Victoria Gu, 2L
Victoria Gu grew up hearing stories about the Cambodian genocide, and learning lessons of gratitude, sympathy, and survival. Gu’s mother was a Khmer Rouge refugee who came to America in the early 1980s, after enduring years of suffering and witnessing countless killings in Cambodia during the height of the Khmer Rouge regime. Millions of people were killed, tortured or relocated in the 1970s, a time that has left searing memories for Gu’s mother.
“I would love the chance to use what I have learned in the Clinic to help those who, like my Cambodian mother, suffered unimaginable atrocities at the hands of others.”
As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Gu studied Political Economy with an emphasis in Chinese Poverty and Policy. She took several classes on international relations, global poverty, economic development, and international politics, particularly concerning the Asia-Pacific region. Victoria first became interested in law school after taking a course in Comparative Legal Traditions. She was particularly affected by the class’s discussion of how cultural relativity leads to different conceptions of “rights” within distinct societies, and how comparative law can be used as a tool to theorize what social norms exist across boundaries. As a research assistant, Victoria worked on international and comparative law and policy at the Berkeley APEC Study Center. In that position, she frequently researched international treaties and foreign policy to compile memoranda for her professor’s work.
Having learned about human rights through political, historical, and economic lenses, Gu looks forward to participating in the International Human Rights Clinic and pursuing human rights protections using a proactive, legal approach.
Erica Haggerty, 2L
Before coming to law school, Erica Haggerty worked as an intern for Justice Now, an organization that delivers legal services to female prisoners and works to end violence against women. She provided woman prisoners with legal aid on issues such as healthcare, child custody, and compassionate release. Compassionate release and alternative sentencing were rarely granted, and as the prisons are so overcrowded, medical problems were often left unaddressed.
“I spoke with women who were understanding, genuine, and hopeful, despite everything they had been through” Haggerty said. “They told me about the horrendous prison conditions, the abuses that they had suffered, and how long it had been since they had last seen their son or daughter. They told me how grateful they were to have even the little help that I could give them. Working with Justice Now was a rewarding and eye-opening experience, and it was there that I discovered my passion for human rights.”
“I want to assist those who, in my mind, need the most help: those whose struggles are imperceptible to others.”
After completing her undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, Haggerty came to law school with the desire to continue to do human rights work. She saw the International Human Rights Clinic as an opportunity to not only address human rights atrocities, but also as a chance to learn new ways of addressing social justice issues and help those on an individual level. “I want to assist those who, in my mind, need the most help: those whose struggles are imperceptible to others.”
Nina Mann, 2L
Nina Mann, who was raised by a German mother and an Indian father, has led an international existence. Her residence has spanned the globe – including Germany, Spain, and Chile. These experiences taught her that “no matter which country I am in, I can still make a difference in the lives of people anywhere if given the right tools.”
As an undergraduate majoring in Development Studies at UC Berkeley, Mann chose to study abroad in Chile. Although Chile’s dictatorship ended almost two decades before she arrived, the devastating effects of torture and oppression were still apparent.
“I will never forget tears that streamed down the face of a guide and former torture victim who led me-limping from injuries inflicted on him by electric shock through Villa Grimaldi, one of the country’s most notorious torture houses. When he explained his tears, they were not for himself or his fellow countrymen, but instead for the torture that continues in the world today.”
Touched by this experience, Mann channeled her energies into an internship with Observatorio Control Interamericano para la Migraciones (“OCIM”), an immigration organization and watch group in Santiago. Watching the OCIM director fight passionately for the rights of migrants, trafficking victims, and indigenous groups, Mann found her own inspired path.
“While at OCIM, I drafted a ‘Global Guide for Migrants’ in English and Spanish, which laid out the basic rights guaranteed to migrants under international human rights conventions,” she said. “Beyond simply teaching me about these conventions and the difficulty of enforcing them, this work helped me contextualize immigration within the broader framework of international human rights and a person’s right to live, work and move freely within our world.” Looking forward, Mann is especially excited to partner with CAST through her work with the Clinic this year.
Kelsey McGregor Perry, 3L
From a young age, Kelsey McGregor Perry was influenced by the example of her great-grandparents, who harbored Jews in their home in Holland during World War II.
“Working in the Clinic is an opportunity for me to embrace the vision engrained in me by own family- that we have a responsibility to our neighbors.”
“As Christians, their safety was not in direct peril from the Nazi regime, and yet they chose to challenge the perpetration of violence against the Jewish community,” McGregor said. “Many look back and wonder why more people didn’t stand up against the Nazi authorities, yet they overlook the atrocities of our own era. We too are surrounded by human rights violations, however these issues often go ignored because they do not affect our lives directly.”
While working towards her Master of Public Health, McGregor interned at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and completed a systematic review evaluating the impact of social determinants on human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Once home, she worked with the International Rescue Committee and faculty at her university to develop and instruct an undergraduate refugee and migrant health course. “I was deeply affected by my work with the refugee community, particularly by the resiliency and bravery demonstrated by my refugee friends.”
During her 2L summer McGregor worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime in Vienna, Austria, where she performed policy and case law analysis for the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. She spent her 2L year working in the Clinic and consulting on a labor trafficking policy project at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication, Leadership & Policy. She looks forward to continuing her Clinic work with CAST and the international criminal tribunals during Fall 2014, and will spend her final semester externing with the Human Rights & Special Prosecutions Section of the Department of Justice.
Rayan Naouchi, 2L
Rayan Naouchi is a first generation Lebanese American, who has been actively involved in the Lebanese community since her youth.
“My parents never missed an opportunity to tell me about their childhood experiences having to seek shelter in the basement of buildings while Lebanon and Israel fired bombs back and forth,” said Naouchi. “I naively thought the era of conflict in Lebanon had come to an end, until the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri shed light on the political turmoil in my home country.”
