June 30, 2006
Compelled to Act: Whitworth Alumna Promotes Human Rights at U.S.-Mexico Border
Whitworth alumna Maren Haynes, '06, has no qualms about being on the front lines. As a music major, Haynes performed cello solos before packed halls during Whitworth Orchestra concerts. After graduating in May, Haynes sought a position on the front lines of one of the United States' most hotly debated issues: immigration. In September, Haynes will begin working in Tucson, Ariz., where she will promote the rights of illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Haynes will serve in Tucson for one year as a volunteer through the Presbyterian Church's Young Adult Volunteer Program. She will work at Southside Presbyterian Church, where her primary efforts will be on placing migrant and homeless people with temporary day jobs. She will also assist with worship services and other church-related projects.
"I feel compelled to act on behalf of the immigrant population because I believe people are created equal and that each person has a right to have a voice in society," Haynes says. "I think immigration is the most important domestic social issue of our time, and I believe it is my responsibility, as a majority voice, to act on behalf of the minority.
"I acknowledge that I have a lot to learn - immigration is a controversial issue, and I need to be silent and listen for a long time before I decide whether to solidify any of my preconceptions. But along with listening and learning in my role with Humane Borders, I am excited to take part in a flourishing, active community of diverse people and to share in their daily lives."
Actively participating in a community certainly describes Haynes' time at Whitworth. Her campus involvements ranged from being the cello section leader in the orchestra and singing in the Whitworth Choir for four years to co-founding and leading the feminist club Women in Society Everywhere. Haynes was also a member of other activist clubs, including the environmental group WASTE, as well as Understanding Sexuality, and Amnesty International.
Haynes, a native of Bozeman, Mont., majored in music with a cello performance emphasis and minored in psychology. She took part in numerous performance and training opportunities in the Whitworth Music Department, participated in study-abroad programs in London, Thailand and China, and was a teaching assistant for three Whitworth classes.
Haynes' role in WISE led her to become involved nationally in feminist issues, primarily through the National Network of Presbyterian College Women. The NNPCW, a ministry of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA), aims to nurture young women's spiritual development through study, discussion, prayer and action, according to the group's website, www.pcusa.org/nnpcw.
Haynes attended the NNPCW's summer leadership events, which in recent years have focused on women in the media, prejudice/privilege, and intergenerational dialogue. Haynes served for three years on the group's coordinating committee; for the past two years she was moderator for the group's leadership planning team that coordinated this summer's leadership event, in Louisville, Ky.
In recent years, Haynes has applied her efforts on the behalf of others at an international level. In 2004, she worked with youth in Lima, Peru, as part of a short-term mission trip, and in 2003 she spent two weeks with her family in the formerly Communist nation Kazakhstan, where her parents adopted two children, Aidar and Aigerim, who are brother and sister.
"My experience in Kazakhstan was incredible," Haynes says. "My family and I tried to steep ourselves in the culture as much as possible so we could retain it for Aidar and Aigerim. We got to know the people there as well as we could, to form meaningful connections we could later draw from for the kids; we didn't want to leave their heritage behind."
Protecting others' heritages, promoting human rights, and working on immigration issues are causes that motivate Haynes to take action and effect change. After completing her year as a volunteer with Humane Borders, Haynes plans to attend graduate school in the area of music research or conducting. But she realizes her work at the U.S.-Mexico border could alter her career goals.
"Depending on how this year goes, social justice could be my long-term focus," Haynes says. "I'm excited for whatever path I take."
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.