs to Worldwide Impact

Political science grads travel far

For many UNC Asheville graduates, Model United Nations and the World Affairs Club are just the start. They take what they’ve learned in the classroom and extracurriculars into careers around the world.

Sarah Mine ’06

Washington, D.C.; Kenya; Tanzania; England; Uganda; Nepal​

Sarah Mine '06This 2006 alumna, UNC Asheville World Affairs Club founder/president, and Model United Nations delegate has continued to take an interest in worldly affairs and tackle issues in human rights. Now the principal of market systems at Engaging Inquiry LLC, Sarah Mine works with clients focused on enhancing the ways that the poor and vulnerable interact with markets and their environment.

“I’m not sure I’d say I’ve ‘landed’ a career,” says Mine. “What I would say is that I am in a place where I have colleagues I enjoy, I have a chance to create something new and meaningful every day, and I’m getting more comfortable with uncertainty. It’s been a winding road.”

Having joined AmeriCorps in Asheville right after graduation—a great step in her path despite the small income—Mine focused on the experiences and life-changing relationships she was making. She met her husband during this time and after their wedding, the couple moved to Washington, D.C. where Mine worked for two years at an association of agricultural cooperatives.

With the support from many professors in the Political Science Department at UNCA, Mine applied to Yale where she earned her master’s degree in food security and international development. She secured a summer internship at an agriculture research center in Nairobi.

Since moving home, she’s found work performing field-level adoption surveys to leading a research project in East Africa, which led to her current job as of last year performing international consulting and analysis.

John Noor '07

Washington, D.C.; Chapel Hill, N.C.

John Noor '07Former 2006-07 Student Body President and a founder of the College Republican’s chapter at UNC Asheville, John Noor always had a passion for law and debates.

“My parents were small business owners, so I think it seemed natural for them to teach us about contracts and the law through the things we did at home,” he says. “I wasn’t certain I wanted to be a lawyer, however, until I met Professor Mark Gibney. He was amazing and loved to challenge the views of every student in the class.”

With the encouragement from Gibney, Noor pursued a semester-long internship in Washington, D.C. where he worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee on the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. This experience sealed the deal for Noor, who was accepted to UNC School of Law but deferred his admission a year so that he could work on education policy as a presidential intern for UNC System President Erskine Bowels.

Noor graduated UNC Law with honors in 2011 and began working with Roberts & Stevens in 2013, making partner this year. He also received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award from UNC Asheville.

“Every day I get up and think about why I became a lawyer,” says Noor. “And I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people. A lot of folks think human rights are limited to events going on in North Korea, Sudan, and China, but these rights impact the everyday living that goes on in each country around the world. Domestic violence, voting rights, and election integrity are all human rights that we have to fight for here in the United States.”

Dimah Gasim ’11

Doha, Qatar; Khartoum, Darfur; Blue Nile State, Sudan

Dimah Gasim '11A political science graduate who credits Dwight Mullen’s classes as a source of inspiration, Dimah Gasim now embraces her interest in human rights as communications specialist for the United Nations Environment Program, based in Khartoum, Sudan.

“I have many passions, but I feel strongly that making the world a better place requires long-term and proactive commitment,” says Gasim. “And that, ultimately, a world where natural resources are unprotected, with inequitable access, there will remain economic, social, and environmental injustice.”

Having moved to Doha, Qatar as a research assistant at Georgetown University’s overseas campus after graduating from UNC Asheville in 2011, Gasim then moved to Sudan and began teaching conversational English at a small college in addition to helping form a small environmental volunteer group. Due to her determination and ability to speak Arabic, Gasim soon took on short-term consultancies with NGOs such as the Sudanese Development Initiative and UN agencies like UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization and UNICEF.

With routine duties consisting of writing articles, producing films, preparing presentations, and managing social media on behalf of UN Environment, Gasim works for an office that has won the UN Environment Baobab Award for having such a tireless and dedicated staff. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification recognized one of their Darfur-based projects with The Land of Life global award.

“Many of my colleagues are institutions in and of themselves, so it’s been an honor to work with and learn from people who have long been devoted to environmental peace and sustainable livelihoods—especially my Sudanese colleagues,” says Gasim.

When Gasim is not advocating for the environment, or exploring the Middle East, North and East Africa, she is working to spread wellness to the Khartoum community at Blue Nile Lotus where she teaches yoga throughout the week.

Joseph Wilde-Ramsing '01

Ecuador; Spain; Netherlands; Argentina; Laos; Peru; Mali; Uganda; Cambodia; Costa Rica; Tanzania; Thailand; New Orleans, L.A.; Namibia

Joseph Wilde-Ramsing ’01Founding member of UNC Asheville’s Spanish theater group and political science major, 2001 alumnus Joseph Wilde-Ramsing began his career in human rights during his time at UNC Asheville.

“I would definitely say that my career development began at UNCA. For my undergraduate thesis, I conducted empirical research in Quito, Ecuador, examining political graffiti as an alternative form of political participation in a developing democracy,” says Wilde-Ramsing.

