Diversity Spotlight: Maen Hammad

December 15, 2021 - College of Social Science

Spotlight Maen Hammad graduated from the Michigan State University College of Social Science in 2014 with a degree in Political Science before earning a Master's degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. Today, Maen is a Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International, where he works on cutting-edge human rights campaigns in Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office.

During his time at MSU, Maen found his calling - to fight for human rights and imagine a world with justice.

I absolutely loved and cherished my experience at MSU. It was so great to be able to develop myself in terms of studies and extracurriculars and bloom into an adult, and of course, I loved going to football games and keeping up with Big 10 sports. 

More specifically to the College of Social Science, I really liked the "hands-off" approach that the college provided which allowed me to take classes that were really important to helping me become the person I am now. Additionally, it was amazing to have professors who actually cared about me as a student and nourished that relationship, even at such a massive school. They seemed to really understand the importance of pupil-professor relationships.

In 2015, Maen returned to campus to give a TEDxMSU talk about the time he spent in Palestine learning Arabic immediately after graduating. A lifelong skateboarder, Maen's talk discussed how skateboarding has become an important tool for Palestinian youth living under Israel’s military occupation.

After graduating, I spent a decent amount of time in Palestine, and I even made a documentary about skateboarding there which ultimately served as a catalyst to the TED Talk. I wanted to tell this very human story of what it's like to be a young person growing up in Palestine versus my very privileged upbringing in suburban Oakland County, Michigan, and how we were all able to see ourselves in each other. Skating was a very cool tool to use to assemble a community and allow Palestinian kids to take a break from a headspace of violence and instead have an hour or two to just hang out, skate and develop themselves.

Even today in 2021, I am deeply committed to the Palestinian skateboarding community. I recently moved back to the U.S. in August of this year, but I was in Palestine for the better part of four years before that, and the small-but-very-dope skateboarding community is one I find really great nourishment from.

Maen currently works as a Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International, an organization devoted to fighting for human rights across the globe by tackling issues such as the refugee crisis, ending the death penalty, and police reform. There, he works on many different causes, but his primary focus is on Israel/Palestine and the Middle East.

After earning my Master's degree in 2017, I applied to the job at Amnesty International where I currently serve as a Regional Campaigner. A lot of my day-to-day work involves developing strategies and campaigns for our research. We are the biggest human rights movement in the world, we have about 10 million supporters, and we have chapters virtually everywhere - there's probably even an Amnesty chapter at MSU! I work on campaigns focused on Israel-Palestine as well as other thematic cases in business and human rights for example.

My work with Amnesty all stemmed from the trip I took to Palestine after I graduated. The long story is that after I graduated, I had a full ride to go to law school - but I had a change of heart. 


As all of us grapple with information overload, it can be hard to keep up with all of the news and conflicts happening around the world. In honor of Human Rights Awareness Month, Maen hopes to educate others on crises that are happening around the world - including in the United States - that often get overlooked.

In 2020, I was living in Palestine and watching the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent protests unfold from abroad. It was extremely concerning to see how many predominantly black and brown people are killed by police in this country, because this is a major human rights violation that I think Americans are just starting to reckon with. Because I grew up in America, and my education from U.S. public schools dictated my worldview, it's a helpful reminder to see how blatant this problem is from an international perspective

Finally, Maen tells us ways that each of us can work to advance human rights around the world every single day. 

One thing everyone can do is become a member of any sort of collective that's working to propel human rights forward, such as Amnesty International. Speak up for those who need voices, join a demonstration, organize a strike - it all matters! Before I joined Amnesty, I used to think, what good does signing a petition actually do? But, in the case regarding the injured Palestinian journalist, we were successful due to enough people signing a petition and sending emails. Don't ever think small efforts are not enough - everything adds up to cumulative change. 

I know MSU is an amazing space that has unbelievable communities, groups, conversations, discussions and dialogues happening all at the same time, so take advantage of that and share your voice to propel that forward. This is especially important if you are someone that has privilege. My worldview was very much shaped through my time at MSU, which has progressed me to think about the world as a place where equality and justice and dignity are realities for everyone, everywhere. 

Learn more about Maen's work with Amnesty International here.


Read more:

Diversity Champion

Diversity Champion 
Dr. Eric Montgomery

Dr. Eric Montgomery, an adviser in the MSU College of Social Science’s Peace and Justice Studies, is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology who has dedicated his career to the study of peace, conflict, and human rights.

Learn More

Diversity Torch

Diversity Torch
Harnoor Kaur

Harnoor Kaur is a third-year MSU political science and criminal justice major whose work on violence against the trans community, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and international law has won the respect of her classmates and professor in her ANP 321: Human Rights course.

Learn More

Diversity Matters

Diversity Matters

We strive to cultivate an inclusive and welcoming college environment that celebrates a diversity of people, ideas, and perspectives.

Learn More