Dickinson Senior Receives Presidential Award for NGO


Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Ho of the State Department

Daniel Becker ’17 and co-founders Courtney McCrimmon and Beatrice Greeson recieved stand with President Lincoln’s Cottage staff Callie Hawkins and Erin Mas, and Ambassador-at-Large Susan Coppedge.

Zita Petrahai ’18, Managing Editor

History major and co-founder of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Students Opposing Slavery (SOS), Daniel Becker ’17 received the 2016 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The award was presented by Secretary of State John Kerry at the annual meeting of President Obama’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) on Monday, Oct. 24 at The White House.

Becker accepted the award with two co-founders of the club; Courtney McCrimmon and Beatrice Greeson. Secretary Kerry introduced the group by expressing that SOS was “pioneering an innovative movement.” The Department of Education also praised the group as the biggest project that they had in terms of educating students about human trafficking.

Becker and his classmates founded the club in 2012 at the Maret School, a high school located in Washington D.C. The aim of the club was to raise awareness of the current aspects of human slavery.

“We thought [that] slavery obviously existed in the past and it surely exists in underdeveloped countries but not in the U.S. The fact of the matter is that it exists everywhere, even in the U.S.” stated Becker. “We thought there wasn’t a lot out there [about human trafficking] and we thought that young people, and students in particular, were [a] really powerful [force].”

The club was originally a platform for social media campaigns and assemblies, both at their local high school and other schools in the D.C. Metro area. Following Becker’s high school graduation, the club was passed on to an army retirement home and museum, President Lincoln’s Cottage. According to Becker, the museum then decided to host annual summits where they invite students from all around the world to share their experiences about human trafficking and learn about modern day trafficking in larger settings.

According to Becker, the museum has taken over the logistical aspects of the former club, however, Becker still tries to participate in the organization, whether by attending the summits or by giving presentations to the students.

“I try and participate in the summit every summer…. The first one I attended, at the second I was a supervisor…the third one I had to miss and at the fourth one I actually gave a presentation,” said Becker about his involvement with the NGO during his college years.

“[Human trafficking] is a nonpartisan issue that everyone can get behind. [Our story] just goes to show [that you should] always keep fighting!”