Justin Bongco, 2L

Justin Bongco first learned about the plight of immigrants through the stories told at his grandparents’ dinner table. As a first-generation Filipino-American, Bongco became aware early on of the causes and consequences of crippling poverty, and he felt called upon to work with those in destitute parts of the world to help them attain their full enfranchisement. His passion for international human rights is rooted in the moment he resolved to educate himself on the injustices that thrive in the blind spots of public consciousness. Through participating in multiple debate tournaments, Bongco developed both his advocacy skills and his knowledge of human rights violations and initiatives across the globe.

“I hope to develop the advocacy skills that are necessary to help deliver justice to those who continue to trample on basic human liberties”

Prior to joining USC Gould, Bongco served as a legal assistant in a solo family law firm in Hawaii. He worked closely with immigrant clients from various countries on matters including divorce and applications for restraining orders. This work gave Bongco a deeper appreciation of the experiences of those from foreign countries. Bongco looks forward to working with the Clinic this year, whether on asylum and immigration cases or on matters before international criminal tribunals.

Taline Gettas, 2L

Taline Gettas majored in international relations as an undergraduate student at USC. Growing up as a first-generation American citizen whose family had fled the 1975 Lebanese Civil War, Gettas developed a natural interest in global conflict resolution. She focused her undergraduate studies on security and identity-based politics in the Middle East and North Africa, and she also studied abroad in Northern Ireland, where she interviewed ex-IRA and Protestant paramilitary members. Having examined the political and socio-economic factors that serve to incubate terrorism, Gettas now seeks to expand her knowledge of the relevant legal perspective.

“I seek to use my professional legal education to create positive change in the international sphere through the international legal system.”

Since joining USC Gould, Gettas has taken every opportunity to serve both the local and global community. She helped to provide free legal services to at-risk communities in the United States through participating in Legal Aid Alternative Break, and she put her Arabic skills to use by translating for the International Refugee Assistance Project. Gettas is drawn to the global focus of the Clinic, and she hopes to advocate for justice using both her growing legal skills and the expertise gained through her undergraduate studies.

Olivia Hudnut, 2L

Olivia Hudnut became interested in international human rights law as an undergraduate student at USC. After enrolling in an international law course, Hudnut became aware of the importance of international law as well as how it could be enforced. Outside of class, Hudnut joined campus advocacy groups addressing sexual assault and domestic violence, and she never missed an opportunity to attend lectures and workshops addressing international legal and social issues. She studied and interned overseas in various countries, including Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. This has given her a global perspective, helping her to recognize that human rights issues are not contained within national borders.

“A global framework is critical in this world of conflict and destruction of human dignity. I believe that through the implementation of law, this dignity may be restored.”

Through her study and internship experiences, Hudnut has developed an interest in working with those who have experienced sexual violence, and she is particularly interested in the Clinic’s collaboration with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) on human trafficking and domestic violence matters. Hudnut looks forward to experiencing hands-on how the legal profession may operate to better others’ lives.

Roza Petrosyan, 2L

Roza Petrosyan became aware of the grim reality of mass violence when she visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial as a young child. As an undergraduate student at USC, Petrosyan delved deeper into the causes and circumstances surrounding mass atrocities through enrolling in history courses. As a research assistant, first at the USC Psychology Department and later the USC Shoah Foundation, she analyzed testimonies of those who had survived the Holocaust, and the Rwandan and Armenian Genocides. While she learned about how societal divides could culminate in tragic acts of large-scale violence, Petrosyan chose to focus her research on resistance and survival during atrocities. For her honors thesis, she researched Armenian women’s acts of defiance in the face of grave adversity.

“I hope to use my academic background and legal education to impact individual lives through advocacy, representation and education.”

Inspired by the courage of those who resisted and fought mass violence, Petrosyan aspires to join the global effort to combat human rights violations. Having worked with domestic violence survivors following the summer of her 1L year, Petrosyan seeks to continue addressing human rights violations through her work in the Clinic this year.

Annaliese Snodgrass, 2L

Annaliese Snodgrass cemented her commitment to working with others to combat human rights violations through an internship with the Initiative to End Child Malnutrition (IECM) in Rukungiri, Uganda. Snodgrass witnessed extreme hardships and was struck by the courage, perseverance and openness of those fighting these hardships. Over several weeks in difficult circumstances, Snodgrass participated in outreach trips bringing malnutrition care to children unable to reach the hospital. Moreover, the proximity of Rukungiri to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo meant working with many patients who were refugees or internally displaced people fleeing armed conflict. Snodgrass’ experiences in Uganda led her to realize the importance of the connection between public health and human rights, and motivated her to find a way to advocate for those whose human rights have been violated.

“My experiences gave me the motivation to obtain a law degree so that I may advocate for those whose rights have been violated and for those who cannot advocate for themselves.”

At USC Gould, Snodgrass has pursued her goals in the human rights field by representing the law school’s International Law and Relations Organization. As part of the Clinic this year, she looks forward to gaining practical experience in the advocacy and enforcement of human rights norms.

Lev Tsukerman, 3L

Lev Tsukerman worked as a paralegal for a labor law firm after graduating from New York University. Through this work, he honed his legal writing and case management skills as he kept track of numerous ongoing employee benefits cases. Tsukerman communicated with the firm’s clients on a daily basis, and drafted discovery documents, settlement agreements, and motions for numerous cases.

“I believe the Clinic would be a tremendous opportunity to build upon my studies from International Criminal Law in order to address various human rights abuses.”

After coming to USC Gould, Tsukerman developed an interest in international law when he enrolled in Professor Garry’s International Criminal Law class. He looks forward to the opportunity to build upon his studies in that class and further investigate the issues and policy concerns raised. In particular, Tsukerman is interested in utilizing his legal skills through working with international criminal tribunals.

Gabrielle Young, 2L

Gabrielle Young developed her interest in working with refugees and other marginalized populations as an undergraduate majoring in anthropology at Princeton University. Through her classes and through interviewing asylum seekers, Young learned about the conflicts and injustices that took place constantly across the world. For her senior thesis, Young carried out extensive field research to examine the factors influencing widespread urban youth violence in Kingston, Jamaica. This work led her to understand how many individuals did not have the basic right of power over their own autonomy.

“It is my hope to have a long-term career involved with human rights.”

After graduating from college, Young worked at a public health organization in New York, taking on the challenge of helping Medicaid recipients find medical, financial and personal resources. Her time there showed her that what were basic fundamental rights to some could be inaccessible goals for others. Based on her experiences, Young seeks to continue developing her abilities as an advocate in order to fulfill her commitment to helping others help themselves.

John Zurek, 2L

John Zurek took an interest in the complex issues of genocide and persecution from an early age. Through a school research project, Zurek developed an understanding of who was persecuted in the Holocaust and why. He became aware of his good fortune to be growing up in a time and place where he lived in relative safety, and he felt a responsibility to help those who were less fortunate.

“I look forward to being exposed to international criminal law through practical experience and continuing to grow as an advocate.”

After majoring in drama at New York University, Zurek balanced competing demands within a busy schedule, including working as an actor, director and adjunct instructor in drama. He also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), advocating for the best interests of a child in the juvenile justice system. As a CASA, Zurek was introduced to advocacy for victims of trauma and learned how to aid others through legal writing. Zurek and his family also became close with a refugee from Uganda, which influenced his desire to work with asylum seekers.

Zurek looks forward to working in the Clinic, assisting international criminal tribunals or aiding individuals seeking asylum in the United States.