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Harry Olafsen Profile

With a passion for politics and an interest in women’s equality issues, Harry Olafsen has spent his time at Saint Francis focusing on gender studies. As a history and English double major he hopes to continue to encourage a brighter, more accepting future for everyone. 

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  • Meet Harry Olafsen, a literature lover and social activist

    Harry Olafsen Profile - contentA self-proclaimed liberal Democrat, Harry Olafsen is passionate about progressive causes and social movements – especially when those movements promote equality for all people. But what he is most passionate about is the ongoing battle for gender equality in the United States and beyond.

    “[My mom and sister] basically raised me because my dad was always working, so I want to give back to them. I want to help them,” Harry said. “There is this disadvantage for women in society that is evident in politics, and I want to use what privilege I have to help them.”As a junior English and history double major at Saint Francis, Harry is focusing his studies on the issue of women’s rights in America, throughout history and today.

    In 2015, Harry conducted research on the lives of women during the Civil War era. Reading through women’s personal diaries from that time period, he was able to understand the domestic warfront, and explain how women’s positions helped to advance the overall war effort. He presented his research, which he titled “The Real Housewives of the American Civil War,” during the annual Student Research Day at Saint Francis in the fall of 2015.

    In addition, Harry received Intrepid Grant funding from the School of Arts & Letters to travel to Ricmond, Va. where he conducted research at two archives, furthering his analysis of women during the Civil War. Currently, Harry is working on expanding and specifying this area of research by conducting his English Honors thesis on Virginian women writers and how they aided the Confederate army.

    But it is not just Harry’s research and studies that reflect his interest in women’s equality. In July 2016, Harry spent two weeks in Philadelphia, interning with Emerge America at the Democratic National Convention. Emerge America is the world’s largest organization that trains and supports Democratic women running for public office.

    “I was really happy to get to work with a women’s rights organization because that is something that I hold very close to me,” Harry said. “I grew up around almost all women, so I always support and like to get involved with women’s equality causes. It was a fantastic experience and I am happy that I was so openly accepted by the Emerge America team.” 

    During his internship at the DNC, Harry was assigned to work at an Emerge America information booth, where he reached out to delegates and community members who were stopping by. He was also assigned to pass out information about Emerge America at several caucus events including the Women’s Caucus, the Black Caucus, the LGBTQ Caucus, and the Youth Council, where he met politicians and activists such as Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, Eva Longoria, and Donna Brazile.

    In addition to his passion for gender studies and women’s equality, Harry has also taken an interest in a number of other social causes. During his time at the DNC, he participated in several protests, including a Black Lives Matter March and the World’s Largest Hug.

    Also in the summer of 2016, Harry got involved with a research project related to the Syrian refugee crisis. Together with Dr. Roxana Cazan, an assistant professor of English at Saint Francis, and two local high school students, he tracked the plight of Syrian migrants to positions of safety and discussed how Syrian rap music helped to motivate the refugees. The group is currently working to have the article published, and plans to present the research at several conferences.

    Looking to the future, Harry has plans to attend graduate school following his graduation from Saint Francis in 2018. He hopes to eventually obtain his Ph.D. in English Literature while maintaining his concentration on the Civil War era.

    “I would like to become a professor because I have had amazing professors here at Saint Francis,” Harry said. “I also have a passion for teaching and educating people, particularly the youth, especially since education is the best way to ensure we all have a brighter, more accepting future.”

    Hear Harry share memories of his internship at the 2016 Democratic National Convention:

  • Interning at the Democratic National Convention