We’re so proud of our class of 2022. They’ve overcome enormous challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities, and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done all of this during a global pandemic when life – and student life – changed beyond recognition. Here, we’re taking the opportunity to share some of their stories.
Tue 12 Jul 22
When Augustina Berejanschi came to Essex from Moldova to study law, she worried she'd over-estimated her language skills. But thanks to hard work, determination and support from lecturers and friends, she's walking away with a first-class degree in LLB Law with Human Rights.
Augustina chose Essex because of the world-leading Human Rights Centre, and because she wanted to join our international staff and student community.
“I wanted a different experience than one of a traditional British university. I was particularly impressed by the high percentage of internationals among both the lecturers and the students. And indeed, I have benefited from a truly international experience,” she said.
But her first term was challenging as she adapted to a new country and studying in a new language.
“I realised I had overestimated my language skills when I had to read the public law textbook. I had great difficulties understanding legal concepts and writing essays.”
She was determined to succeed and with the help of her personal tutor and flatmates, she was soon getting essay marks of 85%.
“I was very excited about my progress,” she said.
This led to her receiving the Gordon Sagar Prize (2019-20) for the best overall performance of a first-year law student. And she was included in the Dean’s list of excellence in her second year.
As well as her academic achievements, Augustina has enjoyed taking part in voluntary roles and extra-curricular activities where she has been equally as successful. She was awarded the Platinum Big Essex Award in recognition of her contributions.
This year, she also won an international award in recognition for marches she organised in solidarity with Ukraine. And in 2019, Augustina founded a student-led debate club, called ‘keeping up with human rights’, which aimed to provide a friendly environment for students to discuss current human rights issues.
She worked with the Essex Law Clinic helping to provide legal advice to clients on housing, employment, probate and family law cases.
“Through this work, I have developed my client interviewing skills, expanded my knowledge through extensive topical, improved my critical thinking and skills in legal writing in practice,” she said.
And since October 2020, she has also volunteered in the Death Penalty Mitigation Clinic within the Human Rights Centre researching capital punishment in Pakistan, Malaysia, and the USA and working on life chronologies and interview summaries used as mitigation factors for cases.
Augustina, an inspiring international human rights defender, is glad she came to the UK – and to Essex – to study, despite the initial difficulties she faced.
“It has been an honour for me to volunteer and study at a university which has such a global reputation for excellence in researching and promoting human rights,” she said.
Augustina is graduating with a first in LLB Law and Human Rights and has been awarded the School of Law prize for best performance in Equity and Trusts (2021-22).