Thanh Mai Bercher

2017 to 2018
International Rescue Committee
Placement Location:
New York City
Service Interest:
International human rights, refugee rights, women's health
Public Health major, Global Poverty & Practice minor
Huntington Beach, California

Berkeley experience:

Thanh spent her time at UC Berkeley working to address health inequities, programs and policies that affect marginalized communities. She worked in student government to establish resources for survivors of sexual violence, served on multiple UC working groups, and organized to expand mental health services under temporary disability status. As a caseworker for the Student Advocate's Office she represented students with grievances against the university, addressing harassment and discrimination.

Thanh has served as a research assistant at the Center for Reproductive Rights and Justice, as well as the Human Rights Center. Her work on the intersections of sexual violence and trauma led her to complete her public health honors thesis on the delivery of care for rape survivors in humanitarian zones. She also completed the Global Poverty and Practice program, designing a project that she implemented at a children's community center in the West Bank.

Other service experience:

Thanh is a dedicated social justice advocate and community organizer. She has worked with the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies to assess AAPI health services and disaggregation in Washington, D.C., contributed to the development of Title IX regulations in California, and helped develop economic literacy plans for refugee families in the Bay Area. In October of 2016, she raised funds to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and volunteered on the reservation, delivering resources and coordinating volunteers.

She has received fellowships from the Blum Center for Developing Economies, the Human Rights Center, and the Davis Peace Project. In 2014, she volunteered with a Hepatitis B alleviation in rural Vietnam, working with fellow students and her family members to coordinate community clinics. In 2016, she worked in Palestine to facilitate education-based activities for children at a trauma center, teaching emotional coping skills. She used additional funding to develop and sustain a video-making course for adolescent girls.

For her work, Thanh received the Chancellor's Award for Public Service, Cal Berkeley Democrats' Activist of the Year, and delivered the commencement address for the Global Poverty and Practice graduation.

Fellowship goal:

Thanh hopes to apply her background in community health, human rights research and policy advocacy to address the challenges of refugees seeking asylum, particularly women.

She would like to work with an organization that coordinates between government and non-governmental organizations to advocate for programs that provide vital services, particularly mental health, to refugees.

Post-fellowship plans:

Thanh plans on pursuing a graduate degree that will allow her to work in international development, policy and program design. She is interested in focusing on community-based solutions to public health challenges and services, and will continue to seek out opportunities for direct organizing.  

Commitment to service:

"My passion for public service is driven by the commitment and sense of purpose that I have to uplift and support marginalized communities. I believe that we live in a society that has the resources and means to establish equity for people living in poverty, experiencing discrimination and facing a host of other challenges. Through public service, people with access to these services and an understanding of higher systems can challenge inequity. I plan on spending my life doing nothing less."