Hannah Skvarla '10 speaking at Senior Convocation 2014.
Hannah Skvarla '10 speaking at Senior Convocation 2014.

Commencement 2014 kicks off with new ‘Rising Star’ humanitarian award

When she was just 12 years old, Hannah Skvarla ’10 and family members visited a displaced person’s camp in war-torn Uganda. It opened her eyes in a way that she’s never forgotten.

When she was just 12 years old, Hannah Skvarla ’10 and family members visited a displaced person’s camp in war-torn Uganda. It opened her eyes in a way that she’s never forgotten and which drives her work today.

Human rights activist Hannah Skvarla '10, pictured here in Guatemala, is the inaugural recipient of the Schweitzer Rising Star Award.
Human rights activist Hannah Skvarla ’10, pictured here in Guatemala, is the inaugural recipient of the Schweitzer Rising Star Award.

“That was an incredible experience. I remember that there were so many people living in such tight quarters with no opportunities. There was no way for people to be educated, there were no work opportunities and they were just stuck,” Skvarla says.

Today Skvarla is the co-founder, along with friend Lauren Conrad, of The Little Market, an online retailer that works with artisans in developing countries to sell their products online and help their families rise out of poverty. And she is the recipient of Chapman University’s first Schweitzer Rising Star Award. Skvarla was presented with the award at Thursday evening’s Senior Convocation, which officially opened the two-day Commencement 2014 program.

“The award is a huge honor. It came completely as a surprise. But I’m always excited when human rights work is highlighted because it’s so important and there are so many human rights issues around the world that don’t get highlighted,” she says.

Skvarla is also a leading member of Human Rights Watch and writes about human rights issues for the blog HelloGiggles, founded by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi.

The Schweitzer Rising Star Award will be given each year by the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Chapman University to an inspirational young alumna or alumnus who has taken up Albert Schweitzer’s challenge to find a place to invest his or her humanity for the betterment of humankind and the world.

The institute’s Award of Excellence has been given since 1982 to an individual or organization that exemplifies Dr. Schweitzer’s ethic of reverence for life and his dedication to service. This year’s recipient is Karen Haren ’71, past president and CEO of Harvesters – The Community Food Network. Haren will be presented with her award at Baccalaureate.

 

 

 

 

Dawn Bonker

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