Desaree Edwards ’25

According to U.S. Navy veteran and nuclear mechanic Desaree Edwards, Wesleyan’s compact size and focus on interdisciplinary collaboration make it like serving on a submarine. “You can’t just sit at your assigned station and remain isolated. As part of that kind of crew, you need to be ready to respond to any need — whether you thought it was your job or not.” 

As the first female nuclear-trained enlisted submariner in the Atlantic Fleet, Desaree continues to follow her own lead at Wesleyan; doing so has always been important to her. She’s a neuroscience major, but her passion is law, a combination she wants to use to combat human trafficking.

“The way our brains work affects our behavior,” she says. That holistic understanding of human impulses makes her a stronger advocate — as her work through the Wesleyan Human Rights Advocacy Program demonstrates. Through the program, Desaree was able to travel to Armenia to document, report on, and promote strategies for ending human rights abuse. Her unique perspective also comes into play when she volunteers at the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, helping clients navigate racial bias and cultural miscommunication. When it comes to sparking change, Desaree doesn’t hold back. “If I see a problem, I feel a deep sense of duty to do something about it.”