Two goals have driven Kristine Perry’s ’16 career path since she started law school in 2013: to work in public service and to work internationally. Both of these goals were fulfilled for Perry in September when she began working at Amnesty International in London, an accomplishment made possible through the College’s new Finn International Service Fellowship.
Perry is the fellowship’s inaugural recipient, established by Michael Finn ’67 and his wife, Janet. The fellowship selects one graduating student to receive full funding for a year-long post abroad working in international service for a nonprofit organization. A call to work in public service can be traced throughout the majority of Perry’s academic career. As an undergraduate student at Denison University studying creative writing and Spanish, Perry worked with Somali immigrants and used her Spanish speaking skills to teach English to immigrants. She also studied in Santiago, Chile, in a program focused on human rights and gender.
Before law school, Perry spent a year teaching English in Spain and continued to volunteer by teaching English as a second language and by tutoring a Spanish-speaking Columbus student with Down syndrome.
“During that time I really started developing an interest in working with immigrant communities, and then I thought with my language skills that having a law degree might be the best way that I could help those communities that I really enjoyed working with,” Perry said.
Perry continued to focus on public service and immigration law throughout her time at Moritz. After her 1L year, Perry worked at the Franklin County Public Defender’s office and the Ohio Poverty Law Center. Following her 2L year, Perry was awarded a Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) fellowship and worked at the Immigration Center for Women and Children in Oakland, California.
While planning for her next step after graduation, Perry saw the Finn Fellowship as a chance to combine her passion for public service with her desire to live abroad.
Part of the application process for the fellowship included receiving offers from international nonprofit organizations. Perry received guidance from Assistant Dean Laura Fernandez, who helped her set up interviews and eventually get offers from International IDEA in Sweden, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Italy, and Amnesty International in England.
Ultimately, Perry was awarded the fellowship to work at Amnesty International. The organization strives to fight abuses of human rights worldwide through research and campaigning. Perry had prior experience with the organization, serving as president of the Amnesty Chapter at Denison during her undergraduate career.
Perry believes strongly in the work of Amnesty International, and felt the organization would be a good fit based on her prior experience and knowledge.
In September, Perry began her fellowship working in the organization’s Law and Policy Programme at the International Secretariat’s office. Providing the organization leadership in areas of legal standard-setting, developments in international and post-conflict justice, human rights jurisprudence, and international humanitarian law, the program oversees effective implementation of the law and the development and application of human rights policy.
Participants like Perry also work to provide legal and policy advice and analysis to the International Secretariat to ensure the accuracy of the analysis and application of law and policy.
“I’m getting a different perspective than I would have gotten if I stayed in the U.S. There’s an emphasis on international human rights law,” Perry said. “I’m exposed to a lot of different issues and it is very interesting.”
After being introduced to the organization and learning about the policies that affect it, Perry has been working hard to ensure that everything Amnesty International puts out is in line with international law and its own policies. The details of Perry’s job vary day-to-day, but include extensive research and writing, both skills that she perfected while at Moritz. “It’s also using the legal skills and the analytical and critical skills that I picked up in law school to look at the issues,” Perry said. “Law school gave me the tools that I have to succeed in this fellowship.”
Participating in the Finn Fellowship and working abroad at Amnesty International opened Perry’s eyes to many opportunities. Working with refugees in Europe and the policies surrounding the refugee crisis are among some of the possible future plans Perry may pursue. However, she is certain that she will always remain in the public service field.
“I am still very interested in immigration law, but this fellowship has really opened my eyes that careers don’t move in linear ways,” Perry said. “I am very open to new opportunities. The fellowship has exposed me to new subjects and practice areas that I didn’t know about before.”