A Non-Stop Fight for Human Rights – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Non-Stop Fight for Human Rights

When classes came to an end last spring, senior Celeste Orton was just getting started. Continuing a spring ‘08 internship into a paid summer position, Orton worked with the Geneva Human Rights Commission (GHRC), helping the commission tackle tough issues as its human rights specialist.

As a commission, the GHRC has advocated in human rights objectives in the Geneva community throughout the past four decades. The Commission promotes mutual respect and understanding among all racial, religious and ethnic groups and has taken position on local issues involving public policy, the criminal justice system, police relations, fair housing and lending, equal opportunity and access, diversity, racial unrest and other community concerns.

“My work with the Commission includes interviewing complainants and making determinations of jurisdiction to decide whether a complaint is state or federal,” Orton said. “I also give a report to the commissioners at their monthly meeting, and closely assist Executive Director Karen Baer.”

Orton joins Baer and her GHRC staff with previous human rights experience gained during an internship at the New York State Division of Human Rights in Hempstead, N.Y. Reflecting on her work in the field, Orton said, “I know that I can effectively help someone in need of an advocate when it comes to human rights complaint because of the knowledge that I have gained, and through my valuable work experience.”

At the end of the fall term, Orton will finish her studies at the Colleges, graduating with an individual major, titled Language and Intercultural Identities, and a minor in Political Science.

Taking what she has gained from HWS and her experience in human rights, Orton plans to attend law school in the summer. “HWS has prepared me for law school and made me believe that anyone can do whatever they put their minds to.”