Harpreet Ahuja was one of our Global LLM Bursary Winners 2018.
Now that we have just finished awarding our Global LLM Bursaries 2019, we thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with the Canadian LLM student and find out about her experience studying her LLM program at UCLA School of Law.
When I was applying to the LLM program, I had an internal debate. Was this the next smart move? And even when I first arrived to Los Angeles I was still asking myself this same question. I am now asking myself how I could ever have asked myself that question! I am certain that this is the best decision I have ever made.
Throughout my nine-month journey, I have had such career-changing opportunities. During my first semester, I decided that I wanted to be involved in the community and gain hands-on experience in my areas of interest. I decided to pursue an internship with an international non-profit in Los Angeles in refugee representation. In this role, I attended stakeholder meetings, met with clients, and worked on client files. This experience not only added an interesting entry on my resume, but also provided me with insights on the very real impacts that Trump’s immigration policies had on the most vulnerable. During the January term, with funding provided by UCLA Law, I volunteered with a non-profit in Tijuana, Mexico, where I provided brief legal advice and ‘know your rights’ sessions to Migrant-Caravan asylum-seekers. In addition, in the Spring 2019 semester, I worked as a research assistant in the areas of international and Islamic law. Furthermore, throughout the academic year, I was the LLM representative for the Native American Law Students Association. I can say that these experiences have shaped my career path in profound ways. Because of my involvement in public interest law during my LLM program, in April 2019, I was the recipient of UCLA Law’s Public Interest award.
My LLM journey at UCLA School of Law, was not only fulfilling academically, but also on a personal level. I have made lifelong best friends in this program. And, this alone was worth the time and investment. I met human rights fellows from South Africa, a Brazilian international human rights attorney, a Vietnamese LGBTQ+ activist, a refugee resettlement attorney, to name but just a few of my colleagues. The opportunity to be surrounded by attorneys from all around the world working in different practice areas meant that I was able to challenge my own views and understandings of the law. And, this was the equivalent of a second LLM degree.
I know that UCLA School of Law not only produced intelligent, capable and skillful attorneys and academics, but good and compassionate human beings. There is no doubt that I became more compassionate after attending the Critical Race Studies Conference or discussion panels hosted by the Williams Institute, the Promise Institute, and the David J Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. The LLM program at UCLA Law is holistic and provides plentiful opportunities to be involved and expand upon or discover new interests.