Lauren Hull, a Central Michigan University honors student from Bay City, Michigan, has received the Humanity in Action Fellowship. She is CMU's second student in recent years to receive this award.
Hull came to Central knowing that she wanted to cultivate her two passions: activism and social justice.
"I fell in love with what a democracy is supposed to be, and I'm committed to try to make it that," said Hull.
The Humanity in Action Fellowship is a critical professional development opportunity for Hull, who was specifically selected for the Warsaw Fellowship where 22 recipients typically travel to Warsaw, Poland, to learn about Polish history and government. Due to COVID-19, the program will be offered in a virtual format this year.
Hull said she is excited to bring what she learns back to CMU's campus. She is one of only 22 recipients from the United States.
All recipients of the award must complete an action project in their communities within a year of the fellowship. For her project, Hull hopes to increase access to voting for neurodiverse individuals by creating a set of guidelines to help judges classify if an individual has the mental capacity to vote. Currently in Michigan, the decision of whether a neurodiverse individual has the capacity to vote is left for judges to arbitrarily decide using knowledge-based tests or requiring individuals to provide a valid reason for voting – beyond simply liking a candidate, standards that are beyond those required of neurotypical individuals to vote.
"Neurodiversity rights are huge for me because I come from a family of seven kids – four of whom are on the autism spectrum. This issue is very important to me," Hull said.
Why the Humanity in Action Fellowship?
After meeting with CMU's associate director of the National Scholarship Program Maureen Harke, Hull researched the Humanity in Action Fellowship and decided to apply.
"Maureen has been instrumental in sorting out my goals and motivations as well as aligning that to my most authentic self," said Hull.
Hull attributes her win to her parents, political science professor Kyla Stepp and Harke.
"CMU students want to be change agents," said Harke. "They want to make a difference. Lauren has really impressed me with her seriousness and commitment to serving others and her strong desire to bring about positive change for the greater good."
The Humanity in Action Fellowship is offered in six different countries to 135 international participants. The goal of the fellowship is to bring participants together to explore issues of democracy, human rights, and social justice to advance change in the participants' own communities.
This story was written by University Communications intern Eva Steepe.