We need to be careful not to impose values beyond those that have been agreed upon internationally, because there are very few instances when you can firmly say your culture takes a better approach...
Born and raised in Romania, Diana Suciu spent 5 years, grade 8 through 12, as a student at AISB. Her favorite memories at AISB shine a light on the community and opportunity for students to thrive and grow. She shares how her experiences outside of the classroom, then and now, have enhanced her learning and professional growth. Her story is a testament to the power of hard work and determination and we can’t wait to see where she goes next.
WM: What is one of your earliest/best memories of AISB?
DS: All of my memories of AISB are very dear to me, and it’s difficult to settle on only one. Something that stands out very clearly, though, is my very first Speech & Debate tournament in 8th grade. It was my first year at AISB, and I was very shy and unsure if I had what it takes to make the team. I was incredibly lucky that Mr. Roach was the coach, because he took the time to help me realize my own potential and, in a way, discover myself in the process. I worked harder than ever before to prepare, and in the end it paid off because we won. To this day, I think back to that tournament whenever I feel like I am losing my way. It truly made me see that anything is doable when you give it your best.
WM: Tell us a bit about what you have been doing since you graduated from AISB.
DS: After graduating in 2015, I studied Law at King’s College London. During university, I was really involved in extracurricular activities, the highlight of which is probably my internship at the European Parliament. I was elected president of King’s Think Tank, the largest student think tank in Europe, which helped me add a political twist to my studies. If anything, my experience serves to show that you can do a lot even if you are a “simple” university student, if you actively look for opportunities outside of regular class. I just graduated in July 2018, and I am currently pursuing a Master of Law degree at Cornell University.
WM: What did you choose to specialize in? What type of law are you pursuing at Cornell?
DS: I am currently specializing in Public International Law, which governs the conduct of states, and how they interact with each other and with international organizations. Since PIL is a very broad field, I chose to focus my studies at Cornell on two practice areas: human rights and international trade. While at first glance they may not seem to complement each other much, I find that you can’t understand the strengths of one without understanding the weaknesses of the other.
WM: You’ve advised future students to take advantage of all opportunities, tell us about your current adventures as a student at Cornell?
DS: At Cornell, you can apply to be part of clinic classes, meaning that you work with your professors on real life cases. I am currently part of the International Human Rights Clinic, and I get to spend 2 weeks this semester in Tanzania and Malawi working on some of our cases there. The field experience is incredible, and it has opened my eyes to the importance of having an international mechanism for protecting human rights.
At the same time, it has made me reflect on the role international advocates should take when working in a country with different customs than your own. We need to be careful not to impose values beyond those that have been agreed upon internationally, because there are very few instances when you can firmly say your culture takes a better approach than another.
WM: How did you discover law to be your passion and how has AISB shaped your direction?
DS: I’ve wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember, at first without having concrete reasons for it. All I knew was that I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of it, coupled with the possibility of making a positive impact in people’s lives. At AISB, I really cultivated that passion into an educated career choice. Through the extracurriculars I was involved in (Speech & Debate, Student Council) and my classes (English and History, in particular) I developed some of the basic skills lawyers need, and really came to see how much I loved the world of advocacy.
WM: What do you see as the biggest differences in curriculum and educational style between London and New York?
DS: I dislike generalizing, because I’ve encountered a wide spectrum of approaches to education in both places. Something that I’ve noticed is that law students in the US tend to come to class better prepared than what I was used to, and the expectation is that class will be a discussion as opposed to a lecture. This is partly because Law is a graduate degree in the US, so students have a better sense of their career goals. Most of my classes here also grade participation, so it can really make or break your final score.
WM: How has the IB prepared you for the difficulties of the university curriculum?
DS: The IB gave me a solid set of skills that are crucial in a Law degree. It taught me how to articulate my thoughts concisely, both in writing and out loud, and it wired my brain to quickly dissect and analyse complex issues. On the other hand, the subject matter of a Law degree is unlike any of the courses offered by the IB so I had to start from zero in that regard. For some other degrees, I would expect the IB can be of even more help as it provides knowledge beyond what is expected of a regular high school student.
WM: How has high school pushed you towards your passion and how did it prepare you?
DS: AISB was the perfect environment for me to begin discovering myself, and it truly gave me the chance to figure out what I wanted to do in life. What truly makes AISB special is not the academic side of things, though. I firmly believe you can excel academically in any school if you put in the effort.
What truly makes AISB special is that it is a community more than a school. I learned how to work and co-exist with people, and how to navigate the world through the micro universe that is AISB. I discovered and nurtured my passions through extracurricular activities, CAS, or even just chats with teachers after hours.
I cannot stress this enough: get involved in things other than you classes! There is no better way to fully take advantage of what AISB has to offer.
WM: What was the process of application and requirements to get into Cornell?
DS: For those familiar with the Common App process for US colleges, applying for grad school is not that much different. I had to submit a personal statement, resume, transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation, and some basic demographic information. The only specific requirement of the program was to have a Law degree, and while academic excellence was important, there were no further guidelines for acceptance. This made the process all the more nerve wracking as it was difficult to predict if you were going to get in or not.
WM: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on coming back to Romania?
DS: I am planning to take the New York Bar Exam next summer, and I am currently in the process of job hunting. We’ll see what opportunities arise! I am trying to keep an open mind and look for jobs that fit me regardless of where they are located geographically. Regardless of where I end up, I will always dedicate time to promoting Romania and its potential.
Read the entire edition of the WORLD Magazine Special Edition Winter 2018 here.
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