Testimonials From Our Fellows
Serving as a law fellow with the Center for Security, Race and Rights (CSRR) has been an integral experience in my time at Rutgers Law School. With the guidance of Professor Sahar Aziz, I have refined important skills, including legal research and writing on topics related to the impact of law and policy on Muslim communities, project management through the De-Securitizing Muslim Identity lecture series, and advocacy with the center’s Know Your Rights workshops. At the same time, I have bridged my law school experience to my background and prior studies in international affairs and, in particular, my research on migrants from Central Asian states to Russia. Not only have I been able to explore issues of law and religion related to this past research, but I have gained an understanding of them beyond that context, including here in the United States. The fellowship has given me the opportunity to develop strong skills and critical approaches that I will draw upon throughout my legal career.
— Sarah Calderone, Law Fellow 2021-2022
My time as a law fellow at the Center for Security, Race and Rights has been the most meaningful experience of my law school career. I have grown as a scholar, professional, and advocate through my yearlong fellowship. The academic component of the fellowship has challenged me to think critically and produce high-quality work products. My legal research and analytical skills have improved drastically, and I feel confident that I can tackle any challenge presented to me as I begin my legal career. Professionally, CSRR has been instrumental to my growth— from Professor (and CSRR Director) Aziz’s one-to-one mentorship to the close relationships with other fellows. I gained more than just a professional experience, but also a network of hard-working, brilliant people. And finally, the advocacy component exposed me to a world (quite literally as CSRR has global reach) of interested organizers, community members, and students who are eager to make a change and help CSRR fulfill its mission statement. It has been a great honor and privilege to contribute to this important work.
— Pati Candelario, Law Fellow 2020-2021
I had the privilege of serving as a law fellow for the Rutgers Center for Security, Race & Rights under the supervision of the Center’s founding Director and Professor of Law, Sahar F. Aziz. Through this opportunity, I perfected my legal research and writing skills, improved my understanding of how the criminal justice system functions, and learned to work on a professional team with colleagues. By working on the Center’s first public policy report, I spent countless hours researching and writing memorandum on areas of the law unknown to me. Through this research, I gained an invaluable understanding of how the criminal justice system has changed post-9/11. Finally – and possibly the most important – I worked on a team of lawyers, professors, faculty, undergraduates, and fellow law students from across the United States. Each individual added a unique component to our team’s success. Indeed, the team during my fellowship made me a better young professional. In short, serving as a law fellow for the Center for Security, Race & Rights will forever be one of the best decisions I made during my law school career.
— Joseph M. Carr, Law Fellow 2019-2020
My name is Werdeh, I am a 2L Rutgers Law School and a Legal Fellow at CSRR. I joined CSRR for the same reason that I decided to go to law school: I want to dedicate my future to protecting, representing, and empowering my community. As a Palestinian American, especially, I wanted to find a way to contribute in meaningful ways to the movement for Palestine during my time at law school. Through CSRR I am able to receive training to, in turn, educate, and therefore empower, my community through Know Your Rights presentations and research projects. Last semester, I did thorough legal and statistical research on a prevalent issue occurring on college campuses across the states: namely, the silencing of activism for Palestine on campuses. I worked to compile helpful information that would protect students from frivolous executions of the law and discriminatory disciplinary actions used against students showing solidarity with Palestine. I have also been able to do extensive research on the pervasiveness of discrimination against Muslims in America in areas like employment, housing, education, and more. In this way, CSRR helped train me in essential legal skills like research, writing, and professional communication that will make me a stronger lawyer and advocate. Currently, I am working with other fellows of CSRR to uncover more information on how Fusion Centers and JTTFs in New Jersey unlawfully surveil the Muslim community and violate our First Amendment rights. These types of projects have the benefit of holding the government accountable for violations of our rights. I have also gotten the opportunity to speak with community leaders, and brainstorm ways to better serve the Muslim community. These meetings and projects operate to serve and educate the community, as well as prepare Muslim students like me to enter the legal field ready to make a difference for our communities.
— Werdeh Hassan, Law Fellow 2021-2022
— Dina Mansour, Law Fellow 2020-2021
As a Law Fellow at the Center for Security, Race and Rights (CSRR), my experience has been transformative, shaping my intellectual growth, skills development, and understanding of social justice in profound ways. The fellowship has provided me with a unique platform to engage in research, education, and advocacy on the critical issues faced by America’s diverse Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. Intellectually, the fellowship has expanded my horizons by delving into the complex intersection of race and religion in the United States. Through rigorous research and interdisciplinary approaches, I have gained a deeper understanding of the historical context and contemporary challenges that these communities face. The fellowship has encouraged me to critically analyze and question the structures of power that perpetuate discrimination and marginalization. It has fostered intellectual curiosity, enabling me to explore the nuanced dynamics of race, religion, and identity. Skills development has been a central aspect of my fellowship experience. Working alongside a diverse and talented team at CSRR has sharpened my research, analytical, and communication skills. I have honed my ability to conduct comprehensive research, analyze legal and policy frameworks, and present findings in a compelling and accessible manner. Collaborating with individuals from different backgrounds has enriched my perspective and enhanced my ability to engage in meaningful dialogue and bridge divides. Most importantly, the fellowship has deepened my understanding of social justice and its importance in creating a more equitable society. Through CSRR’s advocacy initiatives, I have witnessed firsthand the power of collective action and the potential for positive change. The fellowship has instilled in me a strong commitment to challenging discriminatory practices and advocating for the civil and human rights of marginalized communities. Overall, the CSRR fellowship has been a transformative experience that has shaped my intellectual growth, skills development, and understanding of social justice. It has equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and passion necessary to contribute meaningfully to the fight against injustice and inequality. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of an organization that is dedicated to making a lasting impact and building a more inclusive society.
