Student of the Month for August
This month's Student of the Month honors go to Alexei Vasiliev, who has just started the LL.M. program at Temple University in Philadelphia.
We first ran into Alexei a year ago when his Candidate Program, Moscow State Law Academy, asked us to help him with his candidate studies by enrolling him in Pericles Contract Law course. It was Alexei's first time studying law in English, but he rose to the challenge and did well in our course.
But that's not why we made him Student of the Month.
Alexei is receiving the Student of the Month honors because he received the President's Scholarship for law, giving him a full tuition grant to study for a year in any foreign law school! Alexei was the only student to receive this scholarship this year for graduate level study in law.
This high honor came with a little problem however. Although Alexei was writing his dissertation on American contract law, unfortunately the President's Scholarship timetable was geared to Russian and European law school admissions schedules and not to the, much earlier, US law school deadlines. Thus, by the time Alexei heard that he had won the scholarship, most of the US admissions deadlines had already expired! Moreover, the scholarship conditions required him to quickly show which schools had accepted him. Kashmar!
This is where a little string pulling and a lot of hard work came into play.
Fortunately, Pericles Dean, Marian Dent, who also runs Pericles LL.M.
program, is in touch with a lot of American LL.M. directors. She was able to quickly discover which schools were not beyond the deadline or were willing to extend their deadline for a student like Alexei, which could make an acceptance decision quickly, and which could waive their application fees, as Alexei's scholarship did not cover those fees. Putting out the word among LL.M. directors was a successful strategy as most LL.M. directors are internationally oriented lawyers who like to help graduate students from countries like Russia that are underrepresented in American law schools.
Thus they were very helpful, going out of their way to help a student whom the Russian President's team had chosen as a scholarship winner.
Then Alexei had to rush and complete his entire LL.M. application process in one weekend! Fortunately he had already passed the TOEFL, but nonetheless he was up all day and night working on application forms and personal statements. As a result, within a week of winning the scholarship, Alexei had completed applications to, and gained acceptances from, several excellent US law schools.
Then came the nightmare task that we all wish we had: choosing between several good schools that have accepted you. Alexei was accepted to seven schools but quickly narrowed it down to three. Then he was torn between Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, which had previous experience with Russian Presidential Scholarship winners and could thus deal with the financial details and which had the unique aspect of blending Civil and Common law studies; University of San Diego, which was willing to grant Alexei some additional funds and to let Alexei take some courses towards his degree in the summer in Moscow; and Temple University in Philadelpia, which had particularly good contacts with the East-Coast international law
community and also helped supplement his scholarship. In the end, for a
variety of reasons, not least because of its convenient location between Washington D.C. and New York City, Alexei chose Temple.
The last we heard, Temple's extremely helpful LL.M. director, Karen McMichael, had helped Alexei to find affordable last minute housing with other Temple students, and to get settled in to life in the U.S. He is taking a full load of courses, including the advanced contacts subjects that will help him with his Candidate's dissertation back home. He says he enjoys his courses, Temple and his fellow students. In fact, Alexei is thinking about staying on after graduation next summer for a practice internship or possibly to take the New York Bar.
We also chose Alexei as Student of the Month because of the tremendously long way he has come and the inspiration he can provide to other students.
You see, Alexei was not originally from Moscow but from a small town in the Irkutsk Oblast. He graduated from Irkutsk State University with honors and with prizes in private law in regional and national Olympiads under his belt before being admitted the MGUA for his doctoral program. He did well in his doctoral program, securing the scholarship recommendations of some very demanding MGUA professors. We know that it is tough for a student from a small town even to make it to Moscow, let alone to win such a fantastic opportunity to study abroad for a year. But Alexei's intelligence and hard work let him manage it, and let him inspire other determined students to be as successful.
Congratulations Alexei. We here at Pericles all hope you have a fantastic year abroad, learn a lot, and see all there is to see of Philadelphia and the U.S. East Coast. When you return we expect to see you progress rapidly in the international law community.