Abadir M. Ibrahim (Ethiopia)
Abadir M. Ibrahim brings to the LL.M. Program the experience of a lawyer and professional who worked in both, practical and academic settings. As a public prosecutor, he has had an acquaintance with working on the frontline where one encounters both human rights protection and abuse. He has a working experience with criminal law and procedure, legal drafting of legal documents, legislative human rights impact assessment, business process re-engineering, and research on crime prevention and rehabilitation. His academic experience includes teaching Human Rights Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Legal Ethics, Law of Persons, Private International Law (Conflict of Laws), and Legal History as a graduate assistant. Scholarly publication on human rights law and jurisprudence has enriched his academic backgrouned. On top of teaching, research and publication his experience in academia includes working as the Head of a Law Department. Abadir is fluent in English, Russian, and three other Ethiopian native languages.
Allison Kranz (U.S.A.)
Allison Kranz is an attorney and social justice educator from the Metropolitan Detroit area. In Grand Rapid, Michigan, Allison completed a double major Bachelor of Science degree in sociology with an emphasis in social inequality and public administration at Grand Valley State University, where she was named Most Outstanding Student in Sociology and also given the Thomas M. Seykora Award for Outstanding Contribution. This is an honor reserved for a graduating senior who has most affected the University during his or her time there. Allison attended the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law where she received three Best in Class “Book” Awards and was President of her class. She also received second place in an appellate moot court competition and was named champion of a mock trial tournament. Allison is licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and soon in the District of Columbia. Her areas of practice include: international human rights, civil rights, immigration, employment discrimination, labor law and criminal defense. Allison is of counsel to Mitrakas and Company of Alexandria, Virginia and is currently seeking full time employment. Allison Kranz can be reached by email at KranzA@gmail.com
Mag.iur. Leyla Nikjou (Austria)
In her first year at law school Leyla Nikjou found out that she has a passion for the enhancement of Human Rights and an utter dislike for injustice and human suffering. Therefore, before graduating from the University of Vienna, she applied for the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, to become what is referred to as an “Ambassador of Good Will”. The LL.M. program in Intercultural Human Rights at St. Thomas University is assisting her to get the knowledge needed and the necessary skills to fight for human dignity. Besides fulfilling the mandatory requirements for this degree, she is working as an Executive Editor in the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review and she is an oralist for the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2010. Being raised in a family that is rich in national, religious, and linguistic diversity she spoke Farsi and German since childhood. At school, she learned English and French. Since she lived in Italy for one year on a scholarship to pursue her studies in law and to work on her thesis she is also fluent in Italian. Due to her Rotary Scholarship Leyla is involved in the Rotarian’s Community work in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Lara Skidelsky (Argentina)
Lara Skidelsky was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated from Belgrano University School of Law of Buenos Aires. After finishing her legal studies, she taught Criminal Procedure classes at the Belgrano University and collaborated with two other authors in writing a Criminal Procedure book intended for law students. After graduation, she taught Criminal Procedure at the Argentinean Police Academy and completed an LL.M. in Criminal Law and International Terrorism. At the same time, she was hired by the District Attorney to help with the investigation of the bombing of the AMIA, a Jewish Mutual Association, where 85 people were killed in 1994. She was subsequently hired as an attorney for the Argentinean Government to work for the Intelligence Agency investigating Federal Crimes such as Drug Trafficking and Kidnappings. In 2005, she decided to pursue her legal studies in the United States and enrolled in the Law School at St. Thomas University School of Law. In 2009, she chose St. Thomas University again to further her education After graduation, she will be moving to The Hague to collaborate with the prosecution of the individuals allegedly responsible for the terrorist attack that occurred in Argentina 1994 which will be brought to the International Criminal Court.
Peter Calin (U.S.A.)
Peter Calin is a graduate of Cornell University, where he received a JD degree from the Law School and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business. His undergraduate studies were at the University of Michigan and Temple University in Philadelphia. Among his significant practical accomplishments, he includes: being appointed campus Judicial Advisor by the Cornell President; the start-up, staffing and management of a regional tax office for a major Fortune 100 company; leadership, management and coordination of a high-profile bid to develop a 5-star resort hotel; and starting his own successful financial services business. Peter speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian. He prides himself in his language acumen and intercultural sensitivities. He has excellent interpersonal and relationship-building skills, as well as a diversity of legal and business experiences, including extensive international business and travel experiences, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. He loves reading, travel, culture and languages, plays Go, enjoys fitness and practices yoga.
