Students talking in front of posters

Orla Haughey

Image of Orla Haughey

Orla Haughey

Staatsburg, NY

Academic School

Liberal Arts


New York

When Orla Haughey ’22 signed up for the freshman seminar “How to Make the World a Better Place,” she had no idea the impact it would have on her.

The seminar was taught by Assistant Professor of Political Science Elizabeth Kaknes, and students were given an assignment to write a policy brief. "I decided to write about the North Korean bride trafficking issues in China," said Haughey, "I have always been fascinated by women's right in different countries including Asian women's rights.  I have visited both China and Taiwan and have family living in Hong Kong."

After submitting her paper, Haughey was alerted to a great opportunity to submit a policy brief to the Student World Affairs Conference (SWAC) at Dutchess Community College. “I asked Dr. Kaknes if I should submit my policy brief, and she really encouraged me to apply,” said Haughey. “I was so unsure about my work, and she helped boost my confidence to be able to go for it and I got in.”

"Orla is a uniquely excellent student," said Kaknes. "Her passion for global affairs—particularly the rights of women around the world—motivates her consistent, diligent preparation for class and her energy in her coursework and essays.The SWAC conference highlights the academic excellence of undergraduates at institutions from across the Hudson Valley, and typically is attended by upper division students who have spent a few years studying global politics. That Orla has had such success at SWAC with a policy brief she wrote in her first semester is a testament to her intellectual maturity and scholarly dedication. It is a well-deserved honor—for her, as well as for the larger Marist community."

Her participation in Dr. Kaknes’ First Year Seminar opened some new possibilities for Haughey, a political science major with a global studies pathway. This summer, she will be attending Universidad de los Andes’ “Peacebuilding in Colombia Academic Summer Program,” a three-week program in Bogota. “Professor Kaknes really helped me to find an interest in Latin American politics in class, and I really wanted to study more about it,” Haughey explained. “I found this summer program online and I decided to apply for it. I will have the opportunity to talk to people on both sides of the Colombian civil war and get their perspectives on conflict resolution and tactics.”

On campus, Haughey is very involved with the Marist College Democrats and the Asian Student Alliance. “These organizations help me to explore my passion for international affairs and human rights.” She does believe that college campuses need more awareness of these issues. “The best way for students to get involved in these big issues is for other students to talk about them more frequently. Students like to hear from other students rather than a professor lecturing the information to them,” said Haughey. “Also, guest speakers and posters around campus would help to bring light to the serious human rights issues that people in many countries face every day.”

In the future, Haughey hopes to attend graduate school or law school, “I definitely want to do something with international human rights whether that is being a lawyer or working in the government—that’s where I want to be.”