After graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University with a B.A. in Anthropology, with a minor in Philosophy and a certificate in War and Peace, Ron Hedrick ’12 ’15M decided to take a year off to travel/backpack before returning to Athens to earn an M.A. in Political Science: International Relations.
Refugee Resettlement – Volunteer to Employee
Since then, he has worked as a refugee resettlement professional dedicated towards advancing the human rights and social justice of refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, and other displaced populations.
Shortly after leaving Athens, OH, Hedrick began volunteering with a refugee resettlement organization named UsTogether located in Cleveland, OH. Within a month’s time he was offered a full-time position as their Employment Specialist and has since been promoted to the position of Economic Integration Manager.
This past year (2016), UsTogether’s Cleveland office resettled over 300 individuals/families from the following areas: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, Russia, Dem. Rep. Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, in addition to other various locations.
What does an Economic Integration Manager do?
As an Economic Integration Manager, Hedrick is responsible for overseeing the coordination and further development of UsTogether’s economic integration programming in addition to supervising staff, interns, and volunteers that provide administrative and programmatic support.
For the most part, his day consists of providing employment services – including job readiness, job development, job placement, and post-placement assistance – to newly arriving refugee individuals/families, while empowering each to achieve positive professional development and self-sufficiency so that they may restart their livelihoods and lifestyles anew here in the United States.
This includes assessing and screening clients for potential barriers to employment, developing, monitoring, and updating individual/family self-sufficiency plans, maintaining comprehensive case management, and establishing an expansive network with vocational training providers and the local labor market in order to promote economic integration opportunities for refugees and immigrants throughout the Greater Cleveland metro area.
In addition to this, he serves as a refugee youth mentor and spends some time advocating to the general community on issues affecting refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and other displaced populations. This past spring, Hedrick had the opportunity to travel to East Africa to meet with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Resettlement Support Center (RSC Africa), and other stakeholders in Nairobi Kenya & Kigali, Rwanda to further develop UsTogether resettlement programming.
How OHIO prepared him
Throughout the course of his study at Ohio University, he focused primarily on the intersections between theory and practice in regards to social movements, international human rights development, and transnational advocacy – all of which would have left him completely lost in translation had it not been for the following professors at Ohio University: Haley Duschinski, Hogan Sherrow, Diane Ciekawy, Elizabeth Collins, Andrew Ross, Maria Fanis, Judith Grant, & Sarah Poggione.
“For each and every one of the countless numbers of times I visited their offices only to unravel a bunch of tangled ideas and impassioned rants,” Hedrick says, “thank you for helping me find the thread that would in time tie them altogether. It was through their continued patience and guidance that I began to see how I could truly connect each in a way that could create a positive real-world impact.
“Thanks to my time at Ohio University, I am now able to spend the day doing what I love the most – connecting with people from all over the world under the common notion of humanity, advancing the human rights and social justice of refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and other displaced populations, and advocating to the general community on the issues each continue to face.”