Student Highlight

Isabella (Izzy) Bohn
Tuesday, October 25, 2022

In which program are you enrolled and when is your expected graduation date?

Undergraduate Human Rights Major, graduating May 2023

What is your research focus? What drew you to this particular issue/set of issues?
For my senior thesis, I'm trying to uncover why civil society protests in Argentina that draw on international human rights norms have had success in the legalization of abortion in spite of the Catholic Church’s influence. I'm really interested in the intersections between reproductive health, human rights law, and religious influence; so by narrowing those issues down, I decided to focus on Argentina specifically. 
Which class would you recommend to other students interested in the same issues as you?
I'm taking "Our Bodies and the Struggle to Define Personal Autonomy" right now and I really like it. It's a really great discussion class all about the intersection between the human rights framework and bodily autonomy.
Where did you grow up? In which countries and/or cities have you lived?
I grew up mostly in a small town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. But, I have also lived in different areas of France, and I now live in New York City.
What is a must-read for a human rights student?
"A Decolonial Feminism" by Francoise Verges. It's not necessarily about human rights specifically, but I think understanding the decolonial feminist framework is incredibly important to human rights advocacy.
Can you describe any volunteer or extracurricular activities that you have been a part of during your time at Columbia and how this experience has impacted you?
The past year, I have gotten really involved with public transit advocacy in the city. Last summer, I interned with The Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization fighting for more reliable/accessible/affordable public transit in NYC, and had the opportunity to learn a lot about grassroots political organizing. I've since become really passionate about helping people understand how transit justice connects with so many issues like housing and environmental justice, abolition & carceral justice, and even gender justice. Outside of political advocacy, I've also had the opportunity to participate in a lot of theater productions on campus and that's something that's brought me a lot of joy and new friendships!
What has been your favorite moment in the program so far?
My favorite moment in the program so far has been my International Human Rights Law class. Even though it was a requirement for the major, I found it to be a really great class that I was excited to attend each week. The people were all interested & engaged in discussions, which made it a fun class.
What has been the most challenging part of the program?
The most challenging part of the program has been trying to manage all the readings alongside extracurriculars and volunteer activities. But, I do find that the readings for my human rights classes are the most interesting out of all my classes, so I'm definitely more engaged with them.
What are your goals (professional or academic) after graduation? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
After graduation, I really want to continue working in grassroots political organizing for a couple of years. I've found a lot of joy and made a lot of connections by getting out on the streets and engaging with people in different forms of political action. I'm really passionate about both transit advocacy and reproductive justice, so I'd love to be able to work in one of those fields. Long term, I'd love to go to law school and practice human rights law/some kind of law having to do with women and children. But, I definitely want to do some more nonprofit/organizing work before I go down that path.
What is your favorite spot to study (or spend time) on campus?
I love writing my essays in the Milstein green chairs at Barnard. Something about them makes me want to actually write and get work done.
What is one thing that your peers would never guess about you or might find surprising?
I used to be a Disney princess! I usually played Princess Anna, Rapunzel, or Merida.
What is your hometown/area famous for?
Nashville is "Music City!" It's a really vibrant town with live music playing everywhere you go
If you were to start a bookclub, which book would be first on your list? Why?
If I were to start a book club, I'd definitely want to discuss Orlando by Virginia Woolf. I think the fact that it's a story from almost a hundred years ago that openly displays fluidity in both gender and sexuality makes it a really interesting novel in today's context.