Sat, Apr 26 2014 12:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno
Kiera Murphy is on a mission to change the world.
When the California Lutheran University senior studied abroad in India two years ago, she helped set up VOICE 4 Girls, a nonprofit organization that focuses on enabling marginalized adolescent girls in India to take charge of their futures by imparting critical knowledge and life skills through activity-based camps.
“I wanted to go to India originally because I really wanted to volunteer abroad and I felt like India was the perfect environment to do that, especially because I wanted to work with girls’ education,” she said.
Her role in the organization was to handle the business of the organization such as fundraising and bringing awareness to the organization and the cause.
This summer the Hilltop High alumna and the Chula Vista native’s next adventure takes her to Amman, Jordan, to work with the greater refugee population that was displaced by the Syrian conflict.
The Syrian conflict is a civil war between the Syrian government and anti-regime rebels.
Murphy will be in Jordan as part of a fellowship for her master’s degree in public policy and administration.
It is in Jordan where she will conduct research for her thesis, which is about women’s political activism in Amman. She said she is focusing on specific barriers that women face in the Arab country from seeking political office.
But don’t assume that the 21-year-old is only in Jordan for academic purposes, and not doing what she loves.
“I feel like there is nothing that makes me happier than service and volunteering,” she said. “It’s been a huge part of my life thus far.”
Murphy said she is going to volunteer in community centers and at different refugee communities in Amman. She will be working with school-aged children on empowerment initiatives.
Murphy said the life experiences she had in India prepares her for her trip to Jordan.
“Life in India was definitely life changing,” she said. “Just because it was a totally new environment for me and I was adjusting a lot to the culture.”
However, her experience in India wasn’t always peaceful.
“To be very honest, sexual harassment was something that I faced every day,” she said
Murphy remembers walking down the streets of India while getting catcalls.
She said she had to dress more conservatively than she does at home in America. She said when she walked down the streets she had to be ready to fight in case a man would try to grab her.
But all of that didn’t deter her from the reason she was there.
She said the women in India are the strongest women that she’s ever met.
“Especially the young girls (in India) who had overcome so much, rather it’s living in slum communities, being survivors of rape and things like that,” she said.
“But they were still the most courageous, brave, resilient humans that I’ve ever met.”
Murphy, a self-proclaimed global citizen, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. Although she plans to start a career with the U.S. government, She wants to inspire others to make a difference.
“The long-term goal is to be a professor so I can inspire other students like myself to pursue academics in order to change the world.”
© 2009 The Star-News