PRAL Alumnus: Experience Shaped My Career

I did not intend to pursue refugee and asylum law when I first arrived at Michigan. It was certainly Jim's class, as well as the refugee rights colloquium and the Michigan fellowship, that steered me in that direction. The subject matter was very interesting to me but it was also Jim's approach toward his students—that of a mentor, taking great interest in our work and development, and that of a leader, guiding his program and encouraging our buy-in and participation not only as learners but as partners.

Jim is the world's academic leader on refugee law; there is no doubt about that in my mind. In my experience with UNHCR and in the NGO community, Jim has a special reputation. His book The Law of Refugee Status (Butterworths, 1991) is on every UNHCR protection officer's desk and to-read list, and is constantly referenced by practitioners in the field. He has taken a complex area of human rights law and made it more accessible. He is also, it seems to me, in a constant state of motion, with workshops, lectures, visiting professorships, and colloquia on refugee and asylum law. He gives back so much to other lawyers and academics working in this field and is very loyal and dedicated to his former students and all of his contacts. His footprint, both in publications and in presence, is immense.

My work as a PRAL fellow was very helpful. I worked for Jesuit Refugee Service in Zambia. It was my first experience in Africa, my first experience in a refugee camp, my first experience working in refugee advocacy and in applying refugee law overseas. I've based my entire career, largely, in Africa, in refugee camp situations, doing refugee protection. Now I've branched out into more general policy work, but my career started with that PRAL experience. So for me, the PRAL fellow experience was fundamental to my career to date. If I had not done that work, I likely would have done something different in my career.

Taylor Garrett, '03
Program/Field Officer
Southern Africa Regional Office
USAID/DCHA/OFDA

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