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WVU student seeks to make change through Humanity in Action Fellowship

With a passion for human rights at home and abroad, Lily Wright, a junior Honors student double-majoring in English and French at the West Virginia University Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized as a 2021 Humanity in Action Fellow.

Lily Wright in blue shirt and black blazer
Lily Wright

Wright, a first-generation college student from Bluefield, plans to pursue a career as an international human rights lawyer. While growing up in southern West Virginia, Wright was drawn to both international travel and global issues. She also saw the challenges her own community faced and wanted to act as a changemaker close to home.

To help bring these passions together, Wright sought out the Humanity in Action Fellowship, a year-long program that will provide her with the opportunity to connect to a global community of scholars and activists, while also making a difference in West Virginia.

This prestigious fellowship brings together emerging leaders and changemakers in the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland to learn about human rights in a place-based setting, from both a historical and present-day perspective situated in the programs found in each country. This year, Wright is one of 27 fellows from the United States to join the global cohort of 110 fellows. Due to COVID-19 the programs are being held virtually.

Wright will start her fellowship with an intensive month of communal learning before focusing her time on implementing her action project, an independent civic initiative focused on promoting democratic values in her own community in West Virginia and beyond.

Wright credits her experiences at WVU with her success. While at WVU, she has conducted research for three years through the Honors EXCEL and Research Apprenticeship programs, served as vice president and now president of the WVU Model United Nations team, served as Eberly College Student Ambassador, and currently has an internship through the Office of Global Affairs.

“There is no doubt in my mind that these experiences are excellent precursors to my Humanity in Action Fellowship,” Wright said.

Through the Honors EXCEL program, Wright is currently working on an oral history project documenting immigrant experiences in West Virginia. Inspired by their stories, Wright hopes to build upon this work for her action project for the fellowship.

“My hope is that this experience will allow me to apply important takeaways from my study of the Netherlands to my action project in West Virginia,” Wright said.

Humanity in Action is a transatlantic non-profit organization whose goal is to inspire responsible leadership that meets the local and global challenges of social division, addressing issues like antisemitism, racism, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQI discrimination, misogyny, and other forms of bigotry and hatred head-on from a historical perspective. The Humanity in Action Fellowship programs are highly interdisciplinary and feature daily lectures and discussions with renowned academics, journalists, politicians and activists, as well as site visits to non-profit and community organizations, museums and memorials.

Humanity in Action Fellows have used the knowledge gained in the programs and inspiration from one another to make a difference in public service, journalism, medicine, law, education, the arts, business and grassroots action.

Students who are interested in this scholarship or other nationally competitive awards can contact the ASPIRE Office at to set up an appointment.

Lily Wright was chosen as an Eberly Scholar in 2020-2021. Watch a video about her accomplishments.

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