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Honored at the White House

Daniel Becker receives an award at the White House.

Daniel Becker '17 (far left) and the organization he co-founded were recently awarded the 2016 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons, presented by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Daniel Becker ’17 receives presidential award from Secretary of State John Kerry

by Tony Moore

Back in high school, Daniel Becker ’17 watched the documentary Not My Life with his high school classmates. Watching the film, which details human trafficking around the world, with a focus on children, is an eye-opening experience—and Becker’s eyes have been wide open ever since.

“We were all shocked that human trafficking was still an issue in today's world, even in the U.S., when we had basically been taught that slavery in the U.S. ended with the Civil War,” says Becker, a history major. “Young people throughout history have fought for social justice, and we wanted to see if we could start a movement to raise awareness about human trafficking, an issue that until recently had been overlooked.”

So Becker and three friends founded Students Opposing Slavery (SOS), an NGO that now has 12 chapters in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and in Seattle. The group is dedicated to raising awareness about modern slavery and the teen population’s susceptibility to falling victim to it.

For SOS’s work, the organization was honored in October with the 2016 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and Becker and two other students went to the White House to receive the award from Secretary of State John Kerry.

“I was surprised and humbled that I was chosen to receive the White House award on behalf of SOS,” says Becker. “The award goes to all the student participants in SOS, as they are the ones who come such a long way to learn about the issue and bring that awareness to their own communities.”

Since 2013, SOS has hosted the annual weeklong Students Opposing Slavery International Summit, at which students from around the world gather for training, information exchange and discussion about how to take action against human trafficking in their own communities.

“We thought when we created SOS, that young people are crucial to bringing about change,” says Becker, who attends the yearly summer summit and last year gave a presentation for students to give at school assemblies. “And the passion that young people show for causes is unrivaled.” 

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Published November 15, 2016