2015-2016 Luce Scholar

Cambodian Women's Crisis Center Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA

Varsha Govindaraju will work at the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC), where she will support the Join Us for Social Transformation (JUST) initiative, targeting vulnerable youth and women in Cambodia. A local NGO founded in 1997 by a group of women who witnessed the suffering of women and children from the consequence of war and from various forms of violence against women, CWCC plays an important role in promoting women’s rights and providing women with refuge and support in centers throughout Cambodia. Since its founding, the work of CWCC has expanded from social assistance to legal protection, economic empowerment through skills training and small business loans, community organizing for prevention of gender-based violence and advocacy work at national and international level.

In June 2015, Varsha Govindaraju is expecting to receive her B.A. in Anthropology and Law, Societies and Justice (LSJ) with minors in Human Rights and Diversity from the University of Washington in Seattle. Growing up with immigrant Indian parents in Federal Way, a lowincome neighborhood in Washington, Varsha is passionate about social justice and activism, and wishes to pursue a career as a public interest lawyer and a law professor. Varsha had a head start through the Robinson Center, an early entrance program at the University of Washington that allows students to start college early. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has actively engaged in community education and activism through various university and community projects. As assistant director for the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA), she worked with the campus community to create educational programs and to build a safer campus through bystander intervention and community support. In addition, she helped program large-scale events such as 5k runs and open-mic events for survivors to raise awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence. She also worked for Columbia Legal Services, a local public-interest firm serving low-income communities through legal education and legal support. Currently, Varsha serves as the Director of Diversity Efforts of the UW student government and manages SARVA along with eight other diversity commissions on campus, working to educate and advocate for equity and equal rights. Varsha believes in the power of education to disrupt cycles of inequality and strives to be a part of a world working towards global understanding and radical activism.