The Road to Change

PROVO, Utah – Apr 04, 2018 – The Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at the BYU Marriott School of Business enables students to help rescue victims of human trafficking—without stepping foot off campus.

Last semester, as part of the Ballard Center’s on-campus Social Innovation Projects (SIP), four students conducted research for Truckers Against Trafficking to find ways to combat human trafficking within the Mexican trucking industry. 

“For a long time, students have been passionate about human trafficking and have wanted to get involved,” says Alicia Becker, adjunct faculty for SIP. “We were thrilled to work with Truckers Against Trafficking.”

Truckers Against Trafficking is a US nonprofit organization that trains truckers to recognize and report instances of human trafficking while on the road. The group teamed up with Consejo Ciudadano, the organization that runs the Mexican human trafficking hotline, to develop a strategy to replicate the Truckers Against Trafficking model in Mexico. 

To move forward in this initiative, the organizations needed an in-depth look at the Mexican trucking industry, which is where the BYU students came in. The students researched everything from the top one hundred trucking companies in Mexico to the location of truck stops on major Mexican highways. They presented their findings to Truckers Against Trafficking in a published report.

“The final deliverable blew me away,” says Kylla Lanier, cofounder and deputy director of Truckers Against Trafficking. “The team was efficient, professional, personable, and truly invested in the project.”

The BYU team consisted of Juan Camargo, an economics junior from Bucaramanga, Colombia; Gabe Davis, an American studies senior from Queen Creek, Arizona; Hannah Jarman, an art history graduate from Temecula, California; and Gabby Weber, a public relations sophomore from Sandy, Utah. The students’ diverse educational backgrounds enabled them to develop new ideas for Truckers Against Trafficking.

The plan, based on the students’ findings, is already underway. Lanier—along with Luis Wertman, president of Consejo Ciudadano—presented the idea to the city council in Mexico City. The organizations plan to implement training programs not only in the trucking industry but also in the bus and taxi industries in Mexico. In addition, this semester a new batch of students is conducting a similar research project to help Truckers Against Trafficking expand into Canada.

But the organizations weren’t the only ones changed by the experience. The students ended the semester with a strengthened resolve to serve.

“This project changed my whole career path,” Camargo says. “Before I wanted to work in consulting or finance, but I’ve found that there are other ways in which I can have impact. The Social Innovation Projects are a meaningful experience that I highly recommend to everyone.”

The Social Innovation Projects program is an on-campus internship designed to empower students to use their skills to make a difference in important social issues. To learn more about the Social Innovation Projects, click here.

Four students participated in a semester-long project to combat human trafficking.
Gabe Davis, Juan Camargo, Gabby Weber, and Hannah Jarman present their research findings to Truckers Against Trafficking.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Maggie Kuta