My Story Started at GRCC: Amanda Colegrove advocates for human trafficking victims

Amanda Colegrove smiling.

Start at GRCC and go anywhere. Every former student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful.

Amanda Colegrove wanted to be sure what she wanted to do with her life before she went to college, so she went right into the workforce for a few years.

She enrolled in GRCC when she decided to pursue her passion for social justice.

“When I came to GRCC, I started in the Sociology Department, and then I took a geography class — and that pretty much changed the course of my academic career,” she said in a 2015 interview. “It was in that particular class that I came across a little paragraph about human trafficking in the world and in the U.S.”

Colegrove wanted to learn more about the issue but ran into an immediate roadblock: At that time, very little research was being done.

“About 95% of it was international,” she recalled. “There wasn’t a lot of research being done about trafficking in the U.S.”

Colegrove graduated in 2010 from GRCC, where she served as president of the Lambda Upsilon chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographical honor society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geography and sociology at Aquinas College in 2011 and graduated from the University of Missouri with a master’s degree in geography in 2013.

In grad school, Colegrove worked to address the lack of information about human trafficking in the United States by developing a model for assessing the risk at the local level — a huge help for communities trying to gather resources to fight the problem.

She was hired right out of grad school as a coalition organizer for the Crime Victim Advocacy Center in St. Louis, Mo., where she trained law enforcement, social service providers and health care professionals to recognize human trafficking and provide better help to its victims.

Colegrove now works with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Safe Harbor program, a statewide effort to fight sex trafficking of youth.

She credits GRCC with more than setting her on her career path.

“The variety of classes I was able to take opened up new avenues of thought that underpin much of the work I do today,” said Colegrove, who received GRCC’s Geography Field Cap Award.  

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