Shelina Noorali: A Political Science Major in Sacramento

Portrait photo of UC Davis student Shelina Noorali

As a 2016 Blum Center Summer Fellow, Shelina Noorali will work with the International Rescue Committee in Sacramento in helping human trafficking survivors. (Laura Parker Photography)

May 13, 2016 — Shelina Noorali won’t need a passport for her Blum Center Summer Fellow international project. She will work with a nonprofit organization in Sacramento helping human trafficking survivors from around the world.

Noorali said she chose to work for International Rescue Committee after learning that the region has alarming rates of labor and sex trafficking. “In fact, Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco-Sacramento areas are three of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation,” she said.

A political science major who graduates in June, Noorali will conduct research, outreach and training for the nonprofit organization’s HOPE (Human-trafficking Outreach, Prevention and Education) program.

In its first two years in Sacramento, the IRC helped more than 30 survivors of human trafficking, finding them housing and other services, including medical care, legal services and education.

“Some of the work that I will be doing is assisting survivors with immigration services and job training, in attempts to reintegrate them into society in healthy ways,” she said.

Noorali will also help with IRC efforts to train police, health care providers and others in identifying possible victims and getting them help without further traumatizing them.

“At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that these individuals are served and respected,” she said. “I hope to gain nothing but perspective at the end of this experience.”

With an eye on career in public service, Noorali has also completed a number of civic-minded internships—including stints at an educational policy consulting firm, Congress and, most recently, with the UC Davis Center for Regional Change’s California Civic Engagement Project.

She is the founder of the UC Davis chapter of IGNITE, which encourages young women to become active in politics. She plans to eventually enroll in a graduate joint-degree program in law and public policy, possibly working in education policy before seeking elected office.


— Kathleen Holder, writes for the Division of Social Sciences, UC Davis College of Letters and Science. Follow her on Twitter @kmholder.

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