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Robert Harris'08

Bobby Harris'08Name: Robert "Bobby" Harris

Class: 2008

Current Employer: Project Coordinator, Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester, MA

Human rights work after graduation: Christianson Fellowship to work with the Peruvian Ministry of Health, Partners In Health and a state-run primary care clinic on multiple communicable disease prevention projects in underserved communities in Peru.  AmeriCorps Member, working at Codman Square Health Center, a community health center in Dorchester, MA. Currently the coordinator for Codman’s Patient-Centered Medical Home Project, working with high-risk, chronically-ill patients to prevent emergency room visits.

How he became interested in human rights work: 2008 Weissberg Chair Jan Egeland spurred an interest in disaster relief by emphasizing the importance of cultural experiences rather than doing specific projects.  This led to a summer in India, where Bobby observed that continual primary care in disaster areas is just as important as emergency care.  “You don’t hear about diabetes medications being delivered to refugees in Haiti after the earthquake. “

Key moments at Beloit:  Having advisors push to help build an academic foundation to be able to come to terms with extreme poverty and suffering.   “The student has to be accountable to pursue the independent research and projects to dig into these topics.”  Also, 2007 Weissberg Chair, Richard Goldstone made challenging comments that forced Bobby to re-examine his prior notions of justice.

Advice for Students:  Work on your own opinions.  Try to understand what you are feeling and what your values are.  When that’s in your mind, go and be somewhere.  You don’t have to go international.  You have to put yourself in an environment that is uncomfortable. 

Find an area where you can be of use, where there’s a need and you can fulfill that need.

Take advantage of the experience when you get back.  Use every experience to build off of and project yourself into another place.

Have a strong sense of humility.   You’re trying to figure out how you as an American are interacting with people on the ground.  You’re going to be wrong, and you should recognize that.  You’re going to be right sometimes, and it doesn’t always mean you are smart.