Abby Lund (U.S.A.)
Abby Lund is from Connecticut, and she graduated with a BA in Music and a minor in Human Rights from the University of Connecticut. She developed a desire to join the LL.M. program at St. Thomas University because of the reputation of the Program and for experience she would gain from being taught by experts and decision makers from all parts of the world. She has been given the opportunity to pursue her interest in Indigenous rights this summer and fall. She will be participating in an internship at the Western Shoshone Defense Project in Nevada where she will be assisting with the claims of the Shoshone Peoples to stop the US government from destroying their traditional homelands in order to expand their mining revenues. Abby is part of a student association known as ‘Law Students for Human Rights’ at St. Thomas University. She is confident that this program will provide her with the knowledge she needs to be able to pursue a career in indigenous rights, both at the grassroots level or at the international level. In her opinion, indigenous rights are often overlooked in the field of human rights, and it is our job to work to ensure that indigenous groups know what their rights are so that they are able to stand for their own rights.
Keya Canaii (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Keya Canaii was born and raised on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Psychology. After an incredibly rewarding experience studying the criminal tribunal for the leaders of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia with the School for International Training and Documentation Center of Cambodia, Keya spent the next year traveling throughout Europe and Northern Africa taking part in different projects of humanitarian nature. She has worked for the Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the 5th Constitutional Convention of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is currently interning with the International Rescue Committee here in Miami. After graduating from St. Thomas University’s LL. M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, she hopes to pursue a career in humanitarian work and eventually attain a Doctorate in peace and conflict resolution.
Omar Mekky (Egypt)
Omar A. Mekky earned an LL.B. from Alexandria University, School of Law. He worked as an attorney for two years in the prominent Samir-Hafez law firm, and is currently employed as a public prosecutor for the Egyptian Ministry of Justice. His responsibilities as a public prosecutor included: the investigation in several criminal cases, attending court sessions as a representative of the prosecution, and supervising the police stations and jails. This experience led him to specialize increasingly in human rights related with the criminal justice system. He was selected to attend several international humanitarian law training courses held by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Arab States in the Middle East. Ranking first in most of these courses he was trained for and earned a certificate as a trainer in this field. Deciding to pursue his studies in human rights, he joined the Intercultural Human Rights Program in St. Thomas University, School of Law. He is confident that this will help him to obtain skills in handling cases concerning human rights and gain a better understanding of how they should be applied properly.
Maudisa Shevonne McSween (Trinidad and Tobago)
Maudisa Shevonne McSween hails from the beautiful twin nation Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, West Indies. Maudisa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and then earned her Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. Maudisa’s lifelong dream is to work in the human rights field, specifically in the areas of employment, civil rights, and disability discrimination. Maudisa aspires to work in the policy development field to promote and encourage stricter standards and greater protection for human rights in her home country and throughout the Caribbean. Maudisa enjoys travelling, visiting new places, experiencing new cultures, and occasionally escaping into the fictional world of literature. She especially enjoys spending time and “liming” with family and friends. Maudisa is serving as the LL.M. Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review at St. Thomas University, responsible for making editorial decisions for the upcoming law review issue.
Oswaldo Alvarez (Venezuela)
Oswaldo Alvarez was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and living also in Suriname, Colombia and Brazil. He studied law in Universidade Federal do Estado do Para (Federal University of the State do Para), in Belem, Brasil and received his law degree in "Universidad Catolica Andres Bello" (Catholic University Andres Bello), in Caracas, Venezuela. He engaged in private practice and commercial litigation, assisting small companies and some subsidiaries of foreign firms based in his home country. He is currently residing in Florida where he learned about the St. Thomas University LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights and the purpose it pursued. Finding a program with the highest level of academic excellence and a deep interest in respect for human dignity has been of great significance for him. He is thrilled for pursuing an LL.M. that will allow him to strive in the defense and protection of fundamental rights of human beings in all their dimensions. Participating in this experience has opened a big window for Alvarez and has renewed his interest in the law in a different light. It has been a real privilege which he hopes many others will share.
