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Congratulations to Emily Venturi, a 2018 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Campus Y alum, who has been selected for the Schwarzman Scholars program. This innovative master’s degree program supports study at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University and bridges the academic and professional worlds to educate students about leadership and China’s expanding role in the world. Venturi is one of about 140 Schwarzman Scholars chosen from around the world for the fourth cohort of Schwarzman Scholars (read more at

During Venturi’s four year-involvement with the Campus Y committee Criminal Justice Awareness and Action (CJAA), she took an active role in increasing the student-led organization’s membership from eight members to more than forty. This immersive experience helped shape her understanding of sustained community-focused service.

“Working with CJAA was the most impactful experience for me at UNC because it taught me that it takes time to see results and that you are only as strong as the team and the community that you work within,” Venturi said. “CJAA is continuously working to improve its effectiveness in North Carolina’s detention centers and in its public advocacy and education efforts. I’m really proud to have been a part of that process with some of my most esteemed peers and friends.”

As CJAA co-chair, Venturi welcomed a variety of criminal justice viewpoints and contexts to the campus community. The committee invited public defenders, community advocates, judges, and the district attorney to come to campus for educational programming. During her final semester at UNC, Venturi used her experience with CJAA and her political science and economics double major to design and teach a C-START (Carolina Students Taking Academic Responsibility through Teaching) course on comparative criminal justice.

By studying systemic and structural criminal justice issues at the policy level while simultaneously engaging with the local community through programs like the Durham County Youth Home, Project BUILD and Prison Books, Venturi wrestled with the definitions of “criminality” and “justice” and how to constructively challenge them.

“Taking time away from campus to work with incarcerated 14 year-olds, whose education and personal development have been put on hold indefinitely, put things into perspective for me,” she said.

After graduating earlier this year, Venturi began work at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) in Geneva, where she focuses on bringing refugee protection into the work of the private sector and national and international development programming. She applied to the Schwarzman Scholars program with the goal of continuing to study human rights protections while stretching herself personally and professionally.

“For my graduate studies, I was looking for a community that would inspire and challenge me to think beyond my field and my personal beliefs,” Venturi said. “I am humbled and very excited to give it my best shot, and my time at CJAA has grounded me to make the most of this truly amazing opportunity. I want to bring back what I learn to the communities that supported me along the journey.”

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