Our Students

Giada Lepore (Italy)

Ms. Lepore received her Law Degree from the University of Tor Vergata in Rome. She has collaborated in research programs within the University of Tor Vergata in the field of human rights and economy, and she has also worked as a junior assistant in a consulting firm assisting in the drafting of projects and programmes on development co-operation and in preparing procurement of International Institutions like EU, UNDP, UNOPS.

“I can say that the LL.M Program in Intercultural Human Rights is a top-quality program in the human rights field: the professors, coming from all the most important international organizations and worldwide academic institutions, have allowed me to develop a concept of human dignity outside of the ‘traditional western perspective.’ The presence students from about 17 countries in our class make the experience that I'm living inestimable and rich of connections with different personal histories, views and values.”

Mercedes Pinckney (North Carolina, U.S.A.)

Ms. Pinckney is a licensed North Carolina attorney and a Graduate Fellow with St. Thomas University's Human Trafficking Academy. Upon graduation, she intends to focus on the fight against modern-day slavery, also known as human trafficking.

"To be able to participate in such an amazing program is an honor. The expertise of the distinguished professors that teach in this program is immeasurable. The program covers a wealth of information to prepare future leaders to fight for human rights. The diverse population of students and professors truly make this program intercultural."

Maritza DiStefano Pasternack (Ecuador)

Ms. Pasternack has a Law Degree and a Doctorate in Public Administration from the Catholic University of Cuenca. For many years she was involved in Corporate – Banking Law, but at the same time volunteering with many social institutions and charities she developed a special interest in human rights.

"The LL.M. Intercultural Human Rights Program offers me an exceptional opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. I am very thankful for this unique experience which provides me with a first class education from professors that are leaders in their fields and share their knowledge and expertise, while at the same time provide an inspiration for the students. The interaction with classmates from all over the world allows an exchange of ideas from different cultural viewpoints. Both have contributed to broadening my mind to the realization that the fight for human dignity and justice is my ultimate goal. I strongly believe that being a part of this program has definitely directed me on the right path to achieve this goal.”

Enarda Cuni (Albania)

A law graduate of Luarasi University School of Law in Tirana, Ms. Cuni volunteered with Albanian Red Cross. Seeing the plight of the refugees, the disabled and the disenfranchised she realized that an education in human rights would prepare her better to protect the dignity of every human person.

“The LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights surpassed every expectation I had when I first came to the United States. It is a comprehensive program that prepares us fully as missioners to fight injustice and protect human rights. This program is like a mini United Nations with students and professors from all over the globe. At St. Thomas we are taught by the very best academics and practitioners in the field of human rights and international law. I greatly enjoy my fellow classmates: I am learning from them and their cultures. This program makes me a better person. Thank you St. Thomas and thank you Professor Wiessner for founding the best LL.M. program in human rights!”

Peter A. Falowo (Nigeria)

Mr. Falowo comes to St. Thomas with over 15 years in human rights advocacy practice.

“I can tell you now, first hand, that the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights brings out the innovator in me, and gets me fully prepared for leadership human rights academia and practice. Its best part is that you draw knowledge from a fantastic blend of academic and executive top-experts.”

Lazarita Chumpitazi (Florida, U.S.A.)

"I am a Florida native and while completing my J.D. program at St. Thomas School of Law I began taking LL.M. courses as electives. The more courses I took, the more passionate I became about human rights. I completed the requirements needed to graduate with a Certificate in Intercultural Human Rights and decided to take the next step and complete the entire program. The Intercultural Human Rights LL.M. program is amazing, the faculty is world-renowned and very helpful, the curriculum is engaging and current, and my fellow classmates bring a plethora of global perspectives and practices to the table. This is a one of a kind experience and the education is priceless.”

Nadine Gedeon (Haiti)

Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Ms. Gedeon obtained her law degree from Université Quisqueya. Working for the Haitian Red Cross she became very interested in the studies of human rights.

“Looking back, I see how little efforts were made to ensure and protect these rights. I love this program because it gives me a clear perspective of the role of government in the protection and promotion of human rights. My experience has inspired me to come up with creative ways to promote changes in Haiti in area of human rights like domestic servitude, the right to health and due process. I believe that the program gives me the necessary tools to be able to make a real difference in Haiti and worldwide.”

Beatriz Susana García (Colombia)

A lawyer specialized in Labor Law at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Bogotá D.C. Colombia, Ms. Garcia served as Legal Advisor at Álvarez, Escandón y Lievano Abogados Laboralistas, Labor Law Professor at Legal Aid Clinic of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Legal Advisor (Agreement of Federación Nacional de Cafeteros, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana), Lawyer at Legal Department, and volunteer Legal Intern at the Center of Conciliation of the same University. <

“I love the LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights because we now can analyze societal problems from a human rights approach, in an effort to maximize access for everyone to their human aspirations: power, wealth, affection, well-being, enlightenment, skills, rectitude, and respect. Furthermore, we are challenged to find proper solutions to global human rights concerns for the common good of humanity.”

