While serving as an intern at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Bogotá, Colombia, Roxane Cassehgari ’13 LL.M. received a life-changing opportunity. As the only French-speaking person working for IOM—a nonprofit organization that provides support to internally displaced populations—the Paris-born Cassehgari was called to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to assist in recovery efforts after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake of January 2010. Cassehgari worked with women who had experienced violence while receiving aid in various relief camps and helped to educate victims on their rights.
After spending more than a year in Haiti, she moved to New York City to pursue an LL.M. “I wanted to get an American perspective on human rights,” says Cassehgari, who previously studied law in the U.K. and France. “New York and Columbia Law School gave me a big window on international organizations, the U.N., and NGOs.”
At the Law School, Cassehgari studied the legal issues that dictate the rights of individuals forced to flee their homes due to civil war, natural disasters, and other factors. Now that she has supplemented her fieldwork with newly broadened legal expertise, Cassehgari says she will be better equipped to advocate on behalf of vulnerable groups.
“Having that added legal background gives you the tools to best address these issues,” she says.