Braving the sub-zero temperatures brought on by the arctic “deep freeze,” Penn State Law’s new class of LL.M. and S.J.D. students arrived this week. Orientation started for students joining the international graduate programs from Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Algeria, Norway, Brazil, Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and China. In addition to IDs and Angel access, the students got an introduction to U.S. law and an overview of reading and briefing cases.
“I came this summer and love this University,” said Andrey Rank De Vasconcelos an attorney in private practice from Brasilia, Brazil. “It is very different from Brasilia. We do not have hills for example,” he said. Rank De Vasconcelos attended the Intensive Introduction to U.S. Law in August and returned to complete his LL.M. He practices both criminal and civil law in Brazil and plans to focus on international business law and constitutional law while here so he can link between the two countries.
The new group of students includes lawyers, jurists, and advisors with a broad range of backgrounds. For example, S.J.D. student Ahmad Gahzi Bedaiwi was an advisor to the Royal Cabinet of Saudi Arabia; LL.M. student Hanne Hillestad from Norway is the Project Manager for Legal Advice for Women; and Sukru Say, who is beginning his S.J.D. study, is a tax court judge in Istanbul, Turkey.
LL.M. student Okan Yardimci, a Turkish energy expert and past board member of Energy Experts Society, said that Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law is a top choice for students studying energy law. “There are so many Turkish students here and in April I visited and decided this was the right place for me also,” he said. While he will retain his position in Ankara, he said his government expects students to use the knowledge they gain while studying to enhance their work at home. “I plan to be here for two years which will allow me to also become more familiar with the U.S. culture and language,” he added.
Xue Wang connected to Penn State Law via the online program last semester. “Professor Vollmer worked with me twice per week on my case briefs and other writing assignments,” she said adding that the online program gave her the confidence to enroll in the LL.M. program. “I am very interested in common law because it is very different than Chinese law,” she said.
Many of the students mentioned the guidance they received from Director of International and Graduate Programs Karen Bysiewicz. “We are so fortunate to have such an accomplished group of people join our program. They truly enrich our law school with the diversity of experiences they bring,” Bysiewicz said.
Amir Saed Vakil joined the LL.M. program from the Tehran, Iran, where he both practices and lectures at the University of Tehran. “I first learned about the law school from articles written by scholars and professors from the University in law and policy journals I read,” he said. He also received a strong referral from a friend who did extensive research on Penn State. “There are many Iranian students being educated here,” Vakil said. “I knew I would be comfortable.”