Michael Solis to work with Trocaire
Mitchell Scholar Michael Solis is heading to Nicaragua soon to begin working with the Irish charity Trocaire. What follows is his account of his path.
October 28, 2012: After graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 2007, I wanted to acquire more work experience abroad in the human rights sector. Two fellowships – the Henry Luce Scholarship and the Princeton in Latin America fellowship, enabled me to do that in South Korea and Chile, respectively. Before moving to Chile, a friend suggested that I apply for the Mitchell Scholarship, given my desire to pursue a master’s degree in human rights law. I was also drawn to the Mitchell for personal reasons. While my decisions to live, work, and study in Latin America were ways to connect to my Latino roots, I thought that studying in Ireland would pay homage to the Irish heritage on my mother’s side of the family.
The Mitchell Scholarship proved to be an invaluable opportunity to deepen my studies of human rights from a legal perspective, exposing me to incredible professors, inspiring peers, and courses on topics like international humanitarian law and minority rights. My dissertation focused on the legal viability, or lack thereof, of HIV-related travel restrictions – an issue I covered as a citizen’s journalist in South Korea and researched for a UNAIDS publication.
The Mitchell scholarship and a volunteer experience with the Irish NGO Fighting Words stimulated my passion for human development, particularly youth empowerment. I spent the following two years after the Mitchell serving as the development director of the Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE) in Honduras, where I sought to help reverse the country’s poverty and insecurity cycles by providing at-risk youth with education, leadership training, and skills in the arts, sports, and communications to become agents of positive change. Following that experience, I teamed up with Mateo Alexander (Mitchell class of 2003) in Bogota, Colombia to support his work with Ahmsa, an exceptional organization that seeks to reduce poverty and promote dignity in marginalized communities through entrepreneurship and innovation.
In November, I will be moving to Nicaragua to work for the Irish development agency, Trocaire. Currently, Trocaire works in 28 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and addresses pertinent issues such as ending poverty and hunger, promoting justice, empowering women, disaster management, HIV, and climate change, among others. My role as the Regional Institutional Funding Officer for Latin America will make me a key actor in bringing resources and aid to the region, specifically Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Colombia. I am excited about the opportunity to help promising NGOs become more sustainable by providing them access to game-changing funding streams. At the same time, I am looking forward to strengthening my ties to Ireland by working for an organization like Trocaire that has had such a positive impact on the world since its inception in 1973.