Buchanan ’92 named Distinguished Alumna

The PDS/USN Alumni Association is pleased to present the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award to Jane Buchanan ’92 for her outstanding work in international human rights advocacy and activism.
By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist

University School of Nashville hosted Convocation for seniors and their families on Monday, May 15 during which the Class of 2023 heard from Distinguished Alumna Jane Buchanan ’92, who has been an international human rights activist for more than 20 years. 

While at USN, the two-sport athlete was inspired by the questions posed in her 10th grade Social Conscience class, and the discussions on social responsibility, human dignity, and justice Buchanan had at 2000 Edgehill continue to motivate her work. 

After graduating from USN, Buchanan majored in Russian and graduated from Bowdoin College with honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. During her undergraduate years, she studied abroad in St. Petersburg, the first of many experiences living and working internationally. 

After completing her master’s degree in international affairs and economics in 2002, Buchanan directed a Moscow-based human rights group before joining the leading global human rights organization Human Rights Watch, where she worked for 17 years. Buchanan now works independently in partnership with several international human rights and humanitarian organizations to advance the rights of marginalized groups and has spent much of the last year documenting the human toll of the war on Ukraine. 

When speaking to the Class of 2023, Buchanan shared three takeaways from discussions she has with her family on the topic of facing a world that can be hostile toward you, your community, or your values. 

“It may not always feel like it, but you have more allies than enemies,” Buchanan began. 

“When the worst of humanity is on display, so is the best of humanity,” she continued. 

“And number three, when given the choice to go or not to go, you should go,” Buchanan finished. 

Convocation officially marks the beginning of PDS/USN graduates’ transition from students to alumni. Each year a graduate of University School of Nashville or its predecessor, Peabody Demonstration School, speaks at Convocation to tell stories, offer advice, and take questions from students. 
The Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award was established in 1978 to honor a graduate of PDS/USN who has made outstanding professional or civic achievements on a local, national, or international level. Recipients have included authors, educators, researchers, musicians, and volunteer leaders. In addition to honoring these individuals, the award brings them to the attention of the PDS/USN community and the city at large. Their accomplishments serve as an inspiration to students and graduates and as a reminder to the citizens of Nashville of the high-quality education that has long been a tradition at our school. Click here for a full list of alumni who have received the recognition.
    • Director Amani Reed, 2023 Distinguished Alumna Jane Buchanan ’92, Alumni Director Leigh Hicks '05, and PDS/USN Alumni Association President Stephen Schleicher '01 at Convocation.

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