University Professor Receives Outstanding Human Rights Community Activist Award

Lynda Ziemba of the Department of Political Science and Sociology Receives Award from Kean University


Lynda Ziemba, professor of the University’s Graduate School of Social Work and the Department of Political Science and Sociology, received the Outstanding Human Rights Community Activist Award from the Human Rights Institute at Kean University during the Sixth Annual International Conference on Human Rights on Friday, March 8.

According to Kean University’s website, “The mission of the Human Rights Institute [at Kean University] is to raise awareness of human rights violations worldwide and inspire action to combat these injustices.”

Millie Gonzales, Director of the Human Rights Institute at Kean University, said, “Award recipients are chosen based on their personification of the Human Rights Institute’s call to action through one’s invaluable contributions to the advancement of human rights.” As a global community development social worker, Ziemba was honored for her contributions to increase awareness and advancement of human rights, especially in Africa.

Ziemba’s love for Africa began years ago as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI). As a part of home-building teams, Ziemba worked to help local communities in Ghana and Uganda.

“I’ve worked with HFHI locally for many years,” said Ziemba. “I enjoy how the organization is run. It gives people a hand-up, not a hand-out.” During the home- building process, local citizens play a huge role in constructing the homes they receive. “I like solidarity as opposed to charity,” she said.

Ziemba will continue to work with HFHI in January 2014 when she will lead a team of 14 volunteers on another home-building trip to Zambia. Emily Ellis, freshman, is interested in joining Ziemba on the expedition to Zambia. “I have always possessed the desire to help impoverished children in third-world countries,” said Ellis. “Professor Ziemba has shown me that it is not a responsibility to help out, but a choice based on a person’s heart, and she has truly inspired me.”

Ziemba’s background in Africa extends even further to working at the Liberian refugee settlement at St. Gregory’s Pre-Natal Clinic as an HIV/AIDS screener and counselor. There, Ziemba promoted the safety of pregnant refugee women and their unborn children.

In addition, Ziemba has developed a micro-credit project in Liberia aimed at assisting women in the development of small businesses. “Women overseas are the strongest people in the world,” said Ziemba. “They have such drive, such passion. These women achieve for their families and their communities; not just for their own personal well-being. It truly is fantastic and they deserve to be able to succeed.”

Throughout winter break 2012, Ziemba worked in Makeni, Lusaka-Zambia at City of Hope (CoH), an organization that affords a loving home for young girls in need of family support. CoH also provides educational resources to the local community. Ziemba’s commitment to CoH includes developing future adult literacy programs.

“I could not think of a more deserving person to win this award,” exclaimed sociology and gender studies professor, Nancy Mezey. “Ziemba does fabulous work and she brings that drive and passion into the classroom. She truly is excellent at what she does.”

The Human Rights Institute sponsors a broad range of activities, including seminars and conferences, and works with school districts to produce curricula and materials for students. “I am honored to have been chosen to receive this award. I love what I do, and it is a great feeling being recognized for it,” said Ziemba

PHOTO COURTESY of Lynda Ziemba