Speaking for Those
Without a Voice
For Wertz, it was a disappointing setback. The injury has healed, and she is back to running on a limited basis. But it has not lessened her determination to increase awareness of the social injustice of human slavery and to make a difference in her own way.
"I began researching, and found there are directories of Fair Trade products that trace and document the level of exploitation in the production of these products," she said. "I also found that it is sometimes difficult to avoid purchasing something that has not been produced through some form of exploitative practice."
For her part, Wertz has made the choice to give up something she loves -- chocolate.
"I guess it doesn't sound like much," she said, "but if everyone in the United States eliminated the purchase of just one thing that was produced with exploited labor, it would make a significant difference."
As a political science major, Wertz frequently is asked if she plans to run for office. She explains that political science can be a study of more than government.
"I learned that when I came to college," she said. "My experience out of high school was that 'politics' means running for office and serving in government. However, I learned that the study of political science also means the study of social justice issues and affecting change. That's why, when I heard about this topic in class last summer, it hit home for me."
After receiving her degree from UCM, Wertz will enter graduate school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to complete a master's degree in public administration. She hopes to work in the not-for-profit sector with organizations that advocate change for social injustice.
"I guess I was brought up to be a strong person, to stand up for my rights and the rights of others, and to fight for what I believe in," she said. "There are so many people who can't stand up for themselves, and this experience has made me want to be an advocate for them. They don't have a voice, but I do."