Habiburrahman Hakeemi Abdullah (Afghanistan)

Growing up in Afghanistan and witnessing the wars that have plagued the country for much of its contemporary history, enabled him to recognize that the real victims of these tragedies are mostly innocent helpless civilians. Having been a refugee himself, fleeing to Pakistan during the Soviet invasion, Mr. Abdullah gained firsthand experience of the struggles of these victims and along with that, a resolve to be an advocate for the rights of war crime victims.

“With my law degree from Cairo University in Egypt, I joined the LL.M. program at St. Thomas University owing to its reputation of excellence, expert teaching staff and student diversity. I am confident that my LL.M. degree in Intercultural Human Rights will empower me to realize my aspiration of being a human rights activist defending the rights of all victims of war crimes around the world.”

S. Peppy Bennett (Louisiana, U.S.)

A native of New Orleans, Ms. Bennett has worked and volunteered as Advocate for Dependent Children and Families for over five years.

“Advocating for children in the child welfare system demands you have an understanding and appreciation for the global issues that affect the children of our society. The LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights helped me develop a better understanding of human rights from a global perspective. It engages the learner and provides real-world case studies to uncover the complexity and develop the necessary skills for success in our multicultural society. We are given the opportunity to learn from world leaders in the field. Throughout this very intensive program you are encouraged to use your talents and personal experiences to enhance what you are learning. I can never forget the statement made by Professor Dr. Roza Pati, on our first day ‘Remember you are a part of this program because your abilities have no limits.’ This statement has been my life-line throughout this year.”

Miryam Revoredo (Peru)

An attorney from Lima, Peru, Ms. Revoredo studied law at the University of Lima and at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

“The LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights at St. Thomas Law has given me a totally new perspective on my profession. The academic environment that it provides is warm and friendly and the open discussion class format really enhances the entire experience.”

Janelle Shoemake (Minnesota, U.S.A.)

Ms. Shoemake comes with a wealth of experience with Advocates for Human Rights, the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, Child Protection International, and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Program. She has spent extensive time volunteering locally and internationally with organizations in Kenya, such as Soroptimist International and the Lions Club.

"It is an amazing blessing to have the opportunity to learn from the top academics, scholars, and intellectuals in the diverse range of topics we study in the LL.M Program in Intercultural Human Rights. This program is continually engaging throughout the semester, it provides us with an open forum that offers an open exchange of ideas between the multiplicity of cultures that are brought together through the students and professors. I am happy to say that I am always eager to attend class and meet with professors, as every day I learn something new that I can turn around and apply in everyday life."

Alexandra Audate (Haiti)

Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Ms. Audate witnessed the devastating effects of violations of human rights on the people and how these violations got in the way of the advancement society.

“The Intercultural Human Rights Program gave me the opportunity to learn about human rights protections from the best experts in the field in a diverse environment. They were not only willing to share their knowledge and experiences, but they also valued the students' insights and opinions on the subjects being discussed. Most of my classmates are lawyers from different parts of the world who always bring interesting and valuable insight into our class discussions.”

Elizabeth Bowden (Florida, U.S.A.)

“I am born and raised in Miami, and growing up here has exposed me to many different cultures, beliefs and people. I have always advocated for human rights by volunteering with various grassroots and non-profit organizations, while continuing my education and teaching high school English at a local high school. I have enjoyed this program because it is preparing me to be a more efficient and knowledgeable advocate. Through my professors and peers, I have been able to gain an increased amount of understanding and passion for human rights and how they affect all people.”

Carl N. Saint-Cyr (Haiti)

“Born in Haiti and victim of Papa Doc atrocities, I moved to New York City and Miami were I have studied Engineering and Criminal Justice. The LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights has offered me the best opportunity to gain the necessary skills to advocate and defend the Haitian cause.”

In Students' Words

 Abadir M. Ibrahim (Ethiopia)

"In order to learn from and about the different experiences of human rights lawyers, private advocates, public prosecutors, and decision makers from around the world, it is enough for one to sit in one of the classes that the LL.M. Program offers. Not only is the learning process at the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights coached by leading experts and decision makers from the most prominent international institutions around the world, but it is also enriched by a diverse student body which adds an inspiring learning experience to the program. On top of offering an exhilarating educational program, STU’s School of Law is distinguished by offering knowledge and skills that shape the student’s outlook towards leadership in the human rights field."

Maudisa Shevonne McSween (Trinidad and Tobago)

"I really think this program is one of a kind.  The program is intensive as the amount of information and materials covered are vast, yet still manageable.  One main highlight of the program for me is the high caliber of professors that are provided for each course.  Each professor is a leading and distinguished scholar in his or her field in international law and this adds, not only credibility to the program, but also promotes a stimulating and enjoying classroom environment."

