Shaw Drake ’10 Draws on Degree in Latin American Studies to Work for Human Rights for Migrants

Shaw Drake

Shaw Drake ’10 is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Human Rights First in New York City and frequent contributor to publications such as The New York Times, Huffington Post and JURIST. A double major in Latin American studies and Romance languages at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Georgetown University Law Center graduate, Drake has wide-ranging experience in the field of human rights.

Drake has conducted legal research on surveillance of human rights lawyers in Colombia; studied judicial independence in Guatemala; served as a Military Commission observer in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; supported survivors of torture from over 90 countries seeking legal, psychological and medical services at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture; and conducted an extensive fact-finding project regarding stateless children’s access to education in the Dominican Republic.

Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Drake first became interested in migration after working with refugee families on a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico. When he came to UNC, Drake found the Latin American studies major was a good fit for his interests.

During his junior year, Drake worked with No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization recommended to him by Latino Migration Project director Hannah Gill. Drake was so impacted by the experience that upon returning, he changed the topic of his honors thesis to U.S. border enforcement strategy and human rights on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Drake observed that being an Latin American studies major allows students to look at a dynamic part of the world from historical, political and human rights perspectives, and teaches students ways to critically examine future challenges.

“[The major] gives you the latitude to pursue interests and encourages you to take on a wide variety of disciplines,” Drake said. “Take it on and view it as an opportunity to examine a dynamic and amazing part of our world.”

About the Latin American Studies Major

The bachelors in Latin American studies (LTAM), offered by the Curriculum in Latin American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, is designed to foster intellectual engagement with a region of extraordinary diversity and rich cultural complexity within an interdisciplinary, but integrated, framework.

LTAM provides students with the opportunity to master multiple methodological skills and acquire the language competence needed to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the Latin American and Caribbean experience. LTAM alumni have gotten jobs with the U.S. State Department, in a number of different Latin American countries, with transnational companies that operate in the U.S. and Latin America, and in non-profit organizations that work with migrants in the U.S.