Alumna Erica Rodgers
From learning about human rights violations as a student at Delphian to campaigning to change the world through human rights advocacy and Declaration of Human Rights education, alumna Erica Rodgers has brought about real change to her environment and the world. “You have to at least try,” Erica explains. “You get to choose how much responsibility you take for your environment.”
Erica’s interest in the government began during her current events seminar when she was a student at Delphian. She was researching human trafficking for an assignment and was shocked to find out how big of a problem it is, not just in the world but in her local community.
Even as a high school student, standing by and not doing anything was never Erica’s style. “We had a Youth For Human Rights International chapter at Delphian,” says Erica, “but it wasn’t very active at the time.” The Youth For Human Rights International (YFHRI) organization’s purpose is to teach youth about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.
Erica speaking on International Day of Peace.
Erica and fellow human rights advocates marching to raise awareness about human rights
"I just had to stand my ground and
have a voice. Just because you are young
doesn't mean you can't succeed."
Erica in New York representing
Youth for Human Rights.
Realizing that the majority of victims of human rights violations were lacking knowledge of the Declaration of Human Rights, Erica decided to take responsibility for making a positive change and became an active member and eventually the president of the YFHRI chapter at the Delphian School. She led the charge on a library campaign in 2012 to purchase posters and educational booklets to pass out and put in over forty local schools and public libraries.
In addition to the library campaign, the YFHRI club began a campaign within the student body at Delphian so each student would know their human rights. The YFHRI club also began delivering seminars to local schools, clubs and community groups such as the Rotary Club and the Lions Club. As of 2019, the same YFHRI Delphian chapter now includes over fifty active student members regularly participating in local and international campaigns to educate the world on their human rights.
After graduating in 2014, Erica didn’t stop her efforts to promote human rights. Just a year after graduation from Delphian, Erica was selected to represent the United States at the International Human Rights Youth Assembly at the United Nations office in Brussels, Belgium. “It was really intense and a cool experience learning how other youth my age were advocating for human rights,” says Erica. “The issues we were fighting were similar,” she continued. “The lack of education on the Declaration of Human Rights is a worldwide problem.”
After this assembly as a nineteen-year-old, Erica moved to Washington, D.C. and became the National Director for the Youth For Human Rights International organization. “My Delphian education gave me a broad understanding of the world from the world history courses, a vast knowledge of different cultures through the literature program and a strong understanding of what is happening in the world through current events seminars,” said Erica. “I can walk into a room and communicate with all sorts of elected officials and have an understanding of the issues they are facing because of my Delphian education.”
Constantly being underestimated became an everyday occurrence as Erica was usually the youngest advocate in the room. “Getting people to take me seriously was interesting,” she explained. “I just had to stand my ground and have a voice. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.”
For the last five years Erica has been the lead organizer for the annual National Human Rights conference. “The first year I organized the conference I was approached by an attendee looking for the person in charge. I said, ‘That’s me.’ He was in total disbelief no matter how many times I repeated myself. Eventually I had to find an older associate of mine to confirm that yes, I was the person in charge.”
When not planning the logistics of major human rights awareness events, Erica spends her time lobbying for bills that will help protect and raise awareness of the Declaration of Human Rights. This past January while the United States government was in the middle of a shutdown, Erica and her team managed to get a bill passed that will make it mandatory for all TSA agents to be trained in recognizing and taking action against human trafficking.
During the lobbying process, Erica was able to take several Delphian students along with her to the Capitol where they met with senators, representatives and other elected officials. “Knowing how to communicate from the public speaking and communication courses and having the strong moral compass from the ethics and integrity courses I studied at Delphian really help me in my lobbying efforts. I can stand on my own. I’m not easily swayed on issues I believe in, which is a valuable skill and quality to have on the Hill.”
“A lot of what I do is just try. You’re not going to know everything but you have to at least try. Think on your feet, and use the public speaking, management, leadership, ethics and communication skills you study at Delphian. I do every day. Then be responsible for the outcome.” This mindset has led Erica to where she is now and we are all excited to see more big changes as she continues her efforts to take responsibility for and to improve our world.
London Whitworth mixing lentils and carrots together.
Avery Ott, Liv Curry & Nora Larsson weighing and bagging soup mix
2018 World Educational Tour attendees including Erica and several Delphian students at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC.