Alumni Portraits

Mathilde Scheffer

Mathilde Scheffer

Occupation: Advocacy Adviser for SOS Children’s Village International
EMA Year: 2011-2012
Thesis: Roma Inclusion – A focus on good practices in Education

On the E.MA programme

I entered into human rights with a focus on right to education while promoting the right of minorities. I am extremely grateful to the E.MA programme as it gave me the chance to explore this topic a bit further than I thought I could ever do. One of the former alumni, Veronique, contacted me while I was at the University of Vienna: thanks to her, I had the opportunity to apply for SOS Children’s Village International. It has been a huge step in my career as I am employed since then with this organisation.

Her most memorable EMA experience

Kosovo remains the most striking moment of my E.MA experience. It was the first time I went to a post-conflict area. It was an immense privilege to meet all stakeholders and discuss how the conflict has affected their lives

What she thinks of the EMAlumni Association

The E.MAlumni Association is an extraordinary platform for exchange. A connective tool between the different generations of alumni: we should focus on advising and coaching each other.

Ram Kumar Bhandari

Occupation:Human Rights Defender/Researcher

EMA Year:2010/11

Thesis: The Role of Victims Organisations in Transition from Conflict: Families of the Disappeared in Nepal

On the EMA program

I worked as a human rights advocate to secure justice for conflict survivors in Nepal before joining EMA program. Due to activism in the field, I received many threats from security officials. I joined the programme because I looked for some space to avoid those threats and wished to enhance my knowledgein human rights. It helped me professionally (adding an intellectual input in my activism) and helped me expand my network in the human rights world.

His most memorable EMA experience

My most memorable experience in Venice was the first week “EMA fair” where I met Professors and academic advisors from 41 participating universities from all over Europe, that was an amazing platform to me: “where the local meets the global.

What he thinks of the EMAlumni Association

It is now a global platform for every graduate. We can create a global space for human conscience where we can retreat ourselves that I am envisioning for the future in Nepal. It has been helpful in many ways to connect different people from the global north to the global south, share experiences and create a space for all friends in different hubs of the world. It has a greater role to keep people alert, connected and updated. I participated in the General Assembly in Brussels in2014 and joined the Mentoring Program as a mentor.

Rosa Izquierdo

Occupation: Freelance Human Rights, Protection and Psychology Professional; GLOCARIS Glocal Minds Ltd consultancy firm owner

EMA Year: 1998-1999

Thesis: Psychosocial support to international field operators

On the EMA programme

Nothing of what I have done since would have been possible without the Master programme, it helped me to develop a multiplier mindset of great value when working with institutions and systems. It actually opened the doors for my first contracts, in Liberia on women raped in war and then back home as government advisor on development.

Most memorable EMA experience

The first lectures from high-level professionals, from these, that you read about, sign books, guidelines and reports that you devour, the ones that contribute to policies are in the public domain. Suddenly they are there, all the way to Venice, in front of you, sharing, human, life and alive.

On the EMAlumni Association

Now that I am developing my own firm, I see the association as a way to build alliances with former colleagues, further understand the needs of human rights experts, offer tailored services, develop broader programmes together, enjoy nice chats, alive discussion and feel there are people out there that also stay for this way of life that is actually my leitmotiv. Stay connected!

Carla Luis

Occupation:Researcher and Consultant

EMA Year:2005-2006

Thesis: How development should embrace culture and culture’s contribution to development

On the EMA programme

I concluded my PhD, with a thesis addressing peacebuilding and elections. During my professionalpath I came across this topic, also by working in the field. This is an area I would like to continue to focus on, bothprofessional and academically. I think the topics the E.MA covers are so broad that you can have a global perspective of the critical range of issues, and also how these interrelate. After having this diverse experience your horizons really broaden, and it opens perspectives for a range of issues with a global focus and by sharing different experiences. This was probably a great legacy.

Looking back to when I enrolled in the EMA it’s quite funny. I graduated in law and in Portugal you need to do a two-year internship in order to qualify as a lawyer. Having done this in a big law firm, I felt I needed to see more. Living abroad seemed the right choice, and the EMA came across. Definitely, one of the best outcomes was the group of friends and colleagues you then get around the world – and that is probably one of the best assets of having done the EMA.

Her most memorable EMA experience

I think the experience as a whole was already quite remarkable.

However, maybe the most exciting part was the field trip to Kosovo. I think during that week our “global map” really shifted. To be emerged in a different culture, with so many different international organisations and different working logics, all coexisting in the same disputed space, was actually very intense. Within this, the trip to Pejë/Peć, on a frozen winter day, was also very unique.

Her perception of the EMAlumni Association

In Lisbon, we are reactivating the EMA hub, many thanks to the active participation of the E.MAlumni Association members. I hope the newMasterini coming to Lisbon feel welcome in this sense.It is also a great feeling to know that, after so many years, the alumni network exists and it is something we can rely on.

Diego Naranjo

Occupation: Senior Policy Advisor a European Digital Rights (EDRi)

EMA Year: 2010-2011

Thesis: Watching the watchmen: the defence and promotion of human rights by human rights defenders in local, national and international contexts and the protection of their activity

On the EMA programme

After co-founding a human rights organisation in Andalusia (Grupo 17 de Marzo) and working as a lawyer for many years in Spain, I decided I wanted to try to find a full-time job related to human rights. After discussing with my professor of International Law in Seville, he suggested me to apply for EMA as a first good step in that direction.

Most memorable EMA experience

The field trip to Kosovo was a great experience since it gave us the opportunity to meet a wide range of professionals working there. It was a great experience to stay with a local family and hearing their views on present, past and future and how they saw the involvement of the international community. Finally, it was a great way to have a farewell party with everyone before we headed to our different destinations to prepare our thesis.

On the EMAlumni Association

I see the Association as a great way to stay in touch with fantastic professionals from all over Europe (and beyond) and share experiences, make connections and learn from each other. I would like the Association to get more involved in policy discussions and being more activist if possible, but I understand the constraints of budget and time of people involved in the association.