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UWyo Magazine

May 2016 | Vol. 17, No. 3

Sabrina Sameshima - Immigration Attorney at Kelly Ryan Law

Sabrina Sameshima now works as an immigration attorney at Kelly Ryan Law in Denver.

 

Skills to Last a Lifetime

When Jacqueline Todak chose UW for her master’s in environment and natural resources and international studies, she’d already spent time living abroad, and she knew UW would allow her to continue her international explorations. “I was really involved with Engineers Without Borders at UW, and I was able to work on a project in Guatemala,” she says. “Then as an international studies major, I was able to do my thesis research in Nicaragua. I also took a class where I was able to go to Patagonia, and I visited Argentina and Chile. I also presented at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I’ve been to over 40 countries now, which is something that a lot of people find interesting,” says Todak, who graduated from UW in 2015. “It’s something that makes me stand out to employers.”

Currently based in Redding, Calif., Todak says her international experiences as well as her education at UW helped land her a job as an environmental planner at the environmental and engineering consulting firm CH2M, which has offices in 50 countries.

Although Ian Melchior’s job as vice president of technology at EcoMark Solar in Denver keeps him focused on the Front Range, he says the skills he learned studying abroad still apply.

“Even though I didn’t know where the experience would lead, I knew that signing up to study abroad was a great opportunity and that stepping outside my comfort zone and taking the risk would only lead to more opportunities in the future,” he says of his time in China while pursuing his international studies degree at UW. “Besides the obvious benefit of developing a greater command of the language in a short period of time, there were many other benefits that I hadn’t anticipated. Living among students from China and other foreign students from all across the globe meant exposure to experiences and perspectives that I never would have encountered by staying home.

“The ability to adapt to changes and unfamiliar circumstances is one of most valuable qualities in any person, and I think international experience is one of the most effective ways to hone these traits,” says Melchior, who graduated in 2011.

Experiential Opportunities

With the largest study-abroad scholarship endowment of any U.S. four-year public land-grant university, UW offers unprecedented opportunities for studying abroad. But the opportunities don’t end there.

“I selected UW Law because I wanted a legal career assisting unrepresented communities,” says Sabrina Sameshima, who graduated in 2013 and now works as an immigration attorney at Kelly Ryan Law in Denver. “I searched for educational institutions with a high emphasis on experiential learning, immigration and human rights law courses, as well as tuition costs that I could responsibly afford while representing individuals from humble means.”

At UW, Sameshima discovered the Center for International Human Rights Law and Advocacy. “The human rights clinic, along with quality classmates, made my law school experience,” she says. “As a student in the clinic, I gained so much more than a collection of stamps in my passport. In 2011, I had the privilege of representing a Nepali asylum seeker, alongside a fellow classmate and Professor Suzan Pritchett. I learned the power of active listening and validation. I learned the difficulty of language barriers and patience. Most importantly, I witnessed the strength of the human spirit. My client’s trust motivated me.

“That same year, with the support of a Cheney Study Abroad Grant and Professor Robert Golten, another student, Professor Pritchett and I traveled to Kenya to assist the indigenous Samburu people in a property rights dispute,” Sameshima says. “It was the classic tale of the underdog. The Samburu sued the Kenyan government for the unlawful taking of their land. Their land, like that of many Wyoming ranchers, is their livelihood.

“In 2012, I was appointed as the clinic’s student director,” she continues. “I provided technical assistance to students, represented asylum seekers from multiple African countries, provided support to a victim of human trafficking in the United States and assisted a Wyoming family with their green card applications. Additionally, I assisted with a background paper examining jurisprudence surrounding gender-based violence in conflict for the Asian Regional Women’s Tribunal.

“My immigration law and human rights course went one step beyond the hypotheticals and gave me the opportunity to apply my knowledge to real-world legal issues, in the actual courtrooms and government offices where I now practice. As an immigration attorney, I now assist individuals across the United States and across the world, including Afghanistan, Iran, Mexico, Columbia, Japan, Romania, Sweden and Vietnam.”


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The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming


About UWyo

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Contact Us

UWyo Magazine
University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

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