Kelly Mwaamba

Majors: Government & Law, International Affairs

Minor: Chinese

Thesis Title: China’s Political Motivations and Legal Justification for the Violation of Ethnic Minority Human Rights

Personal Statement

If freshman-year me could see herself now, she’d be shocked. Looking back at my experience as captain of the dance team, she’d be surprised because she distinctly remembered attending one of her first practices and thinking to herself that someone like her could never lead a team on Fisher field. She’d be proud of herself for continuing with speech and debate and growing into her role as team captain there, too. She’d be excited by the prospect of attending law school next fall but most of all, she’d be proud of herself for finally understanding what it truly means to ask ‘why not?’

While collegiate forensics may appear to define me, the truth is that I never would have attended the first interest meeting had I not been inspired by one of my now-graduated friends, Saeed. This is not an isolated theme, as I wouldn’t have felt confident putting myself forward as an EXCEL scholar applicant without multiple professor’s encouragement, nor would I have run for dance team captain if it weren’t for my fellow team members expressing their confidence in my leadership capabilities. It was through these experiences that I began learning how to build authentic faith in my own abilities. As such, I have come to understand that the Lafayette ideal is not something that can be cultivated in isolation but, rather, it’s the collective product of our work as a community.

As I begin looking toward the future, Lafayette’s overwhelming sense of inspiration, uplifting motivation, and hope is a feature that will continue to guide my actions and choices. It may have taken me four years to get here, but I finally feel confident enough to say that the only question left to ask is ‘why not?’

Academic Activity |years involved|

Minerva and Emil V. Novak Prize in Government and Law  |1| Awarded by the Government and Law Department in recognition of overall excellence in academic work and citizenship within the campus community.

International Affairs Hatfield Award for Global Scholarship |1| Awarded based on overall excellence in international scholarship and global citizenship, as selected by the International Affairs Advisory Committee.

President of Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society for International Affairs |1| Induction is based on scholarship and service among students and practitioners of international studies, international relations, and global studies. As President, I was responsible for allocating a Vice President and a Treasurer, as well as attending events and signing certificates on behalf of the International Affairs Department.

Phi Sigma Alpha Honor Society for Political Science |2| Recognizes academic achievement in the political science/government and law division.

Tri-Alpha First Generation Honor Society |3| Recognizes first-generation students who demonstrate a strong commitment to academic performance.

EXCEL Scholar |1.5| I worked with Professor Silverstein to help research and edit chapters in her upcoming book about the politicization of the American judiciary. Specifically, we brainstormed chapters and content questions together and I performed an initial research sweep for a selection of questions. Based on this sweep, I assembled draft chapter outlines. Once Professor Silverstein had written chapter responses, we read through them together to identify opportunities for clarification and substantive expansion. (Article feature available here)

Eugene P. Chase Phi Beta Kappa Academic Achievement Prize |1| Awarded to sophomore students who demonstrate excellent academic performance during their first year.

Gov Lab |1 Semester| Worked as part of a large team to help build the foundations for a significant (40,000+) sample of local party leaders, activists, and verified political donors as part of an upcoming American Political Leadership study. My responsibilities included data collection and data processing using the R programming language. (Further description available here)

Dean’s List |4| Made the Dean’s list all 8 semesters at Lafayette.

Campus Service |years involved|

LiveWell Ambassador |2 |Completed training sessions to become a LiveWell ambassador for the campus community. Specifically, I focused on questions of intellectual wellness and helped design and facilitate on-campus activities to raise awareness for intellectual wellness within the student community.

International Students’ Association Extravaganza |2| As a member of the International Student Association, I performed a self-choreographed dance in ISA’s annual extravaganza showcase which seeks to highlight cultural diversity and foster appreciation within the campus community.

Writing Associate |3| As a member of the writing association staff for three years, I worked together with students, both as an embedded class resource and during weekly drop-in hours, to help shape their individual writing processes as it pertains to writing for academic purpose. I work with students of all class years and academic disciplines, with a focus towards students who study English as a second language.

