Written by Kriti Varghese, Student Writer, Global Affairs
Myriah Smith ’16 is an advocate for human rights. As an international relations major in UC Davis’ College of Letters and Science, she chose the peace and security track because it resonated most with her passion for securing the rights of people affected by conflicts, political violence, and ethnically/religiously targeted discrimination. But Smith knew what she wanted to study long before she was a student at UC Davis.
“I grew up in a multiracial family, and my family's celebration of diversity sparked my interest in other cultures at an early age, which led me to study international relations," Smith said. "My family's experiences with discrimination and hardship also influenced this. One of my great grandmothers was a Holocaust survivor and my paternal grandfather grew up as a mixed Black-Indian in Guyana while it was still a British colony."
The more Smith became aware of her roots, the more she became aware of the discrimination and injustice prevalent in the world.
I felt deeply compelled to help others and made the decision to work toward a career that would allow me to fight for the rights and well-being of those suffering through conflicts, focusing on policy, politics, and international security.”
— Myriah Smith, '16 International Relations
One moment, in particular, affirmed this passion for Myriah. It was in her European History class when they covered World War II and the Holocaust. Learning about the atrocities of the Holocaust hit very close to home for Smith.
“It was especially unsettling to me, as my great grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. She was the only person in her family to survive, and only did so by hiding in the forest for years. Her story, combined with the story of millions of others that I learned about, resonated with me deeply. I saw my family and my heritage in the stories of others. As I continued through high school and into college, and continued taking classes that covered various conflicts with human rights abuses, I saw more connections and parallels between my family and heritage and the experiences of others, and I wanted to do something about it. So I decided to pursue a career in human rights,” Smith said.
About UC Davis Study Abroad
UC Davis Study Abroad integrates global opportunities into the academic experience, supporting 1,300 students each year in studying across 30 countries, exploring the world, and gaining valuable skills and competencies. In the quest for Global Education for All, Study Abroad goes beyond traditional programs to meet the academic, personal and professional needs of UC Davis’ diverse and driven student body.
As a part of Global Affairs at UC Davis, Study Abroad aims to inspire global curiosity, understanding, and engagement.