Rosemont College was founded on specific principles, one of which was service. So it is especially heartening to see an alumna take up a worthwhile cause, as Shahrzad Kojouri ’01 is preparing to do. Kojouri will live in Cambodia for a year as a Legal Fellow for International Justice Mission fighting the country’s terrible human trafficking problem. IJM is an organization that is dedicated to battling violent oppression, sexual abuse, and other human rights violations. She explains, “I am leaving my job as a Philadelphia area corporate attorney to volunteer my legal services (completely pro bono) for IJM. I will work with local government and police to create better laws and policies in Cambodia to protect the victims, informants, and witnesses. I will also help prosecute.”
The decision to leave your comfort zone and your job is not an easy one to make. One would imagine a person with the fortitude to do so posses an immense amount of self-assuredness. And to be sure it appears that Kojouri does have just that. But that was not always the case. She mentions that Rosemont was the place where she overcame a lot and gained the confidence to be an independent woman: “As an unfortunate victim of bullying throughout high school I was looking for a school where I could rebuild and find my voice… The closeness of the student body was my favorite thing about the school. It was such a melting pot of people, but we all seemed to feel safe and comfortable with each other… Bit by bit with each semester the insecure me who entered Rosemont was restored. Today I look back and am so grateful for the opportunity I had to come into my own as a confident and strong woman. By my senior year I joined student government and some of my most fun memories were late night meetings in Heffernan and one of my favorites was going door to door to sell senior ball tickets.”
Kojouri believes that her time at Rosemont was also a major contributing factor to her decision to take up a cause affecting people thousands of miles from her. She says, “When I was at Rosemont there was a service requirement. Part of that requirement was an opportunity for me to find something I wanted to be a part of. Ten Thousand Villages was an organization Rosemont introduced me to that sold fair trade items from third world countries. I loved being part of an organization that empowered people and found beauty all over the world.” Rosemont’s dedication to giving its students a Catholic education affected Shaz in such a way that what she learned here still affects her daily life and, indeed, will be influential in her upcoming mission to Cambodia: “I was required to take a theology course at Rosemont, this one requirement turned into selecting many more during my time at Rosemont. I learned about various beliefs and developed a very open understanding of faith and God. This planted a seed to keep learning and trying to understand who God is and what that means in my life. That seed grew into the deep faith I have today, that has lead me to step into the mission field empowered by God. My profession and faith are one.”
For alumni who, like Kojouri, find themselves inspired by the values instilled in them during their time at Rosemont, she has some advice. “I always say just get involved in causes and issues that are important to you- whether it’s anti-human trafficking, women’s rights, education, health care, the arts, anything. We can and should become a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Please visit Kojouri’s website, www.JoinShaz.org, to learn more about the issue of human trafficking in Cambodia and throughout the world. And reach her by email at email@example.com To learn more, support , or volunteer with The International Justice Mission visit their website, www.ijm.org.