— Ryan Houser, Law Fellow 2022-2023
As a curious kid having grown up in a rather conservative South Asian Muslim community where discourse around anything related to law or legal matters was met with frigidness and discomfort, if not outright fear, I was naturally drawn to this area even moreso- I often asked myself, why? Over the ensuing years, I learnt more about the blatant targeting that the Muslim, South Asian, and Arab communities faced at the hands of various policies enacted by our own Federal Government- alongside this, my desire to building a bridge between my own community and the legal profession only grew. And so when I came across the trailblazing work being done by Professor Aziz, and the Center for Security, Race and Rights (CSRR), as an extension, I immediately reached out wanting to get involved, leading me to attain a Fellowship position with the team. This past year has been a truly remarkable one; directly observing and receiving mentorship from Professor Sahar Aziz has contributed significantly to my growth not only as a student and a professional, but also as an individual one day hoping to fight the systemic injustices faced by our communities. From conducting research on how to connect with, and reach the communities we are trying to serve, to working alongside the wonderful team at the Center and picking up general tasks that came about- it has been nothing short of a pleasure seeing our efforts come to fruition when we see how many people are coming across our material, attending our events, and the overall pertinent impact that the CSRR has had in the Legal and Public Policy fields. As my year as a Public Policy Fellow comes to an end, I want to thank the team of bright and dedicated individuals I worked alongside with, as well as Professor Aziz for the opportunity, her mentorship, and the integral, unrelenting work she has been doing, and that I am sure she will continue to do.
— Sameer Ali, Public Policy Fellow 2020-2021
Participating in a fellowship with the Center for Security, Race, and Rights was a life-changing experience. This fellowship, under the direction of Professor Aziz, provided me with practical experience in public policy through research, education, and activism. Being mentored by Professor Aziz was immensely beneficial because her leadership pushed and stretched me into new realms, where I acquired information that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was able to grow in areas outside of my own experiences. I became aware of the effect of racism on people of other races not only in America but all over the world. As a result, I am better equipped to become a globally active and motivated citizen who works for others. I am now confident that I want to be a global human rights activist representing the wider society of the world. The experience gained from participating in the anti-racism and religious freedom lecture series at CSRR allowed me to widen my perspective on religious-based persecution and discrimination — especially against oppressed people — and that is something I want to change. I was provided with new interests, acquaintances, and contacts, as well as a long-standing relationship with CSRR. I consider myself fortunate to have served with a welcoming faculty and to have evolved in the company of like-minded fellows.
— LaToya Britton, Public Policy Fellow 2019-2020
My time as a CSRR fellow has taught me exceedingly about race and rights, not only in the United States but internationally as well. One of my favorite parts of being a Public Policy fellow was keeping up with the current events going on around the world. My responsibility was to make others continuously aware of these current events through social media. So not only was I always in the loop, I was constantly keeping others informed as well. My goal in being a part of this fellowship was to inform others about Muslims and the Arab and South Asian world, and I am glad I was able to achieve it. My work ethic and time management have strengthened since I first began my work for the center. I am grateful to have gained the experience in working in a professional setting, side-by-side, with Professor Aziz and the hardworking fellows of this center to ensure the success and recognition of the Center for Security, Race, and Rights. Most importantly, being a part of this fellowship has strongly affirmed my future endeavors in the professional field I plan to pursue in law. It was an honor being part of such a wonderful and persevering group of people that work together to educate and enlighten others on important issues and topics regarding security, race, and rights.
— Serene Hozien, Public Policy Fellow 2020-2021
My time as a Public Policy Fellow for the Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights has been absolutely rewarding in professional growth and experience. Through this fellowship, I had the opportunity to connect with so many knowledgeable individuals, specifically Professor Sahar Aziz and her extremely talented team. I had the opportunity to work on projects such as “We Are Here: Muslims Voices and Experiences” and raise awareness about current global issues within the realms of security, race, and rights. My experience at the Center for Security, Race, and Rights has improved my research skills, teamwork skills, and project development skills. It was an honor to be a part of an organization that actively works to raise awareness and provoke discussions about issues faced by the South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. I would like to thank Professor Sahar Aziz for her mentorship and the opportunity to work under her and with her team. Overall, working with the Center for Security, Race, and Rights has been an extremely enriching experience.
— Ramsha Syed, Public Policy Fellow 2020-2021