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The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30: The Human Rights Advocate Who Wants to Study Post-Conflict Reconstruction

For the month of April we're profiling the individuals who made our inaugural list of the 30 top thinkers under 30, the young men and women we predict will have a serious impact on the social, political, and economic issues we cover every day here at Pacific Standard.
The Saleha Bayat Building at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Saleha Bayat Building at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. (Photo: Public Domain)

Allyson Krupar, 28, Education

“Human rights advocacy has some of the best days and worst days of any work,” says Allyson Krupar, who works to empower women in war-afflicted nations.

In Afghanistan, at the American University there, she set up a women's leadership club. “The students run the group,” Krupar says, “and it is active, though as you can imagine, getting work done on gender equity and women's leadership in Kabul requires patience.”

(Photo: Allyson Krupar)


Krupar has worked in Liberia, too, traveling there to study human-rights advocacy, though she ended up learning more about adult education and post-conflict training than she expected to. “There is much to do in education—and with adults in particular—in conflict-affected environments,” she says. “It is such a large field and dilemma that I can't imagine doing anything else.”

On her first day as an undergrad at Case Western Reserve University, Krupar was sitting in a cultural anthropology class and instantly fell in love with the subject. It made her want to travel to different places and help people around the world.

After finishing her master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies—her graduate work at American University focused on international conflict resolution, anthropology, and human-rights law—“I started to look at my CV and realized that the work that I enjoyed most was that which was related to education.” So she headed to Pennsylvania State University for a dual-title Ph.D. in adult education and comparative international education.

Her goal, in part, is to contribute to the growing body of research about post-conflict reconstruction, especially as it pertains to providing victims of violence with an education.

In addition to her work in Afghanistan, where she taught basic technology skills, and in Liberia, where she developed gender-awareness training programs (and still serves as Amnesty International’s regional specialist), she’s also combated human-rights violations in Egypt and worked to prevent infectious diseases in Uganda. In Ohio, where she’s from, she participated in AmeriCorps and AmericaReads.

Krupar, a practicing Catholic, admires the church’s new figurehead. “I find Pope Francis' work and attitude to be an inspiration,” she says, “both in his humility and dedication.” She cites her late grandfather, a music teacher, as another guiding light: “He taught me this: ‘Life is hard by the yard but by the inch it's a cinch’”—a helpful motto to have when you’re trying to maintain balance in a war zone. Krupar also meditates and does yoga daily.

“Some days,” she says, “the reality of the abuses are just too much. But you keep moving. Other days, when your work has made some change, when a government or group has finally stopped what you have been calling for them to stop, those days are the best and sweetest.”

See our complete 2014 list of the 30 top thinkers under 30 here.