Hijaab Yahya was on the Dean’s Honour List 2019-2020 and is a recipient of the 2021 Provost Scholar Award.
What drew you to the Law program at Carleton?
At a very young age, I had determined to pursue a career in the legal field. I was amazed by how lawyers could help vulnerable folks in their communities. In high school, I attended a mentorship conference where I met a human rights lawyer who mentioned the benefits of doing a pre-law program. I knew Carleton’s Bachelor of Arts in Law would provide the proper knowledge, skills and research training that would help me to excel in the field.
One of my favourite things about the program is its interdisciplinary nature. I gained a critical understanding of the concept of law, the structure and operation of the Canadian legal system and the workings of international law. I also engaged with various disciplines, including sociology, criminology, human rights, public policy and international studies. Students are able to hone their understanding of the law and its interactions with various disciplines and gain exposure to diverse ideas and knowledge.
What were the most important things you learned?
Although I expanded my academic knowledge, I truly gained more lessons on life. I learned the importance of hard work, dedication, recognizing the potential of my ideas and staying grounded in my capability to achieve success.
I learned the importance of centering your mental health. Being a full-time student can be a challenge and the humdrum of the routine semester can strain your well-being. If you keep working without listening to your body or accessing available resources, you can certainly set yourself up for burnout.
I have had multiple opportunities to hone and advance my skills in various areas such as communication, critical thinking, metacognition and research. I learned how to write and present my ideas, critically question knowledge, reflect on my skills and perform qualitative socio-legal research.
The experiences and learning I gained through this program helped me construct and conduct an original socio-legal project through the Carleton University Research Opportunity Program (CUROP). Conducting this research study required me to put research skills and knowledge into practice. I realized how much I enjoy conducting socio-legal research. As a result, I am returning to the department to complete an MA in Legal Studies in the thesis stream.
My favourite class was a fourth-year seminar “Transitional Justice” (LAWS 4603) taught by Professor Christiane Wilke. The course centres on critical race theory and decolonization when discussing the law and legal system. I found this course extremely relevant towards synthesizing my academic alignments into tangible critiques of the system and the violence it disproportionately inflicts upon racialized peoples, including Black and Indigenous peoples.
What activities were you involved with outside of the classroom?
I was a member of the Carleton Law and Legal Studies Society and the Carleton International Relations Society. I also volunteered at the Paul Menton Centre each year as a note-taker. This year, I served as a co-president to TEDxCarletonUniversity, which hosts an annual TEDx-sponsored conference at Carleton, showcasing TEDx Talks by alumni, faculty and students.
I also served as a co-president for Carleton University Students for Scholars at Risk, a student-run advocacy group that works to increase awareness of academic freedom and engages in initiatives to protect scholars worldwide who face threats to their lives because of their scholarship. Our most notable contribution this past academic year was our campaign for Cihan Erdal, which received international recognition and support.
What were the key highlights of your degree?
One major highlight was the relationships I built with the faculty. In my four years, I have formed friendships with the brilliant scholars at the department who have served as my mentors and have taught me lessons I will carry with me for life.
What I learned in my courses and from my peers and teachers exceeded my expectations. I have experienced multiple groundbreaking, paradigm shifting and lightbulb moments that have helped me advance my knowledge and perceptions of the legal system.
The Carleton community also stands out. With multiple events and ample support for student-led initiatives, there exists a community and centre for folks from all walks of life. I feel like I truly belong on campus. I saw familiar faces and developed relationships with students, faculty and staff. I love that about Carleton — it makes the university experience less isolating.
Friday, November 12, 2021 in 2021 Graduation, Convocation, Department of Law and Legal Studies, FPA Voices, Students
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