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Pathways to the Profession: Trevor Stankiewicz L’23

August 09, 2021

A recipient of the Mead Fellowship, Trevor Stankiewicz L’23 is interning at Fortify Rights, a global nonprofit that works to ensure human rights for all people.

Trevor Stankiewicz L’23 is a 2L from Oakhurst, NJ. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Performing & Media Arts. He is interested in international human rights law.

I am honored and grateful to be interning at Fortify Rights this summer. Fortify Rights is a global nonprofit that works to ensure human rights for all people. They investigate human rights violations, engage people with power on solutions, and strengthen the work of human rights defenders. I have received the Mead Fellowship to fund my summer work, which is made possible through the generosity of Scott Mead L’82. While almost all of the Fortify Rights team is based in Southeast Asia, I am working remotely from the United States.

In February of this year, a military coup occurred in Myanmar. The junta deposed of the rightfully elected government and have since arrested, tortured, and murdered peaceful protestors throughout the country. The National Unity Government (NUG), a civilian government formed in response to the coup, is seeking recognition from the international community as the legitimate government of Myanmar. We are developing strategies to ensure governments recognize the NUG rather than the illegal junta. Much of my work this summer has been focused on researching previous military coups and the international responses. I have written briefs, legal memos, and contributed to reports that help to position the current situation in Myanmar within the historical context of military coups.

The team at Fortify Rights is composed of some of the most intelligent, passionate, and generous people I have ever had the privilege to work with. Despite the time difference, my colleagues routinely wake up early or stay up late to discuss projects as well as to help me feel like a part of the “Fortifam,” as they are affectionally called. Having only completed one year of law school, I was worried that I would feel overwhelmed, but everyone is endlessly supportive and patient of my questions and inability to remember acronyms. Through their guidance and mentorship, I have grown as a professional and an advocate. I also now have plenty of couches to sleep on the next time I am in the region.

I cannot imagine completing this internship without having taken International Law with [Richard Perry Professor of Law] William Burke-White. I frequently binge-watch his Panopto Recordings and reach out to my classmates to help guide my work. Similarly, all of the writing I have produced is grounded in the teachings of my Legal Practice Skills professor, [Visiting Senior Lecturer] Jennifer Fried L’01, and Littleton Writing Fellow Alana Bevan L’21.

Before attending law school, much of my career was focused on documenting tragedies. I made the decision to attend law school because I wanted to be part of the solution to these problems rather than to just raise awareness about them. I am grateful to have the opportunity to see this goal realized with Fortify Rights. I look forward to carrying this experience with me throughout my next two years at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

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