A fierce fighter for fair trade, Lina Musayev received the Manatt-Trachtenberg prize at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse.
While starting two organizations calling for fair-trade policies and volunteering at numerous local charity events, Musayev has been steady in advocating humane labor and improved environmental and social standards. She has also made a name for herself on campus and around the nation.
“I met her in the course of being a constructive pain in the neck,” said University President Trachtenberg, who has spoken with Musayev on a number of occasions about the GW’s vendors and their trade policies.
The prize, in its second year of existence, is named after Trachtenberg and the chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, former Democratic National Committee Chair Charles Manatt. It is meant to honor a graduating senior with impressive leadership qualities and comes with a cash reward.
Musayev said she was surprised that she received the award and said the prize comes from her involvement in co-founding United States for Fair Trade and founding GW Students for Fair Trade.
“My biggest accomplishment at GW is starting the national student fair trade movement,” she said.
Musayev started USFT her sophomore year with a friend from Georgetown. She said the organization is based on “the belief that global trade does not have to ignore people … trade can be informed by higher virtues of justice and morality.”
Made up of 135 chapters in Japan, Senegal and the United States, USFT “is a comprehensive cross-sector, cross-ethnic global justice organization that is not only nurturing a new generation of fair trade leadership,” said Musayev, who is executive director and mid-Atlantic coordinator.
Musayev said her mission and the goal of the organization is “to inspire a global economy that empowers communities everywhere through human relationships that are just and based on respect and dignity.”
Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political communication and a minor in music, Musayev was nominated for the award by a friend and two faculty members. She will return next year as a presidential administrative fellow studying either at the Elliott School of International Affairs or the School of Public Policy and Public Administration.
Trachtenberg said he remembers her interview for the award as being “a little bit of passion, a little bit of numbers.”
“She essentially talked about coffee bean-pickers and the life they have, and how they were inadequately compensated,” Trachtenberg said.
To average GW students, Musayev’s daily impact can be seen any time they buy a donut or coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts.
Musayev urged the University, through GW Students for Fair Trade, to compel Starbucks to enact fairer labor rules and pressed for the University to attract a Dunkin’ Donuts, which sells fair-trade coffee. She said Starbucks uses only 1 percent fair-trade coffee.
“We didn’t have the last vendor picked out for Ivory Tower, so she is at least partially responsible for us not having another Starbucks on campus,” Trachtenberg said.
GW Students for Fair Trade, which was started by Musayev, also has a high visibility on campus.
“You can see us in Kogan (Plaza) or University Yard always doing tastings and giving out free Fair Trade coffee all the time,” she said.
Musayev said she is proud of her accomplishments and is glad to have made a difference on campus.
She said, “It is important to me that GW students understand that … they are making a difference across seas.”