Honors College criminal justice student Sophia Estupinan interned at the International Association of Women Judges in Washington, D.C., this summer. The nonprofit organization brings together women judges from around the world with the dual focus of increasing the number of women judges and promoting equal justice for women and girls.
”I wanted to be part of something that changes this constant glass ceiling that we’re always trying to break as women and as minorities in this system,” Estupinan said.
Estupinan worked on judicial projects for 13 countries including Kenya, Uganda, and Botswana focused on women and minority populations exposed to human trafficking, gender-based violence, early and forced marriages, corruption, education and health services.
Some of Estupinan’s main contributions include helping create and develop webinars and bench books, which are comprehensive reference guides designed to assist women judges facing persecution, threats, dislocation, and threats to judicial independence globally.
“I reviewed and formatted the whole bench book that was rolled out,” Estupinan said. It was just a blank, white word document. It was given to me, and I turned it into the actual book itself.”
The summer was an integral part of Estupinan’s experience as a criminal justice major, having expanded her classroom learning to practical work such as documenting key points of the U.S. judicial system and sharing these with her counterparts in meetings, creating press releases and media briefs for training offered to foreign female judges.
Throughout the internship, Estupinan has also collaborated with projects impacting Latin American countries such as Mexico and Puerto Rico by serving as an interpreter. Her bilingual skills have played an important role in connecting and developing partnerships with Spanish-speaking nations.
Estupinan will culminate her undergraduate studies this fall, after which she plans to continue her studies in order to achieve her goal of being the first woman in her family to become a lawyer.
Estupinan is one of 120 students and alumni who interned in Washington in the past year. Many of these internships are facilitated by FIU in Washington, D.C., which is opening a bold, new location this Fall.
— By Ivette Franco and Eric Feldman