WASHINGTON, PA (Dec. 4, 2015) — After securing a Magellan Project award for the summer of 2015, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) student Katey Wilson ‘18 headed to sunny Florida to study a darker side of society.
Wilson, from Monroeville, Pa., is a psychology major with a minor in forensic science. She focused her Magellan study on human trafficking – the illegal movement of people for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation – to learn the mental effects it has on both the victims and on those who provide them with professional help and support.
After learning about human trafficking in the United States from a relative who had volunteered with an organization that helped victims, Wilson decided to spend the summer of 2015 in Florida learning more about the topic.
Wilson spent time with victims and worked for a human trafficking help hotline, in which she listened to victims’ stories and helped connect them with the services and organizations that could help them. She also attended conferences on the topic and said she quickly realized that this crime is not only devastating, but often is not accurately portrayed in the media.
“A lot of what people read online or in magazines is not accurate,” said Wilson. “Trafficking is usually portrayed in the media as young adolescent girls being sexually exploited. The majority of human trafficking victims are victims of labor trafficking. I learned about the real-life dark and twisted sufferings these young men and women go through every day.”
Wilson learned how to identify victims in everyday situations, by looking for behaviors that victims display, and how to lead them to the resources they need. She also learned how to specialize in helping LGBTQ and male victims, who she said are often overlooked because of a tendency for media organizations to focus on female victims.
Wilson received calls from throughout the state of Florida while manning a help hotline for victims. She said she talked to many people who felt they had lost their faith after all they had been through, which she said was challenging to handle given her own strong faith.
“It was hard to break down what was being said to me because I couldn’t relate at all. I really had to put all that I know and believe aside to comprehend where they were coming from,” said Wilson.
Wilson hopes to work for a government agency after she graduates. In the meantime, she plans on remaining an advocate for victims of human trafficking and partaking in anti-domestic violence events around campus.
“I would like to thank Tyler Tenney for helping me formulate this project and the rest of the Magellan Project committee for granting me permission to embark on this life-changing journey,” said Wilson. “This experience has touched my heart in a way no other subject matter has before and I know that if this anti-human trafficking movement continues to progress, we can stop this horrible crime.”
About the Magellan Project
Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.
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