Benjy Delian (Haiti)
Benjy Delian is a native of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. She currently works at Sternberg & Hedler, P.A., a private law firm, as a Director of Client Relations. Due to her experience in the legal field and her passion for people’s rights, she has been actively engaged in her community. She created a weekly radio program, The Benjy Show, which she hosted and produced with the intention of helping families in crisis. The program gave her the opportunity to become an advocate and trustworthy speaker for the Haitian community. She further engaged in legal advocacy work, producing The Legal Corner which is currently airing. The purpose of this radio talk show is to provide legal advice to her fellow Haitians assisted by a legal team. She identifies the community needs along with the legal experts and offer solutions to them. Ms. Delian is able to breach the gap between American culture and the disenfranchised minority group that she feels for. After graduation from the LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights, she aspires to become a human rights lawyer and to be politically involved in South Florida.
Oyunchimeg Tsedev (Mongolia)
Oyuna was born in Ulan-Bator, Mongolia. She earned an LL.B from the Mongolian National University, School of Law, specializing in administrative law. Oyuna completed her majoring training at The City Mayor Office and Governor Office of the Capital city of Mongolia, Ulan-Bator. She worked in Mongol Post Bank before attending at English language course in Dublin, Ireland. Oyuna joined Mongolian Properties L.L.C. as a Legal Advisor and Senior Real Estate Agent. She benefited from the experience she gained at Mongolian Properties, which works closely with overseas relocation companies and primarily caters to large organizations with housing needs and assists with all types of property transactions, tourism and mining properties. She holds BBA from the Institute of Finance and Economics and she worked as Executive director of Onlinecard L.L.C. before coming to Miami.
Jose M. Faverola (Venezuela)
Jose M. Faverola was born in Caracas, Venezuela and went to school in Georgetown Preparatory School in Rockville, Maryland. He studied law at the prestigious Andres Bello Catholic University, in Caracas, Venezuela. After becoming an attorney admitted to practice law in Venezuela, he founded a law firm dedicated to the representation of socially disadvantaged groups and individuals. Jose is actively involved as an affiliate with the International Law section of the Florida Bar, and is also part of The Florida Justice Association as an out-of-State member. He has served as a Judge in the Jessup Cup of The National Law Student Association and has written many news paper articles covering social issues relating to the protection of the economically disadvantaged members of society. Jose is one of the founders of Global Protection Network (GPN), a non-for-profit organization aimed at helping victims of human rights violations. Jose is employed by the renowned international Professional Association of Krupnick Campbell Malone, et al., where he is involved with cases of global social importance, defending persons against the transgressions of transnational conglomerates and working on environmental law cases.
Brigitte Valbuena (Colombia)
Brigitte Valbuena was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She obtained her J.D from La Gran Colombia University. She worked for the Prosecutor’s Office in the Appeals Section as an assistant prosecutor studying and reviewing high profile cases involving serious violations of human rights. During her time in Law School and after her graduation, Colombia was facing a national tragedy marked with violence, drug trafficking, kidnapping, terrorism, displacement of people, widespread homicide, and violation of indigenous people’s rights. Being a witness of the social tragedy and decomposition that Colombians were living in, she became interested in the study of international law and human rights. Currently Brigitte works at the Office the State Attorney, 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County at the Legal Affairs and Appeals Division as a Paralegal. Once Brigitte graduates from the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, she will pursue a career in the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor’s Office.
Andrea Franco (Colombia)
Andrea Franco, was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. She is a lawyer with experience in diverse areas of law such as, financial, commercial, civil, and family law. She has had the opportunity to have been involved with Non-Profit Organizations and entities that manage and develop community oriented programs. Andrea feels that she is very fortunate to study in the LL.M. Program of St. Thomas University School of Law, which has enriched her knowledge of human rights and international law and provided her with invaluable professional and personal insight into the experience of colleagues and professors from around the world.
Elton Islamaj (Albania)
Elton Islamaj was born and grew up in Albania. His professional career took a turn towards human rights when he started work as a training and field coordinator for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Tirana, Albania. In order to make better use of the thinking, leading, and training skills that he acquired while in NDI he established a non-governmental organization, The Bridge Center- Qendra URA. Among other endeavors the Bridge Center implemented a project “Inform and Participate” which aimed toward building a stronger relationship between citizens and local government, a project funded by the Balkan Trust. His growing interest in relationships between citizens and government encouraged him to pursue his studies in law at the Eastern European University in Tetovo, Macedonia, a prestigious school in the region.
>Kemarr Latoya Brown (Jamaica)
A national of Jamaica as a child, Kemarr L. Brown aspired to become an attorney in order to aid in the reconstruction of the judicial infrastructure of her country as well as bring awareness to defenseless Jamaican citizens whose fundamental rights are violated on a daily basis. She completed a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science at St. Thomas University. She has also acquired two minors in Mass Communications Arts and International Business at the St. Thomas University. Several months prior to concluding her undergraduate career she was introduced to St. Thomas University School of Law LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights Program by advisor. Upon being admitted in this acclaimed post-graduate program she has set her course to become a human rights activist particularly focusing on the region of the Caribbean. She is currently associated with two renowned non-profit organizations, namely December of Dreams and International Rescue Committee, where she facilitates the work of both organizations by requesting grants from local legislators for funds intended for schools in Latin America and the Caribbean. As an intern with an immigration firm, the Law Office of Florence Chamberlin P.A., she assists attorneys in representing immigrants in courts proceedings, as well as offering legal assistance to Haitian refugees.
Monica Stone (Colombia)
Monica Stone was born in Bogota, Colombia, where she grew up and lived until she came to live to the United States. She studied law at the Sabana University, where she received her LL.B. She worked for the government in Colombia, in the office of the High Commissioner for the Peace, in the process of demobilization of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) an illegal paramilitary organization. As part of her duties she was sent into the rural country areas, to finalize peace agreements with members of the organization. During this period she had started a Masters program in Commercial Law, which she completed in 2008. She is pursuing higher education at St. Thomas University in the Intercultural Human Rights Program while at the same time preparing for the American Bar Examination.
Soeurette Michel (Haiti)
Soeurette Michel’s interest in law began when she was involved in community service at her Church, St. James Catholic Church in Orlando. There, she learned that many people, especially immigrants, were in great need for assistance when dealing with legal matters. So she decided to take up her dream of becoming an attorney. Over the years, she has come to realize that positive changes can only be accomplished through direct participation in one’s community. The concept of everyone living in harmony by helping each other is one of the major catalysts in her decision to become involved in the legal system. When she completes the program, she especially would love to get involved in helping people in the Haitian community, a sector that is ill-represented as a result of the language barrier.
Dante Lendechy Cornejo (Mexico)
Dante Lendechy Cornejo was born in Mexico City and studied law at the Marist University (Universidad Marista) in Mexico City. Dante decided to enroll in the LL.M. Program on Human Rights at St. Thomas University because, while practicing criminal law in his country he was in constant contact with and developed a liking towards questions related to human rights, especially the rights of victims and defendants in criminal proceedings. He aspires to work in the field of immigration law especially in regards to its implications to human rights in the United States.
Omar Christian (Jamaica)
Omar Christian who is of a Jamaican background has a degree in political science, interdisciplinary studies, and a minor in sociology. He is a licensed real estate agent. Omar aspires to work hard to establish himself as a successful Black American and become an aspiration to and help young children who are underprivileged and believe they cannot elevate themselves. Omar has set his future toward pursuing a career in children’s rights and particularly their Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Lilia de la Torre (Colombia)
Lilia de la Torre earned a J.D. degree in the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogotá, Colombia. Her professional experience in Colombia includes: engagement with analysis and research at the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce, for the modification and amendment of Consumer Rights Law; carrying out family law seminars for psychology students, in the St. Thomas University of Bogota; taking part in the creation and development of workshops to familiarize high school students to the new Colombian Constitution and its social, political, and economic impact in society. Lilia worked as an Immigration Case Manager in the Feldenkrais Law P.A., where she was responsible for the Immigration Department and case management with Clients. She was employed in the Immigration Law Office as an Immigration Paralegal; worked as an attorney at teh Transportadora Maritima Grancolombiana (Bogota-Colombia) where she was in charge of the Legal Documentation Department. In Vernot Abogados Ltda., she worked as an Associate Attorney in family law. She has also drafted and filed lawsuits, in civil, commercial and family law and provided legal opinions in commercial, labor, civil and family law. She has also worked in assisting the Trademark Department in filing lawsuits and complaints at the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce.
