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Sebastian Rogers

Class of: 2013
Hometown: Concord, MA
School: Arts and Science
Major(s): Film Studies, Anthropology

During his time at Vanderbilt, Sebastian explored a broad range of service activities and interests, initially including food security, global poverty, and environmental conservation. However, it was not until he joined the Ingram Scholarship Program in his Junior year that he narrowed his focus to social justice and workers' rights. His studies in Anthropology taught him to appreciate cultural relativism and to recognize the structural factors underlying social problems. Sebastian applied both the anthropological lessons he learned and his film production skills on social justice campaigns directly related to Vanderbilt University, in the hopes of using his leverage as a student to catalyze broader changes throughout the community. As a member of Vanderbilt Students of Nonviolence, Sebastian worked on an ultimately successful divestment campaign to pressure Vanderbilt to pull endowment funds invested in a company that was land-grabbing in southern Africa. The campaign evolved into a call for Vanderbilt to institute socially responsible investment guidelines/practices and an SRI committee to report on and assess the social consequences of our investments, both of which still do not exist at Vanderbilt. He also started organizing workers and students around issues of economic and social justice through Organized and United for Respect at Vanderbilt (OUR Vanderbilt), a community union founded to ensure the sustainability of a worker led, community supported, movement for economic and social justice at Vanderbilt. The Ingram Summer Project allowed Sebastian an opportunity to stay in Nashville organizing workers and interviewing Dining workers for a 25 minute documentary in which Vanderbilt workers and community members call upon the University to help lift its workers above the poverty line. Following his interest in workers' rights, Sebastian began working with Dignidad Obrera (Workers' Dignity) on collaborative, hybrid fiction/non-fiction, organizational, and promotional films to tell stories of wage theft and worker organizing.

After graduating, Sebastian spent most of the summer in Birmingham, Alabama directing and shooting a film about the Forever Wild Land Trust for the Southern Environmental Law Center as part of their Southern Exposure Film Fellowship. He is now living in Nashville, TN pursing a career in film and staying engaged within the community through personal film projects focusing on social justice issues.