Once you learn the law, what does it take to change it?
Passion. Drive. Vision.
Elizabeth Rossi ('12) had been crafting a dream for years. Her goal was to launch a career in international human rights with the U.S. State Department on the strength of two graduate degrees—a master's in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a J.D. from BU Law. She initially expected to find her primary inspiration through her studies in international relations.In fact, she recalls, I viewed legal study as a complement to my primary career objective of policy work.
As soon as she began classes at BU Law, however, Rossi found the energy and commitment of the community infectious. It struck me during my first year that I could really learn to love working in the law, she remembers. The intellectual energy at BU Law was so invigorating. Following her passion for international human rights, Rossi worked with BU Law's Career Development and Public Service Office to land a summer internship with Legal Aid of Cambodia.
In Phnom Penh, she had an epiphany while researching how various child-friendly justice systems could serve as models for Cambodia. When I discovered articles describing the deplorable juvenile justice facilities in the southern U.S., she says, I realized that I was in the wrong place. I had been so focused on international human rights that I was overlooking problems in my own backyard.
Back at BU Law, Rossi reset her priorities to focus on the intersection of immigration and criminal law. She enrolled in the Asylum & Human Rights Clinic, where she won asylum for a woman whose immigration status had been in limbo for 15 years. And she became the driving force behind BU Law's new Immigration Detention Clinic, launched in 2010. Being in this community has been so motivating, says Rossi. I feel empowered to help meet the legal needs of marginalized populations.