Jessica Madsen (U.S.A.)
Jessica Madison graduated from Rutgers University with a B.S. in Administration of Justice and a Minor in Women’s Studies. After teaching English in China for a year, she returned to Rutgers to complete a Masters degree in social work where her desire to advocate for the rights of others on a grander scale began to flourish. The opportunities St. Thomas University School of Law provided to her created the perfect outlet to utilize both her passion and commitment to become catalytic in her efforts to strive for the betterment of humanity. After the completion of her first year, she worked closely with human rights attorneys at the St. Thomas University Human Rights Institute who were seeking protection for asylum seekers from Haiti. She participated in a summer abroad program in The Hague to study international law and the courts. During her second year of law school, she was a judicial clerk in the United States District Court Southern District of Florida and an intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She continued her education at St. Thomas in the LL.M. program because of its world renowned Intercultural Human Rights program that is dedicated to effecting global change in the area of human rights and dignity.
Montenegro, LL.M. 2004
With my LL.B. degree from the University of Montenegro, School of Law, I entered St. Thomas University’s LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights in 2003. Coming from the Balkans, from ex-Yugoslavia, where the violation of human rights was common behavior in the 1990s, I had a strong motivation and a huge interest in developing my knowledge in this field. Particularly interested in understanding the reasons for the human rights violations in the first place, I tried to learn how to prevent them and to protect against them in my own country, which became independent in 2006.
St. Thomas’ LL.M. Program helped me to realize the value of human life and the beauty of difference. The students from different parts of the world and their experiences changed me for life. My year at the St. Thomas University was my greatest experience and helped me to continue to build my life and my career in the most qualitative way.
Thanks to the knowledge I received at St. Thomas University, today, I work in the Council of Europe and I am a member of the team that provides assistance in developing the Montenegrin legal framework and as well helps paving the way of Montenegro to membership in the European Union.
The intellectual framework I received in the LL.M. Program was key to excelling in this work. Being privileged to be present at the creation of an entirely new legal system, I most appreciate the unique guidance provided by the intercultural program’s focus on analyzing societal problems in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary way and to developing solutions in line with the ideal of a global public order of human dignity.
Madhurima Boyapati Paturi
India, LL.M. 2006
Coming from India, I was watching and listening to the stories about child labor, bride burnings and dowry deaths that beset my country. I cared especially for those who are unaware about their legal rights and who don’t have support. Moved by my passion for women and children rights, I knew I had to study Human Rights. I think Human Rights have to be always protected; that is the basic foundation of law. The world renowned members of the faculty who are dedicated experts in the field of human rights are the main reason I chose St. Thomas University’s LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights to receive that education.
I have been practicing Immigration Law since graduating from the LL.M. Program. I represent immigrants before immigration courts and other officials, as well as in centers of detention. I am working constantly with refugees and aliens who are trying to reunite with their families. A client’s success is a source of immense happiness. The LL.M. program taught me how important it is to make people aware of Human Rights and the issues that necessitate them. I constantly work on researching how Human Rights are applicable to the local circumstances and cultural traditions of countries such as India. I am involved in bringing awareness to these issues and their potential solutions by writing articles, speaking at conferences and volunteering with nonprofit organizations. At St. Thomas, I had great opportunities and found enormous encouragement. I was a staff editor of the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, I served as a Vice President of Women United for Human Rights and presented papers in international conferences.
When you walk into the LL.M. office, you see a world map, which points out where all the students are from. It was filled with colorful pins denoting the students coming from almost all the countries to study in the St. Thomas LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights Program. Foreign students are highly encouraged in this program, which is so unique and is definitely a great platform to know about other countries cultures and Human Rights issues. The program is the intellectual hub for the human rights activities at the Law School, as it coordinates speakers, the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, the Ferrell Human Rights Moot Court Competition, and cooperates with student groups, faculty and human rights organizations. The directors, Professor Wiessner and Professor Pati, are role models for all of us, as they are constantly involved in the theory and practice of cutting-edge human rights issues. They excel in mentoring students, help them find jobs and internships, and connect them with alumni and others who have similar interests. I could not conceive of a better program to form the mind of an enlightened warrior for human dignity.
