Manire Vaughn

Manire Vaughn is pictured with Minnesota Senator Bobby Joe Champion and Tina Smith, Governor Mark Dayton’s chief of staff.

As an African-American student at Saint Mary’s University, Manire Vaughn ’15 has worked hard to make other students of color feel more comfortable in their academic surroundings, and as a volunteer through Campus Ministry, he worked to serve underprivileged communities.

Looking back, Vaughn realizes his passion has always been advocating for civil rights and human rights. And, looking forward, his experiences — coupled with a summer internship with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department — have strengthened his desire to eventually become a civil rights attorney.

The Human Services and Criminal Justice major from Chicago is working this summer as a community outreach engagement intern.

The internship is part of the competitive Minneapolis Urban Scholars Program, which provides students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds with a distinctive professional experience focused on gaining essential leadership skills and creating career pathways to positions of influence.

This summer 26 graduate and undergrad Urban Scholars have been placed throughout Minneapolis for the 12-week full-time paid internship experience.

Vaughn said the experience has been fascinating. One of his key responsibilities has revolved around local celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the federal Civil Rights Act.

He’s been involved with planning and organizing events, creating talking points and press releases, working with media outlets, posting to social media, and sending out invites.

In addition, he’s been working on a policy recommendation project with the city’s Community Planning Economic Development Office.

“We’re trying to see how we can engage youth in the City of Minneapolis,” he said. “We’re holding a series of focus sessions to test the climate of youth to see what they know about the city and how to get involved. We plan to get more explicit, within guidelines and handbooks for commissions and boards, by adding in a clause that considers this population. For example, the majority of bikers in the city are between 18 and 25 years old, whereas members of the Bike Commission fall above this age range. So in their handbook, we will include a clause that reads they have to include a youth perspective when they make a decision.”

Vaughn describes his internship experience in one word: “growth.”

“It’s also been about steering my future: is the work that I’m doing valuable? With the experiences I’ve had here, I know that civil rights work is not over and has to continue to ensure rights for all, and that goes beyond race. Working with this department, I’ve learned that,” he said.

This is not the first time Vaughn has been recognized for his achievements.

This past spring, the Minnesota Campus Compact presented him with a Presidents’ Student Leadership Award, awarded to an individual who models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership.

Vaughn was recognized for his commitment to social justice, as evidenced by his campus leadership of SOUL (Serving Others United in Love) mission trips and by his work as a resident assistant and as a member of the Solidarity Council and Black Students and Allies.

“At Saint Mary’s, I have worn a lot of hats. I felt that being a part of Black Students and Allies was a sure way to support students of color. I believe SOUL forces students at Saint Mary’s to go outside of their comfort zone in a way that also builds community among students. As a student of color, I found myself flocking to those who shared similar backgrounds as a freshman, however SOUL forced me to deracinate my familiar engagement pattern by exposing me to other students with different perspectives and backgrounds,” he said. “And in Solidarity Council, you partner with other organizations to build a task force to reach more students. It’s all intertwined in relation to civil rights and human rights. It’s all about equity and equality.”

Following graduation, Vaughn hopes to get a master’s degree in public policy, as well as attend law school.

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