Our Students

Finding ways to learn about people and promote human rights

Sarah O’Donald is learning about human interaction and advocating for human rights through opportunities in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.

A passionate human rights activist, Sarah finds that majoring in Human Development and Family Studies gives her the knowledge base she needs to better understand people and further her career. Learning about behaviors, families, therapy, and what people need—physically, emotionally, and mentally—is especially relevant to human rights, she says.

Sarah has been very impressed with the faculty and staff in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, especially the department’s advisers. “They truly care about students, and they have so much knowledge of what students can do with a degree,” she says.

“It’s a great college, and a great department. Most people don’t realize how expansive the programs are,” says Sarah. “And, although it’s a large college, they make it feel small, like a family.”

For her required HDFS internship, Sarah spent a semester working with Amnesty International, where she focused on immigration rights and the death penalty, and developed a proposal for a study to analyze the cost of the death penalty. She also attended conferences with other human rights agencies and reached out to the community through letter-writing and phoning in to radio talk shows to speak about human rights.

Service work is also a major part of Sarah’s life. As a member of the Kappa Omicron Nu, an honor society for students in the College of Health and Human Development, Sarah has the opportunity to make a difference in the community through service work. 

Sarah is one also one of the founding members of Knitivism, a human rights activist organization that knits in public as a form of peaceful protest. Through this club, Sarah not only brings her message to the public in a way that catches peoples’ attention (knitting in public), but the garments knitted by the club are donated to local organizations, such as the Centre County Women’s Resource Center.
 “It’s nice to know that it is possible to make a difference,” says Sarah.

Sarah graduated during the 2009-10 academic year. Learn more about current students in the College of Health and Human Development.