Uma Menon standing behind a SPIA banner.

#PolicyProfile: Uma Menon ’24

Oct 16 2022
By Brittany N. Murray
Source Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

“My first book, “Hands for Language,” was about my experience as a daughter of immigrants growing up in America and my identity as a woman of color. I grew up speaking Malayalam as my first language, and I think that set me on a path to have a strong sense of cultural appreciation. My family is from a state called Kerala, where matrilineal culture is still prevalent.

I’m interested in this intersection between South Asian studies and gender and sexuality studies, given that in my culture, there's an entirely different conception of gender and gender roles from the rest of India and from what exists in America as well."
Uma Menon

This past summer, I interned at the State Department for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the Office of South and Central Asia. I served as the main policy officer for three countries — Bhutan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Turkmenistan, which were countries that I didn't know too much about before starting the internship. I performed a variety of activities, such as attending meetings with policy leaders who were working on issues there, putting together issue papers and daily action reports, looking at funding proposals, and working on edits for ambassadors’ speeches.

I'd be interested in pursuing a career related to that in some way. I'm also considering law school to work in human rights law. My general interests are in migration and human rights. I'm involved in some Advocacy organizations, such as the @ORLPrinceton Asylum Project and Religion and Resettlement Project. For the RRP, I’m an oral historian and interview refugees currently living in America to learn about their stories, compiling a curriculum and a database to understand those experiences better. I've heard a lot of really interesting stories from people with various identities and various reasons for migrating. Even in my writing, I'm really interested in exploring migration. It’s been a great outlet for me.”

At SPIA, We Care

Our Community

We are committed to ensuring that all members of our diverse community feel respected, supported, and valued both inside and outside the classroom. We seek to strengthen the capacity of our students to promote equity and foster inclusion while here and in the broader world.