Omar Mekky (Egypt)

"Since enrolling in the St. Thomas LL.M. program in Human Rights I have found that it is offering a comprehensive instruction on the protection of human dignity across political, social, economic, and cultural lines. Basically, the diversity of the students, the unique intercultural dialogue between them, and the proficiency of the professors are additional elements that make this program incredible.
"I came to the program from the Middle East, where violations of human rights were daily occurrence. As a public prosecutor, I witnessed how human dignity was affront but also how resilient human beings are. The LL.M. program is helping me to obtain skills in handling cases concerning human rights and gain a better understanding of how they should be applied properly. I in particular appreciate the support of Professor Wiessner and Professor Pati who have worked with students from all over the world and understand the particularities of every student form every culture."

Keya Canaii (U.S. Virgin Islands)

“St. Thomas University’s LL.M Program allows students the opportunity to learn from leading academics in the field of Human Rights.  The city of Miami itself compliments the program’s efforts to expose students to internationally pressing human rights issues.  Students interested in legal work as well as the non-profit sector have incredible access to work opportunities in internationally recognized organizations.”

Leyla Nikjou (Austria)

"Studying human rights at St.Thomas has broadened my perspective. Living in Miami, a cultural melting pot, and having the chance to develop a network with students from all over the world is a unique opportunity that this program offers. It is wonderful to spend one year together with people who are planning to go out there and change the world to the better. Every Professor here is an expert in his/her field. It is not only the prestigious degree, but the experience we are collecting. I am sure I speak for all of us if I say, we won't be the same afterwards."

Elton Islamaj (Albania)

"The LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights at St. Thomas University has been an unforgettable experience for me. This program gives the unique opportunity to meet and be taught by world-known scholars and intellectuals. It is a truly warm environment where professors and students come from all over the world to share their experiences. This program is designed to promote intellectual growth to students and increase awareness on a myriad number of human right issues."

Allison Kranz (U.S.A.)

"How many times in one's life is a person afforded an opportunity to sit in a small room of people from all around the globe and participate in a discussion led by one of the leading global experts in that field? While these opportunities are surely afforded to only a small few, I am blessed to have this experience five times a week. This program allows students to gain a world perspective through educational opportunities, premier educators and a geographically diverse student body."

"In an age of tremendous technology our neighbors now live across the street as well as across the ocean. Our world is shrinking. In order to live in peace, the courtesies that we show to man next door must also be shown to the man across the sea. Many of the lessons taught through the Intercultural Human Rights LL.M. program could only be derived from the unique experience of discussing and debating with a true international body of classmates. One can learn about different cultural perspectives from a book, but through class discussions one truly comes to understand how complicated it is to be "neighborly" in a global society. However, it is in this discourse that we gain active practice today, in order to help find common ground and compromises for tomorrow."

Brigitte Valbuena (Colombia)

"The LL.M. Master of Law in Intercultural Human Rights offered by St. Thomas University is the most comprehensive in Human Rights Law in the country.  The selected topics, the quality of the professors, and the geographic diversity of the students made of this program, a rich experience for those who are interested in the protection of the human dignity.  This LL.M. has being designed to develop analytical tools to asses global issues implementing conventions, treaties and customary international law, in order understand how international matters affects the life of the state as well as the individuals."

Oyunchimeg Tsedev (Mongolia)

"I’m thankful and overjoyed with the invaluable opportunities to learn about international human rights law through an excellent and unique LL.M. Program at St. Thomas University School of Law. The Intercultural Human Rights LL.M. Program incorporates a rich array of international human right law courses and faculty professors and members are leading practitioners in their field. Our class mates come from every corner of the world and made class discussions so fruitful within their rich experiences."

Peter Calin (U.S.A.)

"For those who are willing to challenge their intellect and would enjoy the opportunity to learn about human rights, the St. Thomas LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights is an outstanding place to incubate and an incredible gateway to living a higher purpose in the service of mankind.  I think it was Martin Luther King who said, “[a]n individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”  Although humankind has made tremendous progress in recognizing and addressing human rights, it really has only just begun to address how best to respect and protect human dignity around the world.    Anyone serious about advocacy or policy-making in the human rights arena should consider the LL.M. Program at St. Thomas.   There is no better place to gain the academic credentials and learn about the issues confronting human rights.  Intercultural, rather than international, the Program provides an orientation that acknowledges the significant impact of culture and traditions on how human rights are today defined.  It also has the unique underpinning of the New Haven policy-oriented approach to analyzing law that is especially applicable for the continued evolution of human rights globally.  No other school offering the LL.M. contemplates this dual approach that I am aware of.  In addition, the Program offers professors who are experienced experts and renowned scholars in their fields.  You learn perspectives from human rights practitioners, who truly understand the history of and challenges in promoting human rights and human dignity.  You also have the enriching experience of being in a class with students from all over the world, which gives you insights into other intercultural perspectives that enhance the learning experience.  If you are someone who seeks to make a positive difference in the global condition and wants to serve a purpose beyond your individual concerns, the LL.M. Program at St. Thomas can be an excellent gateway."

Oswaldo Alvarez (Venezuela)

"It has been an invaluable experience."