Human rights and social justice lie at the heart of many legal issues – they also drive DLS student Amanda Stanford’s career aspirations.
One of only 100 students worldwide to be invited to the USA’s National Prayer Breakfast, Deakin law student Amanda Stanford says the ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’ has given her unique insight into how global leaders strive for integrity, development and unity.
Amanda’s recent trip to Washington DC notched up another international experience that’s helping her prepare for a law career that’s meaningful and focused on making a difference.
The National Prayer Breakfast, hosted by the United States Congress for almost 4000 guests from over 140 countries, is an annual event which provides a range of forums designed to share knowledge, build relationships and promote global harmony.
‘It represents a united collective of people – no matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe – who pray for our world leaders and the future of the world’s nations. It gave me a remarkable opportunity to meet with students, leaders from the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the US government along with the wider diplomatic community from all parts of the world,’ she explains.
With a lifelong passion for justice and transformative social change, Amanda is in the final year of a combined Deakin law/arts degree where she’s majoring in criminology.
Her invitation to the USA’s 67th National Prayer Breakfast was the result of her ongoing involvement with National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) after selection as a delegate by the Faculty of Business and Law in 2015.
‘This has been an invaluable experience and motivates my continued involvement as a Peer Mentor, Success Coach and ambassador for Deakin. The NSLF also provides me with inspiration about my core values, my influence and leadership of others, and how to meaningfully connect people and build community,’ she says.
Amanda’s February trip to the USA was not her first – in 2018 she joined Deakin Law School’s (DLS) Criminal Justice Study Tour to Washington DC and North Carolina.
‘This was an amazing opportunity to learn about the US Criminal law and procedure and compare it to Australia. We met with US professors, sheriffs, prosecutors and agencies through an interactive program that linked theory with practical demonstrations of the US law in action,’ she says.
In January 2019 she also travelled to Europe where she studied International Law and Human Rights at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.
The DLS study program included visits to the Constitutional Court of Czech Republic, Supreme Administrative Court of Czech Republic, UN Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria and the UN Refugee Agency in Budapest, Hungary.
‘We were provided with invaluable access to organisations, firms, agencies, courts, academics and professionals that gave us first-hand insight into human rights application on an international scale,’ she says.
As well as adding depth and global learning to her studies, Amanda says she now has greater insight into career opportunities with organisations that specialise in the law and human rights.
‘Both DLS study abroad programs have helped develop my understanding of the many avenues and means by which a law career can make a meaningful contribution.’
In addition to expanding her global knowledge, Amanda is building a solid foundation of Melbourne-based practical legal skills.
In 2016, she completed a Deakin-facilitated internship with Victoria Legal Aid where she continues to volunteer as a Criminal and Family Violence Court Clerk.
‘I’ve gained valuable exposure to the justice system which has reaffirmed my desire to work within the criminal justice, family, social justice jurisdictions,’ she says.
For the past two years she’s also held a justice advocate role with the International Justice Mission and, after completing an earlier Deakin legal internship with the AED Legal Centre, stayed on as a volunteer for an extra 18 months.
‘This role gave me confidence working in a legal organisation which provided meaningful work for people with disabilities who were experiencing employment or education discrimination.’
Not surprisingly, Amanda’s career goals are firmly focused on the criminal justice sector, family and family violence, and human rights.
‘I am eager to use my passion and skills to have a meaningful impact that is sustainable. I would love to work in a collaborative team environment where we unite with other people to seek better outcomes, further development, advocate for those need it most and ultimately improve our societies and communities.