Derek Sherrange ’23 is a new kind of multi-hyphenate. He’s a first-generation honors student, an activist-academic, a multilingual global change maker, and most recently, a Fulbright Scholarship award-winner.
After celebrating his graduation in May and spending his summer interning with the U.S. Department of State, this fall he began his master’s in international relations at IE University in Madrid thanks to the scholarship.
Over the last four years, Sherrange has lived, worked, and studied in four countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, India (twice), and Kenya. Hailing from Argyle, New York, he jumped at the opportunity to embark on the First-Year Program in London for his very first semester at St. Lawrence.
“I knew going to St. Lawrence would be a great opportunity, and I would still get the experience of living in a major city I was looking for,” he says. As a global studies and international economics-multilanguage double major with a minor in Caribbean and Latin American studies, Sherrange’s next adventure is in many ways a culmination of his multifaceted experiences in classrooms on campus and abroad.
“After four years at St. Lawrence, my proudest achievement is becoming a more critical and informed person through my time in the global studies department. I have produced research and articles for Weave News using modes of thinking that I would have never considered before I entered college.”
Sherrange took a gap year to live and work in Spain, where he taught English in Madrid for the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program. There, he connected with members of the LGBTQIA+ migrant community, sparking a desire to better understand their experiences.
“Because of my own identity as an LGBTQIA+ person, I am particularly interested in global LGBTQIA+ rights in places where LGBTQIA+ people face persistent threats to their life,” he says. “Spain is the only country in Europe that borders Africa, and I was aware of the inhumane treatment of migrants at these borders. I suspected that LGBTQIA+ migrants faced unique struggles at these borders. With a little research, I found I was correct, but there is still very little material documenting this.”
At IE University, Sherrange will pursue a master’s thesis that will expand upon the limited available knowledge of this community’s specific needs, goals, and obstacles.
“I plan to go to one or both of Spain’s ‘enclaves’ in Africa—Ceuta and Melilla—as well as the Moroccan side of these borders. My goal is to try to work out how LGBTQIA+ people are being treated and better understand what resources the Spanish government and international organizations should be providing,” says Sherrange, who speaks Spanish, Kiswahili, and Hindi.
Following his time at IE University, Sherrange will begin a global studies Ph.D. program at the University of California, Irvine. There, he’ll be on track to get his Ph.D. in six years. His ultimate hope is to become a professor who collaborates with organizations and enacts change on behalf of the issues he’s most passionate about. “In the end, regardless of the issue, my career goal is to play some small part in making the world a more just place.”