At 14 years old Naouchi was confused by her family’s distress over a political leader on the other side of the world. After learning of the political implications of the assassination, she began to wonder about justice for victims of the ongoing political violence in the region.
As a political science undergrad at UCLA, her understanding of international relations, war crimes, and terrorism grew, and she determined to pursue a career in International Law with a focus on International Human Rights. Naouchi served as the President of UCLA’s Lebanese Student Association, and as the Youth Leader of the United Lebanese Organization.
“Through my leadership roles in these organizations, I built a connection with the Lebanese community both domestically and abroad,” she said. “I have traveled to Lebanon multiple times and witnessed first-hand the vast potential that the country has to advance politically.”
Naouchi decided to come to USC Law, in large part to assist in the Clinic’s work with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The tribunal was set up to bring justice for the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, and is the first international criminal tribunal to adjudicate crimes of terrorism.
Tony Nasser, 3L
Tony Nasser was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and moved to the United States when he was 5 years old. He grew up hearing stories about his father’s flight from war in the Middle East as a child refugee, and those memories influenced him to travel and seek understanding about global poverty and conflict.
As an undergraduate Nasser studied International Business at ICN Business School in Nancy, France. In France, he socialized with a diverse international class that instilled in him an open-mindedness and tolerance of foreign culture and values. His experience also facilitated a deep curiosity of the relations between contrasting cultures. As a result, Nasser traveled across Europe, and explored Southeast Asia after graduation from the University of Central Florida in 2012.
“Each new city visited or stranger befriended built a stronger foundation to anchor my legal education, and humanized the often abstract field of international law.”
As a law student, Nasser interned with two law firms in Beijing, China. During his 2L year Nasser wrote and published a note analyzing the legality of drone strikes by the United States, which included extensive research on international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and the U.N. Charter.
“It’s really easy to fall into one’s own little world and forget about the harsh realities that others deal with around the world,” he said. “Being born into relative wealth and security, I feel it is selfish not to put forth some marginal effort to improve the lives of others. As a Clinic student, I hope to better learn how to efficiently use my resources to continue helping others down the road.”
Henna Pithia, 3L
Henna Pithia’s family immigrated to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. Her parents started with nothing and lived every day in the hopes that they would eventually achieve the “American Dream.” Because her family was fortunate enough to become successful in this country, “helping others through similar transitions is a very humbling experience.
“My family’s immigration experience is a significant part of my desire to work with communities in need.”
As an undergraduate, Pithia majored in International Studies and Political Science, and dedicated the majority of her time to working on human rights issues ranging from community development in Central America, to spending a summer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Jails Project in Los Angeles.
During her first year of law school, Pithia joined the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (“IRAP”) and visited Jordan during spring break, where she met with her refugee client. After learning that her client was a victim of domestic violence and unable to provide for her children’s basic needs, Pithia became even more determined to provide her client’s family with the opportunity to live a life without fear – “something that everyone should be entitled to,” she said. After a year of hard work, Pithia’s client was resettled in the U.S. “The relief I felt in her voice when she found out she was being resettled was the most humbling experience I have been a part of. It is moments like this that continue to shape my desire to be an international human rights lawyer.”
Since 1L year, Pithia has served as the President of IRAP, clerked with the District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Division, and externed for the Honorable Judge Kronstadt of the California Central District. During her 2L summer, Pithia interned with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Ana Reyngach, 2L
Growing up in Brazil, Ana Luiza Reyngach became concerned with the issues of sex trafficking and domestic violence that pervaded her community. “Girls as young as 8 and 9 years old in my hometown become prostitutes to the many tourists who come from all over the world,” Reyngach observed.
“I want to use my education to give a voice to those whose voices have been silenced at the hands of other ‘fellow’ humans.”
As an undergraduate student at UC San Diego, Reyngach sought to better educate herself on human rights challenges, including the global atrocities like the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide.
“I navigated source after source, hoping there would be an explanation that could justify the heartache we feel when learning of our dark past as humans,” she said. “But there is no answer because no ideology, no cultural difference, or social division could ever justify the taking of human life, let alone the lives of millions.”
Reyngach channeled her energies into her work at the domestic violence and elder abuse clinic of a San Diego legal aid center, near the Mexican border. She used her Spanish language skills to prepare incident reports and requests for restraining orders for individuals of different cultural backgrounds and languages. Her work in the clinic was “by far the most rewarding experience I ever had in college.”
Eventually, Reyngach hopes to combat sex trafficking and gender-based violence in her home country of Brazil. In preparation for that work, she volunteers with women who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment through the Center for Community Solutions. She also looks forward to working with CAST this year, and sees her work in the Clinic as a “chance to take action and to employ the many blessings I have been afforded, such as my education and my freedom.”
Timur Tusiray, 3L
As a Turkish American, the protests of Gezi Park deeply affected Timur Tusiray. Watching the abuses of that event opened his eyes to how mistreatment and violence by leaders can have widespread social justice impacts.
“When my Turkish friends and family reached out to ask what recourse they might have through international legal mechanisms, I didn’t have the answers. This motivated me to consider a career in international law, and to become a member of the Clinic.”
Before coming to law school Tusiray studied Art History and Political Science at UCLA. He minored in Italian and studied abroad at the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy. After graduation he spent a year in Istanbul, Turkey as an assistant curator for the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.
As a law student, Tusiray has continued supporting the arts and working internationally. As a 2L, Tusiray served as the President of Art Law Society at USC Gould, and spent his first summer as an intern with the General Counsel of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. During his 2L year, Tusiray externed with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria. He worked for the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch developing a practical assistance tool to help Member States combat illicit markets. He looks forward to continuing down this path of high impact international work.