“I want to assure you that ‘doing more’ than a job is always a possibility, and even implore you that it’s always a necessity,” said Megan E. Hope, University Honors program alumna, at the Honors Program’s commencement celebration on May 16, 2015.
Since graduating from KU's University Honors Program in 1995, Hope has had a career that has done just that: contributed more through her compassion and dedication. Hope currently serves as the coordinator for the Human Trafficking Project and the Social Service Project at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network in Westminster, Colorado.
Her interest in working with immigrant populations came from growing up in Garden City, Kansas where she “witnessed the transformation of the town through new migration” as Latino and Southeast Asian immigrants arrived to work in local meat packing plants. She found herself inspired by the nearly 20 different languages she heard in her high school hallways, as well as by her town’s positive response to its rapid demographic changes.
After studying Spanish and majoring in anthropology and English at KU, Hope volunteered full-time with Annunciation House, an El Paso organization that runs hospitality houses for newly arrived immigrants and asylum seekers. It was, she says, “a seminal experience, not just career-wise but life-wise,” and it led her to a life-long career supporting immigrant communities. She has since continued her education through KU’s Master's in Latin American Studies (2000) program and the University of Denver’s Master of Social Work (2011) program.
During her distinguished alumna speech, Hope spoke to the importance of the friends, classmates, and mentors she met through University Honors, mentioning both Faculty Fellow Dr. Mary Klayder and former program director Dr. J. Michael Young.
She also impressed upon Honors students the challenges that face them and the world as a whole, but not without reminding them that there are great rewards that come from dedicating one’s life to important and challenging work:
“The world has never not been broken, but it’s broken in particular ways now, and we need all hands on deck. We need you. Whether you teach, study, research, heal, raise children, engineer, sell, trade, write, build, travel, or wait for work, you have the power, you have the minds, and you will develop the fortitude to live with the uncomfortable questions, to be willingly inconvenienced by the needs of others, to understand, to reflect, and to act for equity and justice. [. . .]
“Compassion means suffering with. [. . .] Suffer with others, and find someone to be with you in your suffering. If you do this, none of your education or preparation will be in vain.”