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Amelia Peterson, Valparaiso University School of Law

( 5 votes, average: 4.8 out of 5)
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Peterson, who was a child during Zimbabwe's war for independence, watched as her parents struggled to bring about change. Her father spent much of the 1970's working on the first road system in the country. ''He was trying to lay down the future in a country that was in the middle of a war, and it was almost impossible. He would build a road and the next day it would be blown up with grenades,'' recalls Peterson. Her mother worked as a nurse, caring for injured freedom fighters. Peterson said that 100 wounded soldiers would arrive at the hospital and her mother would work for five days trying to mend their injuries. She would then be granted a short break and another group of wounded fighters would be brought in. ''Both my parents were in roles where they were constantly trying to heal wounds that were opened afresh each day,'' said Peterson.

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Peterson has every intention of following in her parents' footsteps and making service her priority. After earning her law degree, she intends to work with non-governmental organizations in relation to human rights issues. At some point, she hopes to return to Africa, where she will continue to work in the human rights arena.

Peterson came to the US in 2002. She earned her undergraduate degree in international business from Johnson & Wales University in Colorado. She also earned her Graduate Certificate in Engineering from the University of Zimbabwe in Harare and is currently an MBA candidate at Regis University.

She has experience working in both corporate and nonprofit settings. In fact, she managed 500 people in a volunteer project that brought in $75,000.

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According to Peterson, she has acquired great knowledge from Valparaiso's first-year writing requirements, which include two semesters of legal writing. She admits that although she has always been a capable writer, legal writing is very challenging. The challenge lies in the fact that ''you go from writing a document to your client to working on a 30 page document a judge will read and your writing may be the only chance your client has to win a case.'' Peterson points out that the writing must cover everything because there may never be an opportunity to stand in front of a judge.

Peterson recognizes that the hard work that she endures now will lead her to fulfill her goals in the future. ''My center always comes back to human rights and the human struggle. I hope one day to go back and make policy changes in my country. Today, people there have no faith in the law and no faith in the courts to redress grievances. But it's going to be okay. One day it's going to change,'' says Peterson.

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Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

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