Audriana Blackwell, Western Connecticut State University
Audriana Blackwell, a senior at Western Connecticut State University, spent two semesters in Thailand working with several non-government organizations to understand the root causes of human trafficking. As a Hancock Student Leader, she shadowed the Director of Girls’ Services for the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families, where she participated in the department’s efforts to address domestic minor sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. She recently returned from a trip to Colombia, where she worked on issues related to poverty abatement. She has also worked in Rwanda with orphans. Audriana understands the importance of networking and how to sets its potential in motion. Her skills as a public speaker are impressive. Her spirit of generosity is inspirational.
-James Schmotter, President
When I first learned about the horrors of human trafficking, I knew I had to respond. Vulnerable youth all over the world are at risk of being trafficked. I began by mentoring high school girls through Young Life and worked for Jericho Partnership to engage in asset based community development with a focus on at-risk families. Knowing that the epicenter for trafficking is in Southeast Asia, I refocused my education plan to include one year studying abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, where I could learn about direct intervention. In Bangkok, I was first an outreach coordinator for Nightlight International and later a manager in their transitional home for internationally trafficked women. Upon returning home for my senior year, I was accepted into the Hancock Student Leadership program where I was assigned an internship with Tammy Sneed, Director of Girl’s Services at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. At DCF I am focused on domestic minor sex trafficking prevention and intervention as well as community education about the reality of sex trafficking. I intend to continue my education through graduate school and then focus the rest of my life on making our world a safer place for our vulnerable youth.