First-year makes impact in Amnesty International Colby
First-year student Aquib Yacoob, a passionate advocate for human rights, currently reigns as the leader of Amnesty International's Colby chapter.
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He may be a first-year, but Aquib Yacoob ’15 has already proven that few students here on the Hill can match the ardent passion that he possesses for human rights causes. A dedicated supporter of international civil liberties, Aquib currently serves as the student area-coordinator of Amnesty International in Maine and is the leader of Amnesty International’s Colby chapter. Aquib also works with the Oak Institute for International Human Rights, which brought Oak Fellow Fatima Burnad to campus last fall.
A native of Guyana, located on the northern coast of South America, Aquib moved to New York City at eight years old. Hardworking from the start, he was accepted to Townsend Harris High School, one of the premier public schools in New York. On the first day of his high school career, members of the school’s Amnesty International chapter approached him, asking him to consider joining the group.
“That weekend, I ended up attending a rally called ‘24 Hours for Darfur,’” Aquib said, reflecting that it was at that point “my passion was ignited for human rights. I’m a strong believer that to achieve a peaceful world we need to tolerate and understand other cultures.”
After contacting the New York State office for Amnesty International for materials to use in local chapter efforts, Aquib was invited to attend multiple meetings and eventually became a self-described “emerging leader in the Northeast region.” Aquib has had the honor of addressing the United Nations General Assembly. “I addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the International Day Peace on the topic of illicit small arms,” he said. He has also addressed the UN on other occasions, and has addressed a variety of other issues, including maternal health and torture as counter-terrorism tactic.
Continuing his passionate work for Amnesty International throughout high school, Aquib applied to the College in his senior year. Finding that the former leader of Colby’s Amnesty International would be abroad and unable to continue the chapter, Aquib jumped at the chance to take over.
In his first year leading Amnesty International, Aquib has been quite active in promoting the group both on and off campus. Amnesty International Colby came in third place at the Human Rights Ambassador’s Challenge. According to Amnesty International USA’s website, the purpose of this contest is to find groups of youth activists who “have been engaged in meaningful and empowering action” on behalf of human rights in the past year. As a result of their efforts, Colby’s Amnesty group received a $1,000 grant, and Aquib intends to take Amnesty International Colby to Denver, Col. later this semester, where they would be honored for their achievement and participate in a human rights conference.
Aquib says that attending such a conference will spark passion in each of Colby’s Amnesty members. “You come back with activism high, with the skills, drive, and really the ability to make change.”
Most importantly, Aquib has found Colby to be the perfect place to continue his efforts.
“People at Colby are not just friends; we’re family,” he said. In addition to the close-knit feel of community here on the Hill, Aquib enjoys the wealth of opportunities at the College. Having just returned from a JanPlan in Quito, Ecuador, he acknowledged, “Colby offers a ton of opportunities you wouldn’t find elsewhere.”
Bringing a similar passion into the classroom, Aquib has decided to pursue an independent major called international medicine. This major will allow Aquib to pursue interdisciplinary studies from anthropology to the sciences, relating to the issue of health as a human right. This major might lead to a future as a doctor, but for now he’s “extremely, extremely happy” with his experiences here on the Hill.