UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On Tuesday, August 15, the Penn State Law LL.M. (Master of Laws) program welcomed their biggest class in its history to the University Park campus during orientation. 180 LL.M. students and 14 exchange students hailed from 28 different countries from all over the world, including Uzbekistan, Ghana, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Norway, Colombia, China, Peru, Nigeria, Thailand, Jordan, India, Sweden, Costa Rica, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, and more.
“As a former international student, I enjoy seeing so many accomplished lawyers and scholars join us for a year of study and exploration each fall,” said Victor Romero, interim dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs, Maureen B. Cavanaugh Distinguished Faculty Scholar, and professor of law. “I hope their J.D. peers take full advantage of their presence as each cohort learns from the other.”
This fall semester, many of Penn State Law’s LL.M. students have journeyed far and wide to State College for its one-year program.
“These LL.M. students have backgrounds as lawyers, judges, NGO leaders, professors, new law school graduates, and civil servants from their home countries, but when they arrive at Penn State Law, I greet them as ambassadors, because that’s exactly who they are: citizen ambassadors from all over the world,” said Stephen Barnes, assistant dean of graduate and international programs (GIP) at Penn State Law.
The Sutliff Auditorium in the Katz building filled up with new LL.M. students after checking in. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Jud Mathews, and Dean Barnes welcomed the eager group to Penn State Law.
Penn State Law’s LL.M. program attracts people from all over the globe, including new student, Ayodeji Oluwabusuyi, who is a lawyer in his home country of Nigeria. “Penn State Law has an impressive array of specialized fields to pick from which gives the autonomy to create an academic experience specific to your own interests,” shared Oluwabusuyi.
The morning was filled with informative sessions from course registration with LL.M. Academic Advisor and Director of Africa Programs, Kristin Hrehor, to financial information from Finance Officer Kim Wyatt, to a must-know IT session led by Matt Gardner, assistant dean for digital learning and information technology, and a library session led by Rebecca Mattson, head of faculty and research services and professor of legal research.
“Witnessing the new students infuse fresh energy every year is truly invigorating. It’s a pleasure to watch them grow throughout their time here and embark on their journeys toward the future,” said Director of Graduate and International Programs, Jing Hu.
After lunch, the large group of students took two class pictures—one formal picture and another in regalia from their respective nations.
“Orientation was a long and productive day since we had a lot of information coming at once,” stated LL.M. Colombian student Jorge Alvarez-Rodriguez, a recent graduate of Pontifica Universidad Javaeriana. “But the academic and logistic interventions by both faculty and university staff were very important to me because they made me feel like the university really cares about us getting off to a great start at Penn State Law.”
The students’ afternoon was filled with language support, student health insurance information, a Penn State Global document check-in, and capped off with a welcome picnic at Sunset Park just off campus.
Dean Barnes, who has a special connection to many of the students going back as many as seven years in their home countries, was dressed casually and wearing his trademark Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap at the LL.M. welcome picnic. He talked to the students about their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. and about becoming part of a “family.”
Colombian LL.M. student Karen Susana Montaño-Palacios at Welcome Picnic. IMAGE: provided
“The welcome picnic was the best ending our orientation could have had because it gave us a casual scenario designed for meeting our classmates and the GIP team,” said Alvarez-Rodriguez.
Many LL.M. students move on to do great things. Recent graduate, Salam Zaidi, ’23 decided to assist with the GIP program that she attributes to her academic success. "Attending Penn State Law for my LL.M. helped me acquire knowledge, make great friends, and build a network. It also gave me the tremendous opportunity to work with the Graduate and International Program, advising and helping new LL.M. students, and promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal field,” said Zaidi.
Visit to the nation’s capital
LL.M. class of 2024 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. IMAGE: Provided
On Thursday, August 17, the 2023-2024 LL.M. students boarded chartered buses to Washington, D.C. Many of the students have studied key cases, documents, and U.S. institutions during their “Introduction to U.S. Legal Systems” course at Penn State Law. The enriching daytrip gave the students the opportunity to explore the U.S. capital in relation to what they have learned.
The day also included taking a ninth-annual photo in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
For more information on Graduate and International programs or to apply, visit https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/admissions/llm-admissions.