Social Justice Research Fellow, First Peoples Worldwide, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Master of Human Rights
She is passionate about improving the human rights of indigenous and marginalised communities, says Master of Human Rights alumna Briana Nezbah Edmo who is of Navajo, Blackfeet and Shoshone-Bannock ancestry and came to AUT as an international student from the US.
“I had a bit of a lightbulb moment at AUT when I was completing an assessment where we had to practise submitting a recommendation to the United Nations on behalf of a marginalised group. Throughout the research process, it became very apparent that the social and economic challenges that Māori face are very similar to the challenges we as Native Americans are facing.
“I think this realisation really reinvigorated my passion for indigenous human rights as well as providing me with safe place to draft a recommendation for the United Nations. I hope to one day create my own non-profit organisation that specialises in international indigenous human rights.”
Right now though, she enjoys applying what she learned during her time at AUT in her role as a social justice research fellow at First Peoples Worldwide in Albuquerque, an organisation that partners with industry groups and indigenous communities to further align business practices with the rights of indigenous peoples.
Feeling heard and appreciated
Studying alongside likeminded people was one of the highlights of Briana’s studies.
“What I enjoyed most about studying at AUT were the smaller classes, and being able to connect with likeminded individuals who share the same passion for human rights as I do. I feel that I received a more personalised learning experience, and my voice and opinions were heard and appreciated.”
She would highly recommend the Master of Human Rights to other students.
“I would definitely recommend this programme. I came to AUT to get a more in-depth understanding of human rights in a global context, and I feel this programme equipped me with tools and knowledge I will need in the future.”
Advice for other students
Briana has some great advice for other students.
“If you feel like giving up or feeling a little lost, remember why you started. For me, the reason I pursued this degree is to help indigenous communities. I gave up time with my family and spent countless hours reading and writing but I always reminded myself that this degree isn’t just for me; it’s for others I can help in the future with the knowledge I gained.”
Briana knows what she is talking about. As an international student alone in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic, she faced a few challenges herself.
“I had to adjust to a new lifestyle, new grading system and programme style while also building a new support system in New Zealand, all during a global health pandemic. AUT is vastly different from Haskell Indian Nations University, the small tribal university I attended for my undergraduate degree. The support and advice I received from AUT’s Student Hub and my lecturers helped me tremendously with navigating through the adjustment process.”