Mary has been obsessed with travel for as long as she can remember. As a teenager, she visited a newly post-Soviet St. Petersburg, Russia, and became enchanted with the culture, language, and people of the region. She attended Harvard University as an undergraduate majoring in modern European history, then spent a year in Poland teaching English and studying the history of WWII. She later received a MA in Russian Studies from the European University at St. Petersburg, and afterwards joined the U.S. Peace Corps in Ukraine in order to further improve her Russian language skills and to give something back to a region that has given her so much. Mary was stationed in Melitopol, a small industrial city in southern Ukraine near the Sea of Azov, where she made some of the best friends of her life and learned to really appreciate both the joys and the hardships that come with life in the former USSR. Though now in law school, she frequently visits her Ukrainian friends and has continued to travel extensively through Eastern Europe and the Caucausus. Mary is excited to return to the stunningly beautiful Caucasus region, working for 3 months with the ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Azerbaijan.
The ABA Rule of Law Initiative, based in Baku, Azerbaijan, was created in 1999 and works with Azeri lawyers, judges, and community members to increase public awareness of legal rights, strengthen the quality of legal education, and improve judicial accountability and the rule of law throughout the country. They also provide legal services and continuing education for lawyers and sponsor a travelling lawyer program in order to increase legal awareness and services in smaller cities outside of Baku. Legal interns have assisted in researching and writing informational booklets on basic rights to assist Azeri citizens in filing claims and promoting their constitutional values, editing reports for donor organizations, and arranging conferences with American and European NGOs and government representatives.