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Characters Unite Award Winners

Sofia Shield


Sofia Shield is dedicated to creating positive change and raising awareness of injustices around the world. Inspired by her Holocaust survivor grandparents, Sofia believes that it is her personal responsibility to advocate for human rights and ensure that no one ever has to experience the hate and brutality her family endured.

Sofia has created and participated in several initiatives to promote justice and equality. She was the co-chair of Tufts Against Genocide, a student-run initiative under the Cummings-Hillel Program for Holocaust and Genocide Education, and played a key role in the annual panel “Survivors Speak,” which brings together survivors from around the world to teach and raise awareness of genocide. She interned with both the Anne Frank Center USA and The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where she helped educate children and young adults about human rights violations, genocide prevention, and the importance of tolerance. She also participated in Humans Rights Workshops for teens in Russia, Ireland and the Czech Republic. While studying abroad she also led a project on the memorialization of the history of slavery in Amsterdam.

Sofia is a recent graduate of Tufts University with a double major in International Studies and Peace and Justice Studies, and a minor in Russian Language Studies. Prior to her graduation, the university presented her with the Marshall Hochhauser Prize, an award presented annually to college seniors who exemplify an altruistic spirit and work to broaden and enrich the intellectual climate at Tufts without regard for personal gain. Sofia spent a significant portion of her undergraduate career studying the Bosnian genocide and the post-conflict climate of the region. She hopes to be able to conduct research there in the near future. Her capstone project, in honor of her grandparents, was entitled “Challenges and Innovations in Holocaust Education: Self-Reflection and Analysis from a Grandchild of Holocaust Survivors” and combined personal narrative vignettes of her experiences with her grandparents with analyses of newer methods of Holocaust education and remembrance as we approach an era without Holocaust survivors.

In addition to her busy academic and volunteer schedules, Sofia was also a member of the Tufts University Varsity Rowing team, and a proud member of Alpha Phi sorority. This summer, Sofia is working with Erin Gruwell and The Freedom Writers Foundation in Long Beach, California. Sofia has been inspired by her grandparents’ story since she was a child, and feels that as the generation of Holocaust Survivors passes on, it is her personal responsibility to move forward, bear witness, and make a difference in the world.