Via International Human Rights Clinic

Today at Class Day, we had the great honor of watching our colleague Gabriela Gonzalez Follett rise before the Class of 2016 and accept the Suzanne Richardson Staff Appreciation Award. It was a beautiful sight to see, second only to the sound of her voice as she gave a speech that moved many in the audience to tears.

The Suzanne Richardson Staff Award is given each year to a member of the staff who demonstrates commitment to the student experience and concern for students’ lives and work at the Law School. The Class of 2016 selected Gabriela (Gabbie) as the recipient of this year’s award for her work “around the clock to make sure that students are having an optimally enriching educational experience at HLS.”

We’ll bring you the video of Gabbie’s speech on Friday, but wanted to leave you with her powerful words for now. Thank you, Gabbie, on behalf of the Human Rights Program, for making our world stronger, kinder, and infusing it with hope.

Full text of Gabbie’s speech below:

“Imagine: Imagine a small notebook, about the size of your hand. Now imagine yourself clenching the book, the edges frayed from your sweaty palms. You sit in a crowded train, close your eyes, and try to memorize the words scribbled in that small notebook that you clench. They are your code. The third language you are learning. Erudite, pedagogy, macrocosm, amend- if you memorize words like these, no one will find out you are an other. If you study how other people say them, these words will protect you from being perceived as irrelevant, not worthy, like you don’t belong.

Cariña, (sweetheart), you tell yourself, calmate, (breathe). And you take comfort in the sweet melody of Eryka Badu ringing in your ears.

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