Kosovo, LL.M. 2005
I come from Kosovo, the youngest state on the globe, and I came to the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights for many reasons, very good reasons. The predominant reason would be the quality and richness of the program, as judged by the content of the program and faculty.
The diversity of the student body, the unique intercultural feature of the program and the enlightening method of transmitting knowledge, guided by the policy-oriented spirit and underlying philosophy of respect for, and service to, human dignity, are additional ingredients that made the program extraordinary.
There also seem to be an undeniable correlation between beauty and science, and so the place the program is based -- Miami -- would certainly fulfill any required inspirational and other criteria conducive for conducting research or study.
Living in a place where human rights abuses were a daily occurrence, I witnessed how human dignity was crushed and human beings were brutally oppressed. Eventually I had to leave the country along with half of all my country’s population. It would be highly unrealistic to deny the impact this personal experience had in my decision to enter into the field of Human Rights.
On another personal level, I was born on the 10th of December, the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed, the day which later came to be known as Human Rights Day. This said, I always felt a personal affinity, a natural draw, towards the cause of human rights.
I serve as Political Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo on issues pertaining to international law, as well as broader international relations. I am presently involved in such processes as building up the country’s diplomatic service and negotiating bilateral agreements with foreign governments. Additionally, I specifically assist the Foreign Minister in coordinating the activities relating to the International Court of Justice’s advisory proceedings in the case of Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo. I am also teaching at the University of Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo. The main subjects I teach are: Public International Law and International Law of Human Rights.
The problem-solving methodology of policy-oriented jurisprudence I learned at St. Thomas Law School is probably the best source of empowerment someone in my job can ever have. I would have not been able to carry the burden of my exclusive job without the excellent education I received through the LL.M. program, and continue to receive as a doctoral student in the J.S.D. program in Intercultural Human Rights.
Italy, LL.M. 2003
Sara Pedersini, a law graduate of the University of Bologna, had been a Member of the Italian Diplomatic Mission to the various UN conferences, including the ECOSOC Sub-Commission on Human Rights, Prep-Com on the World Conference against Racism, and the Conferences on Desertification and on Disarmament. Upon graduation from the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights magna cum laude in 2003, she joined the Community Volunteers for the World (CVM), an Italian NGO with many projects in Africa.
“I have work on the HIV/AIDS project with special attention to orphans, street children and other vulnerable groups. The projects are located in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zanzibar. In March, I got the opportunity to work in the field in Ethiopia for a month. The plight of HIV/AIDS implicates a lot of different factors that violate human rights. I believe that the best part of the LL.M. program was to open our mind and try to see everything in a holistic and not in a purely academic way. The multi-cultural approach characterizing the program was also really helpful, especially for a European like me.”
Stationed in Northern Uganda, a place of horrendous atrocities attributed to a group which calls itself the “Lord’s Resistance Army,” Ms. Pedersini serves as the Project Coordinator for the UNHCR-funded project “Camp Management and Population Movement Monitoring in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader Districts." This project was implemented by AVSI, an Italian non-governmental organization which holds general consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna and the UN Fund for Children (UNICEF) in New York, and is recognized on the NGOs Special List of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva. Ms. Pedersini is presently working on a protection strategy for Northern Uganda, where the peace process is still in a fledgling state. Within AVSI, she also served in a monitoring mission in Ethiopia as the Program Manager of the project "Together against AIDS- HIV Prevention and Control Program" financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It paid specific attention to vulnerable groups such as orphans, street children, women, and people living with AIDS.
Ana Vallejo, Esq.
Puerto Rico, LL.M. 2002
Ms. Vallejo graduated cum laude from the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights in 2002. She is now a J.S.D. Candidate researching and writing on the topic of new paradigms in international protection for victims of violent crimes.
Ms. Vallejo is currently a Supervising Attorney for LUCHA: A Women’s Legal Project at Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami, Florida. She represents low-income immigrant women and children victims of violent crimes including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking in persons before the various agencies in charge of implementing and enforcing the immigration and anti-trafficking laws of the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Department of Justice and the local police departments.