After graduating from UNCA, he interned at the U.S. embassy in Madrid during the months following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Once the internship ended, he spent a year traveling and working on organic farms in different parts of Spain. Wilde-Ramsing returned to the United States to complete a master’s degree in political science from Tulane University.

“I get to travel around the world doing research and speaking to communities and individuals whose human rights have been violated by companies, then assist those communities in raising their voice to claim and defend their rights.”

In 2004, Wilde-Ramsing followed his wife, UNCA alumna Birka Wicke, to the Netherlands, finding work with an Amsterdam-based, nonprofit, non-governmental research institute called the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) that investigates multinational corporations and the impact of their activities on people and the environment. While continuing his work at SOMO, in 2008 he began conducting doctoral research through the Centre for Studies in Technology and Sustainable Development at the University of Twente earning his Ph.D. in 2013 with a dissertation on sustainable development and corporate accountability in the global energy sector, based on fieldwork in Argentina, Peru, Mali, Uganda, Cambodia, and Laos.

“I have a passion for justice, but also for people and for cultures and cuisines of the world. My work at SOMO allows me to combine these passions perfectly,” he says. “I get to travel around the world doing research and speaking to communities and individuals whose human rights have been violated by companies, then assist those communities in raising their voice to claim and defend their rights."

Jeremie Smith '02

England; Switzerland

Jeremie Smith '02Having created his own major within the Political Science Department, University Honors student Jeremie Smith carved his own path in humanitarian and human rights law and policy.

"The multidisciplinary approach to education I received at UNCA has served me very well in a career that combines political science, law, media engagement, public policy analysis, and empirical research,” says Smith.

In 2006, Smith earned his LLM degree in United Nations Law and Law and Comparative Law of the Middle East from the University of London. Since then he has been a guest lecturer and expert consultant on the UN and international human rights policy towards the MENA (Middle East and North African) region in expert seminars and many universities around the world. He now serves as the director of the Geneva Office of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in Switzerland, where he leads a team of human rights lawyers and advocates who are engaged at the highest level of the UN, European Union, and the capitals of governments around the world to create, protect, and enforce laws and policies in human rights and humanitarian law.

"I basically consider my team as an international task force on human rights for the MENA region,” he says. “For instance, we recently engaged with governments around the world and at the UN to ensure an international investigation into war crimes in Yemen. It’s a very challenging job, but one that is never boring."

Brett Dodge '07

England; Ethiopia; Ghana; Kenya; Brazil; India; Greece; Tanzania

Brett Dodge '07As a member of the World Affairs Club and Amnesty International, Brett Dodge ‘07 was just beginning his endeavors in human rights. 

“It was a bit more of a stumble than a solid career landing to be honest,” says Dodge. “I had an interest in human rights and civic institutions from my studies and side research at UNCA. Unhelpfully though, there is no career track for this work and it is breathtakingly competitive. U.S. law school was one option, but it was expensive and risky. So, on the advice of Dr. Mark Gibney from the Political Science Department, I started looking at overseas master’s programs.”

Dodge attended the University of Essex in England where he received his LLM (Masters of Laws). Post graduation he spent a few months doing poorly-paid and even unpaid research tasks and postings in London. Despite the financial struggle and rough living situation, it was then that Dodge discovered that consultancy was a role that was good fit for the kind of work he wanted to seek. He currently lives in London and works as a consultant for Ergon Associates working to support initiatives to improve labor conditions.

As a consultant, Dodge performs desk and field research on labor and human rights conditions. The work has taken him to farms and factories in places such as Brazil, Ghana, Greece, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and Tanzania.

“If you want to work in human rights—especially business and human rights—it’s good to keep your ‘toolbox’ full,” he says. “Even though the world is telling us to specialize, it is a very valuable thing to bring a variety of perspectives into your work and many potential employers will recognize that. That said, if you really want to be an activist, lawyer, sociologist or what have you, do that.”

Tarrah Callahan '04

Tarrah Callahan '04Political science graduate, and former member of Alpha Xi Delta, Tarrah Callahan kept busy during her college years by dedicating her time to internships and working full time. Now her days are dedicated at Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform after founding the organization in 2016. 

“I’ve worked in criminal justice reform for nearly a decade, focusing mostly on advocacy related to abolishing death penalty,” says Callahan. “I initially became involved in that field because of an independent study that included advocacy, and joined Dr. Pamela Laughon’s investigation team’s efforts related to a case of a man on N.C.’s death row.”

Callahan volunteered with the Moratorium Coalition where she embraced her interest in political advocacy. After years of volunteering and a series of office jobs, Callahan applied to an open position at Moratorium. Due to her resume she fit the position perfectly and was hired. 

“I used to always tell people that the man whose case I was initially involved with who was exonerated from N.C.’s death row, Edward Chapman, got me into this work and Darryl Hunt kept me in.” 

Callahan worked closely with Hunt who was wrongly convicted of a rape and murder in Winston-Salem in the ’80s. After Hunt’s death in March 2016, Callahan lost a lot of her drive. Despite the sadness, Callahan used Hunt’s trial to inspire her to make many positive changes in society.

“My advice would be to never turn down an opportunity and never underestimate the power of tenacity—and a little touch of sass.”