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Jennifer B. Sokoler

Going Places

By Mary Johnson

Winter 2010

Jennifer B. Sokoler ’10 traces her penchant for international affairs to her family: As a child, she listened intently to her grandparents’ stories about surviving the Holocaust. Her parents supplemented those impromptu history lessons with annual, monthlong vacations to distant countries, where the family sacrificed the comforts of hotels for the authenticity of staying with local families. “It was an incredible bonding experience,” Sokoler recalls, “and my parents really made me feel comfortable being in foreign places.”

Thanks largely to those childhood experiences, Sokoler grew up idolizing diplomats like Madeleine Albright, rather than pop culture icons. “It was always very important to me how the U.S. was portrayed in the rest of the world,” she says.

At the Law School, Sokoler’s interest in international legal studies led her to Tanzania, where she spent seven weeks last summer helping the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda prosecute crimes related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This fall, she is in Washington, D.C., working in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department.

In addition to her focus on global legal issues, Sokoler has also developed an affinity for academia—an interest fueled by stints as a research assistant to Professor Gillian E. Metzger and Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. In the future, she hopes to satisfy her myriad legal curiosities with a career that encompasses both scholarship and international legal work. “What I love about academia and government,” Sokoler says, “is that the agendas change daily.”

Photographed by David Yellen