Community Service |years involved|

Technology Clinic |1| Technology clinic is a selective, two-semester interdisciplinary program where students work together to identify a local community issue and collectively strive to resolve it. My group’s focus was directed toward creating a digital asset map to reflect current conditions and enhance socioeconomic prosperity in Easton’s West Ward. Together with the Greater Easton Development Project, we developed an asset map of the West Ward, identified socioeconomic drivers within that region, identified tangible assets that can further drive socio-economic expansion, and articulated our findings to the College President and Mayor of Easton.

Literacy Day |4| Each year, along with other members of the Pi Beta Phi chapter, I have helped organize activities on campus as part of the annual Literacy Day celebration. My primary responsibilities have included organizing and running activities for elementary and middle school students in attendance.

Easton Area Community Center After-School Club |3| Each semester, I, along with other members of the Pi Beta Phi chapter, visit the Easton Area Community Center and read primarily STEM-related texts to children at the after-school club. After reading these books, we facilitate activities related to the theme of each week’s book and encourage the children to engage with these themes and ideas.

Athletic Activity |years involved|

Varsity Dance Team Captain |4 total, 2 as captain| As a member of the Lafayette College Dance Team since my freshman year, my college career has been largely defined by my commitment to dance. My dance team commitment involved attending pre-season practices, as well as a standard three practices during the week. During football season, we perform at all home half-time games and some away games when permitted. During basketball season, we also perform at all home halftimes for men’s and women’s games. As captain, I have been responsible, over the last two years, for organizing practices, purchasing uniforms and budget control, as well as choreographic material and managing the team on game days. I have taken pride in redrafting the team’s constitution and mission statement to reflect new and updated goals and team values. At the conclusion of each active season, I also helped orchestrate auditions.

Conqueror Virtual Marathons |2| During quarantine, I began participating in virtual marathons. As part of the Conqueror community, I have run over 1000+ miles. For each challenge you complete, each of which are based on real locations, five real trees are planted.

Special Interest Activity |years involved|

Varsity Speech & Debate Captain |4 total, 1 as captain| When I first moved to the United States, I didn’t know what forensics was. Reflecting on my experience in this activity four years later, I am beyond grateful for the skills, opportunities, and sense of community that forensics has afforded me. From a personal perspective, speech has enhanced my capacity as both an avid performer and a dedicated activist. Coming from a competitive dance background, I have always been fascinated by the art of performance. Forensics has encouraged me to couple that enthusiasm with in-depth research and expansive issue awareness to create entertaining, informative, and influential pieces. I have competed in more than 45 tournaments, won over 10 state championship titles, and participated in several national out rounds. As team captain, I have taken a special interest in helping coach underclassmen on the team, as well as traveling to additional tournaments to lend a helping hand to those who are newer to the activity.

Interstate Oratorical Association Publications |3| The Interstate Oratory Association is an intercollegiate contest in oratory or persuasive speaking. Founded in 1874, the IOA is the oldest public speaking organization in the United States and has held contests for the top oratory or persuasive speakers from each state ever since. (Source: IOA Wikipedia) As part of my forensics career, I have received three bids to attend the Interstate Oratorical Association competition and represent the state of Pennsylvania. Each year, participants’ speeches are published as part of the IOA process. In 2020, I published my speech entitled ‘Tackling the Rising Trend of Youth Suicide as a Result of Self Poisoning’. In 2021, I published a speech on ‘Juvenile Immigrant Deportation: A Rising Battle’. This year, I will publish my third speech which explores the role that police dogs play in our current society and some of the associated race-based implications.

Southern and Northern Atlantic Forensic Union Scholarship |1| Awarded by the national SNAFU board based on merit in academics, forensics excellence, and community service.

Senior Thesis |1| Together with Professor Cho and Professor Stewart-Gambino, my joint government and law and international affairs honors thesis examines the political motivations behind the Chinese government’s ongoing persecution of ethnic minority human rights across the Chinese landscape and analyzes the legal justificatory frameworks that the Chinese government constructs to avoid legal accountability. This research consults both primary and secondary sources to, first, identify a consistency dilemma with regard to various Chinese President’s treatment of ethnic minority question across various autonomous regions and, second, in response to this consistency dilemma, proposes a threat perception hypothesis that sufficiently addresses and explains this policy inconsistency before presenting a preventative legal justification hypothesis which explains how the Chinese judiciary creates a system in which it is impossible for ethnic minority human rights questions to reach the national docket and, thus, escape adjudication.