Aside from providing direct legal services to victims of violent crimes, Ms. Vallejo provides national technical assistance to lawyers and other service providers on immigration law and remedies available for immigrant victims of violent crimes; has collaborated with other national organizations in the drafting of recent legislation affecting the rights of immigrant victims of violent crimes and trafficking in persons. Ms. Vallejo has traveled throughout the United States providing training on trafficking in persons and working with immigrant victims of violent crimes for law enforcement, service providers, victim advocates and members of the community. She has also traveled internationally to countries--most recently to Panama, El Salvador, Thailand and Mexico-- to conduct training and to participate in global consultations on the rights of trafficked persons in the United States.
In her most recent trip to Mexico she participated in a conference on youth, borders and migration and thereafter visited at risk communities—Suchiate, Hidalgo, Motozintla, Union Juarez, Tapachula, Arriaga and San Cristobal de las Casas--in Chiapas, Mexico mostly along the border with Guatemala. She was invited by the Government of Chiapas, International Relations Department, Migrant Attention Unit. In ten days she conducted eight informational workshops with community members and with community leaders about the risks of “irregular migration”, trafficking in persons and the rights of migrant workers in the United States.
Ahmed El Demery
Egypt, LL.M. 2006
Mr. El Demery came to our LL.M. program in Intercultural Human Rights as a Fulbright Scholar, the first such scholar in the history of St. Thomas University. He is currently interning at the United Nations Secretariat in the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), at the Policy Planning Unit (PPU), where he is given the opportunity to attended meetings of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Upon graduation, he was appointed to work in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Egypt, at the International Cooperation and Human Rights Division. This was a great honor for El Demery as only very few prosecutors can join this division. In this job he was responsible for investigating severe human rights violations that may occur in any place in Egypt, and bringing accused criminals before the court. He focused on the human rights of prisoners and on issues related to the rule of law, anti-corruption, human rights, transitional crimes, and human trafficking. As a J.S.D. candidate at St. Thomas University School of Law, he is developing a suggested regional human rights system for the Arab world.
Brazil, LL.M. 2004
A practicing lawyer born in Portugal and living in Brazil, Orlando holds enough university degrees to lead him into a very rich experience in the fields of law, economy, business management, and social science. He graduated magna cum laude in 2004.
“By joining the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, I decided to add the most humane element to my career: a commitment to fight for human dignity. During the program I realized that the knowledge I was acquiring was beyond my expectations. My way of thinking was reformulated and broadened. This course gave me the opportunity to dialogue with eminent thinkers who are an important part of our contemporary history. These illustrious professors come from important educational institutes all over the world. They are important writers, judges of international courts, rapporteurs who work directly in the field, people who work at the United Nations, professors of an eminent cultural level who insert you into the real context of the human relations.
Despite it being a course administered by St. Thomas University School of Law, it cannot be restricted just to lawyers. Due to its essence and excellence, it has to be expanded to all professional levels due to the socio-economic political and cultural complexity that the world is going through. We need these problem-solving tools to make the world more humane. I express my gratitude to the coordinators of this program. I have also to let them know that they have great responsibility in the formation and application of the concept of human rights. Equally important is the contribution of those who graduated. There is no world peace if there is no respect for human rights, and we all have to contribute to this struggle.”
Romania, LL.M. 2004
Coming from a former Communist country where my family has suffered oppression from the Totalitarian Party; having a liberal education within the family and being taught the meaning of “human rights” in my childhood, I have decided at an early age to work and fight for the implementation of fundamental rights in the new “democratic” Romania.
During my law studies, I have had the opportunity to start working on human rights issues within international institutions. Over the summer of 2001, I served as an intern with the European Commission; during the first semester of 2002, I was appointed Head of the European Law Students’ Delegation to the Last Preparatory Commission on the World Summit on Sustainable Development in the United Nations and further, intern within the United Nations for the Last Preparatory Commission on the International Criminal Court (ICC).
My experience with human rights issues during law school and, especially, my work within the United Nations, propelled to proceed further on this way and to look for programs able to help me to enrich my knowledge of human rights. Determined, at the date of application, to fight for the ideals of respect for the dignity of others and being able to demonstrate some international experience in the field of human rights, it has not been very difficult for me to get good scholarships from the best U.S. postgraduate programs in the field. Confronted with a very hard decision of choosing the best LL.M. program for me, I have started to compare the traditional very well known universities’ programs with the one developed at St. Thomas. I have been surprised to see that none of the other programs at older and more established schools was able to put together nearly as many decision-makers and scholars from United Nations and regional human rights bodies as St. Thomas University’s. So, I have chosen the LL.M. Program on Human Rights from St. Thomas University, Miami, Florida. I am most happy I made this decision.
