As he embarks on his post-graduation journey, Naren Roy ’23 supports predominantly undocumented migrants and refugee families, many hailing from communities in Brazil and other parts of South and Central America, as a Quaker Voluntary Service fellow at the Metrowest Worker Center – Casa del Trabajador near Boston. His responsibilities include coordination of legal cases for workers, from construction to landscaping and food service, who face the scourge of wage theft.
Beyond this, he connects with local initiatives that have emerged in response to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently an influx of Haitian refugee families arriving in Massachusetts. His role explores opportunities for legislative advocacy, striving to shape state-level policies that directly impact local constituents. Those efforts include a bill aimed at safeguarding the rights of workers who have suffered wage theft at the hands of their employers.
Roy’s career aspirations have always gravitated toward grassroots engagement in social services, advocacy, or community organizing. The course “Anthropology and Human Rights: Engaged Ethnography and Anthropologist as Witness,” taught by former Haverford Professor of Anthropology Brie Gettleson, introduced him to the practical applications of anthropology in addressing human rights issues. “It also prepared me for now seeing how expansive human rights are. In other words, labor rights are also human rights. This is something the community in the Metrowest Region outside Boston feels deeply because of how difficult the bureaucracy is when adapting to life as a recently arrived migrant,” says Roy.
Another standout course was his seminar “Citizenship/Migration” with Associate Professor of Anthropology Zainab Saleh, which was based on pressing topics related to migration and belonging in the contemporary political and social landscape. “Visualizing Border/Lands,” taken virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed Roy to engage with written and visual arts that represent the experience of different types of borders as they exist in the United States and globally, including but not limited to geo-political borders, ethnic, linguistic borders.
Several mentors at Haverford guided his path. Director of Quaker Affairs Walter Hjelt Sullivan and Janice Lion, associate director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, encouraged him to explore intentional community living and the nonprofit social service sector. Roy also acknowledges Saleh and Gettleson for inspiring his continued pursuit of social-cultural anthropology. “They helped me to see the value of the social sciences in advocacy work for some of the most marginalized in our society.”
Professional life, while important, isn’t everything, Roy stresses for his fellow graduates. Work-life balance is key. “Part of the gift of the Haverford experience was being able to grow as much personally and with community life as I was able to grow pre-professionally.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.