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Jacqueline Melvin

Class of 2011
Major/Minor: Sociology

“To know only your own culture is not really to know any at all, because by knowing other people, you are better able to know yourself,” asserts Jacqueline Melvin ‘11. As one of eleven students and four faculty members participating in a study abroad program in Tanzania last summer, the sociology major worked on an independent research project, explored the country’s environment, and volunteered with school children in the area. She claims, “It was an opportunity I knew I’d never get again.”

For Jacqueline, the most rewarding part of the trip was interacting with the school children of an impoverished village. “They had the most genuine smiles I’ve ever seen; they had so much fun just playing with sticks. I was surprised, having grown up with so much, that there were so many similarities between the village children and me. We spoke different languages but were still able to communicate with smiles and gestures.”

Jacqueline’s participation in the Tanzania trip was supported by a grant from The Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows, the College flagship academic enrichment program. It provided for her independent research project to study the Maasai tribe while in-country. This tribe practices polygamist marriages and the people measure a man’s wealth by his wives. During her time in a Tanzanian village, Jacqueline interviewed Maasai women to explore their perceptions of such a lifestyle. “It reaffirmed to me that there’s no right way of doing things. Who am I to change things? But, it made me appreciate what I have.”

Jacqueline’s philosophy has always been to support the “underdog.” At Washington College she is the President of Students Against Human Trafficking. She was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Reflecting on her study abroad experience, Jacqueline encourages people to apply to the Tanzania program. “My goal is to make a difference. If there is something I can do, I should do it.”

— Lauren Lawson ‘11

Q & A

Hometown? Bowie, Maryland

Career Plans> Child Social Worker

Internships? Family Abduction Intern at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (Alexandria, Virginia); Intern at Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence Intern (Denton, Maryland)

Study Abroad Experience? Arusha, Tanzania

Favorite Sociology Course? Transnational and Organized Crime because it fueled my passion to pursue anti-human trafficking efforts

Favorite Sociological Concept? There are too many to choose from

Favorite Quotation? As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Sociology Thesis

The Challenges in Identifying Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims in the United States

Today, the problem of sex trafficking is growing astronomically, but anti-trafficking efforts have found it difficult to quantify the victim population of this global crime. This thesis examines the challenges in identifying one subgroup of sex trafficking victims- domestic minor sex trafficking victims in the United States. The challenges in identification will be examined through a detailed review of scholarly research as well as the findings from four interviews conducted with professionals who work with victims of human trafficking. Recommendations for the future in overcoming these challenges are also included.