My graduation with honors at St. Thomas helped me to get a place in the invaluable program on international policy and development organized by the U.N. and the J. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Thereafter, I have worked with the Romanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations – a period in which I have had the chance to put into place most of the knowledge accumulated during the LL.M. Program.
I have represented the Romanian Government in meetings of the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, UNICEF, the UN NGO’s Committee, and the UN Commission on Social Development. I have negotiated, in the name of the Romanian Government, more than 70 resolutions on human rights issues in the meetings of the human rights experts of the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee and three human rights presidential declarations of the Security Council. I reported directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Romanian Government.
My affection for my home country moved me, in 2005, to go back to Romania and to work on the promotion and protection of human rights from the grass roots. Now, I am a human rights expert involved in many European projects on Romania and part of academia teaching “The European System of Human Rights Protection”. I love what I’m doing.
Looking back, I can say without any doubt that all of my professional achievements are based on the scientific, cultural and social education provided by St. Thomas’ LL.M. Program. Its methodology of problem- and policy-oriented jurisprudence gave me with the necessary intellectual grounding for my work as a government representative, scholar, and activist.
Trinidad / U.S.A., LL.M. 2003
“The LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights offers a way of engaging the world, acquiring additional knowledge and skills to articulate political and human rights discourses. It has sharpened my own analytical approaches to thinking about a range of intellectual, political and social issues, including many of the demands made by women’s rights and minority rights groups. Learning the strategies to effectuate these rights and combining them with the intellectual activism creates a catalyst for social change. The program features amazing teachers, a range of ideas and lively debates, a friendly and supportive faculty and staff.”
Serbia, LL.M. IHR 2005
Ms. Ćorić works for the Institute of Comparative and European Law and also serves as the Jessup National Administrator for her homeland of Serbia. She has used her skills gained at St. Thomas Law School by working on the reform of legal education and judicial system in Serbia through the USAID-funded "Rule of Law" project, implemented by the National Center for State Courts in her capacity as staff attorney. She also served as legal consultant for the upcoming USAID project concerning judicial reform. In addition she has provided legal consultancy on judicial reform issues for Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc., a company well-known in promoting social and economic development to help better the lives of people in developing and transitional nations. She has just published an article which contained a comparative legal analysis on the status of conscientious objectors.
Rwanda, LL.M. 2004
“The best physician is one who identifies the disease, and diagnoses each patient, case by case. Through the LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights, I have reached the same approach with respect to social problems. It is essential to knowing the causes of human violations wherever they take place. The violations are no accidents; history bears witness to that. The wounds of genocide in Rwanda and the civil wars in Africa are vividly on my mind. With the wealth of knowledge acquired here, I promise never to give room for further violations of human dignity in my country.”
Aleksandar V. Djurisić
Montenegro, LL.M. IHR 2005
A former member of the Montenegrin Parliament, our LL.M. alum, Mr. Djurisić runs his law firm “Advokatska Kancelarija Aleksandar Djurisić” which is the only representative of EUROJURIS INTERNATIONAL in the newly independent state of Montenegro. EUROJURIS is the leading network of law firms in Europe which provides direct legal advice and local representation to companies, corporations, public authorities and private clients all over Europe. Mr. Djurisic published his LL.M. IHR Thesis related to the principle of the independence of the judiciary in the main national newspaper. His suggestions were used as guidelines by the leaders of the new state of Montenegro when drafting the documents of independence from the remnants of former Yugoslavia.
U.S.A., LL.M. 2004
“The diversity of the candidates ensures a reflection of international thought and opinion necessary to build consensus and promote a world order of human dignity. The jewel in the crown of the program is its impressive and renowned faculty. St. Thomas’ LL.M. IHR draws upon the greatest scholars, judges, diplomats, special rapporteurs and ambassadors of peace who personally instruct every course. The LL.M. candidate has the opportunity to discuss international human rights decisions with the judges who wrote the opinions and to learn about international and regional intervention in human rights atrocities from those who were in charge.”