"Miami changed me," says Olga Rubel, a recent LL.M. graduate of Miami Law. "I understand people better now."
Rubel, who was born and raised in the Ukraine, received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Miami Law for one year, where she received an LL.M. degree in International Law with a specialization in U.S. and Transnational Law for Foreign Lawyers this past May.
"I had been specializing in international law and it was good for me to come here to study international law," explains Rubel, who is currently working at a small law firm in Sunny Isles. "Miami is at the center between Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The interaction with different cultures was a good idea for me."
Rubel received her Bachelor of Law from the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, Ukraine. Prior to attending law school in Miami, she was an associate in a law firm in Kyiv, working in international corporate, securities and tax law. She then applied – and received – a Fulbright scholarship, which provides funds for international students to come to study or conduct research in the United States.
"I received a Fulbright – and it was major for me," says Rubel. "It motivated me to come here. I like Miami – it has so many different cultures. People understand me better here as a foreigner, because everyone comes from somewhere else."
For more than 40 years, Miami Law's International Graduate Law Programs has trained lawyers from around the world. Rubel was impressed by the quality of the education she received here, as well as the diversity of the students.
"The LL.M. program had students from Brazil, Switzerland, Argentina, Germany," says Rubel. "I liked all the classes I took and the professors were very nice. I learned a lot – I think that in one year I learned more than in the five years I studied law in the Ukraine."
As a Fulbright scholar, Rubel is obligated to go back to the Ukraine and work there for two years. "Being a Fulbright scholar is a lot of responsibility. You should always develop yourself, be active and stay focused. Academic life shouldn't finish after school is over."
For Iryna Vorona, another Fulbright scholar from the Ukraine who is currently working towards her LL.M. degree in International Law at Miami, the decision to come here began with the decision to apply to the Fulbright Program.
"I was looking for a school with a strong foundation in immigration law," says Vorona. "I wanted to get specific knowledge which can broaden my view on the ways for improvement of immigration regulations in Ukraine. In addition, seventy-five percent of my family are immigrants, so it was my intention to pursue immigration law and assist foreigners coming to Ukraine, as well as Ukrainians going abroad."
Vorona had been working as an associate in a law firm in Kyiv, Ukraine when she applied for a Fulbright scholarship. A previous partner of the firm recommended she consider the University of Miami School of Law for her LL.M. education. She began doing research and learned that Miami Law had clinics in Human Rights and Immigration, as well as professors who were experts in those fields.
Having arrived in Miami only 6 weeks ago, Vorona is excited about her upcoming year at Miami Law.
"Miami is quite different," she says. "I really like the environment. The LL.M. program is very demanding but it's important to know that there's a support system in place. If you have nice people around you, you feel like you are cared about. That is what I found here."
Vorona received her Bachelor of Law and Master of Law degrees from Lviv Ivan Franko National University in the Ukraine and worked as an attorney for four years, specializing in corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, immigration and labor law. Prior to coming to Miami, she took an intensive English course at the University of Mississippi, which was made possible through a Fulbright Graduate Student Award.
"I am grateful for the Fulbright program because it provides people from different countries who are similar in their desire to make a change with the great opportunity to meet each other, share their experience, see new worlds, meet new people and gain new knowledge," says Vorona.
When asked about her experiences so far at the University of Miami, she smiles.
"I feel comfortable here" says Vorona. "For me, what makes me happy is that the atmosphere is warm. People are friendly and kind."