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A True Passion for Life

Kroc School student Brooke Scott’s desire to help people goes the extra mile

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Brooke Scott, right, during a field-based practicum in Colombia.

The time it takes to make an impact can be quick — change your mind and you can go quickly in a new direction — or choose to make an impact that lasts. The latter requires time, effort, passion, experience, research, networking, education, support, patience and determination. It also means overcoming pitfalls to stay on course.

Meet Brooke Scott, a woman with a long-held passion for human rights, civil rights and law, and it’s clear the route she’s taking.

“I’ve always been passionate about helping people,” says Scott, who recalled as early as second grade was when she knew helping others was important. She grew up in San Diego, went to Los Angeles at age 18 for nine years where she obtained a sociology degree at UCLA, worked closely with young professionals and high school students in internship programs through the United Nations Women’s USA Greater Los Angeles chapter and was a law legal assistant with multiple L.A. firms. Everything Scott did just reinforced her passion.

Passion in Words, Service

When she returned to San Diego in 2019 to enter the Master of Arts in Peace and Justice program at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, her passion was written on her Katherine Francola Peace Scholarship application and it thoroughly impressed its donor, Elizabeth Hansen.

“I read every word of her application, but it was the opening sentence of her personal statement that convinced me she was the right person for the scholarship,” Hansen stated.

Scott’s words: “I believe that to live with purpose is to live in the service of others.”

“It was obvious at first glance and upon further reading that she was truly dedicated to making the world better, specifically safer and more equitable for girls and women,” Hansen said. “She describes acts of violence against women and girls as ‘the most expansive human rights violations in the world.’”

Scott’s scholarship eases her financial burden — and her next goal academically is law school with a human rights emphasis — and a return to San Diego and to go to USD has been the right decision to maintain her passion.

Her classes have ranged from an opportunity to visit Colombia and examine the country’s post-peace accord world to learning from four empowering Women PeaceMakers. Her faculty adviser, Kroc School Professor Dustin Sharp, is also a human rights attorney, and Scott has gained employment where her passion deepens.

“With every experience I’ve had, it’s gone from a broader understanding to more focused,” Scott says. “Having the Women PeaceMakers on campus, having the opportunity to take a class where they talk about their experiences, talk about gender-based violence and mass atrocities, it has helped shape the key components that attracted me to USD. Coming from a women’s rights perspective, seeing that they were doing something to highlight female changemakers was very important to me.”

From that powerful experience in Fall 2019, Scott’s good decision to come to USD intensified when she became Kroc School Professor Ami Carpenter’s research assistant this past spring. Carpenter, whose groundbreaking Department of Justice-funded study of gang involvement in sex trafficking in San Diego County in 2016 gained national attention, has had Scott provide key support for another project.

Supporting Project to Prevent Human Trafficking

This one is a start-up initiative that Carpenter and Melanie Delgado ’06 (JD), a staff attorney with the USD School of Law’s Children’s Advocacy Institute, created called Partners Against eXploitation (PAX). The USD-led initiative wants to prevent human trafficking and other forms of exploitation through advocacy, education and cross-sector partnerships.

Working on human trafficking issues has been “eye-opening,” Scott said. Viewing Carpenter’s research project was part of the learning process.

“Looking through Ami’s research and being from San Diego, I did not realize the gravity of human trafficking within my own hometown. The research is a great foundation, it puts our city on the map. I think being a border region is a strategic component as well. When I left San Diego I was 18. When I came back, I think I took my city for granted in some respects because I did not know this to the extent it has become. I did not realize how large the human trafficking network was until I started working here.”

She’s on-board to help Carpenter and Delgado with PAX, both from awareness and action perspectives.

“I think Ami and Melanie said it best in their initial proposal — ‘human trafficking is a complex, multi-dimensional crime, and so if we’re going to address it, we need complex, multi-dimensional solutions’ — and that’s why we’re trying to engage students and the larger university to find out what our professors and individuals in academia are currently doing on campus and how can we engage human trafficking into that conversation.”

Carpenter appreciates all she’s seen while working alongside Scott. “Brooke is excellent at everything she does. She is proactive and dedicated; an insightful thought partner, analyst, and researcher; and simply an invaluable part of PAX’s core team.”

While supporting PAX, Scott found another bridge of opportunity resulting from a conversation between Carpenter and Jamie Beck ’11 (JD), president and managing attorney for Free to Thrive, a nonprofit that empowers survivors of all forms of human trafficking. Beck needed some research help for a project and Carpenter suggested she ask Scott.

“Brooke did an excellent job,” said Beck, who is a Kroc School Board of Advisors member. She hired Scott as a graduate student intern this last summer, but when another employee left Free to Thrive about the same time, Beck, who was already impressed by Scott’s resume and legal experience in Los Angeles, hired her to join Free to Thrive's staff as a case assistant.

“Brooke is a perfect fit,” Beck said. “The internship consists of mostly grant writing, program evaluation and data analytics. As a case assistant, she is supporting our entire legal team and all of our cases. Her legal experience before grad school combined with her community work and graduate school education made her ideal for this position. On top of all that, she has really helped us build out our survivor empowerment programs.”

The latter was particularly important as Free to Thrive launched three non-legal programs to support survivors during the uncertainty and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Brooke has done a lot of work, finding resources to support our clients through this pandemic. She’s found different nonprofits who offer incredible online programs such as GED tutoring, parenting classes and anger management classes. Thanks to Brooke, we have found many new ways we can support our clients and connect with other community partners.”

Appreciation for Scott's Work Ethic

Working at Free to Thrive, supporting the PAX initiative, earning a master’s degree and serving in a graduate school leadership role adds up to what makes Scott tick. She’s learning all the time, gaining knowledge to maintain dedication to her passion. She’s got her share of unabashed fans.

“I was impressed with her years of experience working in L.A. law firms,” Hansen said. “I thought it showed maturity and commitment to her goal of becoming an attorney. Same with being active in the L.A. chapter of UN Women. Brooke knows who she is and where she’s going and what it’s going to take to get there. She’s very mature and committed to making a difference.”

Beck enjoys having Scott on her team and hopes to keep her as long as possible. It’s likely that, along with Scott’s parents, Beck hopes to see Scott attend USD’s law school.

“She’s going to make an absolutely incredible attorney. She’s got the writing skills, analytical skills, advocacy skills and has a passion for helping people,” Beck said. “So many people go to law school to make an impact and Brooke will do it through her work.”

They say it because they’ve seen Scott’s work ethic. She understands, too, because she firmly believes that making a lasting, meaningful impact requires being fully invested.

“I’ve always been someone who is involved in a lot of different things,” Scott said. “I find peace and happiness in doing that.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Interested in advancing your career of impact? Consider pursuing one of the Kroc School's Graduate Programs.


Justin Prugh
(619) 260-7573

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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