Shaped by her experiences growing up a Hazara minority in war-torn Afghanistan, Lina Tori Jan has become a student leader and visionary at the University of Richmond. She is committed to addressing issues of inequality and to advocating tirelessly for the rights of others. Tori Jan is a leadership studies and political science double major and a Bonner Scholar. In her first year at the University, she began volunteering with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), supporting refugees from across the globe. Seeking deeper knowledge about and connection to state government and policy, Tori Jan began volunteering with the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth last semester. As an intern, she supports the Governor's Restoration of Rights program, helping to restore civil rights to individuals who are released from incarceration.
My first exposure to the root causes of social issues was in Afghanistan, where I grew up in the midst of war. The Taliban stripped many people of their right to participate in society, confining one of the fundamental values a person can have. They shut down schools, burnt books, falsely accused and imprisoned individuals, and prohibited women and minority groups from public appearance. This experience ignited the desire to transcend social boundaries and fight for my right to education while advocating for the rights of others through community service.
In Afghanistan, I volunteered at a literacy class where I taught women the basics of reading and writing in Dari. As a Bonner Scholar at the University of Richmond, I taught an ESL and a Mommy-and-Me class for refugees and immigrants at the International Rescue Committee. My current internship with the Department of Restoration of Rights focuses on restoring rights to convicted felons. When an individual restores their right to vote, they have an opportunity to create a new life by regaining a power they had lost: their voice.
Working with different marginalized groups has taught me the importance of being proactive in addressing issues related to human rights.