Peoria to Washington D.C.: Bradley student explores human trafficking

October 24, 2013

By Maggie Cipriano ‘15

Almost 800 miles away from Bradley University, Criminal Justice and Sociology major senior Melissa Zacarias finds herself with a plethora of new opportunities.

Zacarias obtained her internship with the Break the Chain Company through the Washington Semester Program offered at Bradley University in collaboration with American University in Washington D.C. This program offers students the opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital to implement their studies first hand with real world experience.

As an Education and Worker Organizing intern, Zacarias stated her experience has “opened the doors to networking opportunities, allowing me to meet an array of different professionals and individuals with similar passions.”

Zacarias’s internship consists of attending different meetings concerning labor rights, social issues, trafficking, or general information as part of her work for Break the Chain Campaign.

 “I collect and compile stories from the news, client files, or any source available. There is the primary focus on researching topics for anchor groups, and developing and translating factsheets for educational as well distribution purposes,” she said.

In acknowledging the opportunities that her internship has provided, Zacarias encouraged other students to pursue their career goals by first starting with people they know. 

“Past or current professors or supervisors know the type of person you are and what your passions, drives, or interests are. They can be very helpful in providing you with different internship opportunities,” she said.

Zacarias also encouraged people to use, suggested by Bradley University’s Smith Career Center, noting, “An internship will not be handed to you. You have to take the initiative to search and apply.” 

Zacarias has certainly worked hard in the pursuit of her goals and Peoria Illinois isn’t far from her thoughts even while in Washington D.C., “Bradley University has not only given me the opportunity to expand my social network, but Bradley has also given me the opportunity to expand on a career field that I hope to enter; the human rights field to specifically assist human trafficking victims or combat against the human trafficking industry.”