Gender and Politics: Making a Difference

by Alyssa Reid

Courtney Lockhart is a determined young woman looking to make a difference for other women and children around the world. As an undergrad in political science at the University of Lethbridge Courtney completed an internship in Washington, D.C., heard Hillary Clinton speak at the U.S. Department of State, and worked as a co-op research assistant for the Canadian government. Soon she will be headed to Carleton University to start her master’s degree.

Courtney started her post-secondary education at Lethbridge College. She completed 20 classes there before transferring to the U of L. She knew that the political science department at the U of L was where she belonged. “I just found it fascinating to learn about political engagement and the theory behind policy work,” says Courtney, “I was just hooked from there on.”

Courtney’s passion for politics has created a number of opportunities. One of the most exciting was an internship at Global Centurion, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., that is working to stop modern slavery by focusing on the demand for human trafficking. She worked for the founder Laura Lederer, J.D., who has worked extensively in the state department. Courtney specifically worked on a program for Haiti, raising awareness of the human rights issues occurring there. “Human trafficking is a huge problem in Haiti; children are often victims due to poverty and a lack of resources,” explains Courtney.

While she was in D.C. Courtney also worked with a torture abolition support group. Torture survivors and students partnered up to speak on Capitol Hill about human rights. “There was this one woman from Venezuela who talked about the political oppression and sexual abuse that she went through. It was really eye opening,” says Courtney, “I saw the power of helping women and girls around the world.”

The highlight of her internship was the day she heard former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, J.D., speak at the Department of State for The Trafficking in Persons Report – a report by the U.S. Government on anti-human trafficking efforts around the world. “It was really cool to see her in person. The work she did as Secretary of State was just incredible,” Courtney says, “I was just blown away by how much intellectual capability it takes to be that on the ball every single day.”

Courtney's second internship was quite different, but no less exciting. She worked in Calgary for eight months as a research assistant for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada – a department of the Canadian government that works to fulfill government responsibilities to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people. She assisted on cases, such as land title and membership claims, between the federal government and aboriginal peoples. Courtney says, “It was a great professional experience. If there was a court case related to our office they would send us to go and see it. We also did presentations for lawyers at the Department of Justice.”

The work Courtney did in both D.C. and Calgary had a large impact on what classes she chose to take. One of her favourite classes on campus was a Women and Gender Studies class on women in film, taught by Dr. Carol Williams. “Professor Williams is continually going above and beyond for her students. Her zest and dedication to research and teaching is contagious,” explains Courtney, “I was able to branch out and learn more about the social aspects of gender and the media.”

Another professor at the U of L who has had an incredible impact on Courtney's education is Dr. Christopher Kukucha. He supervised an independent study that Courtney did on human trafficking while she was working in Calgary. He was also the first person to suggest that she should continue her education by going to graduate or law school. “He was one of the first people who opened my eyes to further educational opportunities that are out there,” says Courtney.

Next on her list is Ottawa. “I just accepted my Carleton offer. I am doing an MA in political science with a focus on gender and international relations,” she exclaims, “I want to do development work specifically related to women and girls.”

Apply for admission to the University of Lethbridge today!