The Global Impact of Scholarships
International Scholars Committed to Human Rights and Disability Law
In Fall 2019, the College of Law welcomed three new international scholars who are each committed to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities.
Rencie “Mercy” Xie and Jin “Jason” Xi, both from China, are pursuing master of laws (LL.M.) degrees with concentrations in human rights and disability law. Both are already pioneers in the field. Xie was the only student with a disability at her university in China, and in 2017 she delivered a speech about the lives of persons with disabilities in China at the United Nations. “I intend to work to improve the system of laws impacting persons with disabilities in China,” Xie says. “Many people in China are not aware of their rights, which is compounded by the fact that law schools do not teach specialized courses in disability rights and disability law. I am confident that the impact of my time in Syracuse will be substantial and transformative in China.”
Xi is the first visually impaired student to enroll in law school in China and also the first to request reasonable accommodations for the bar exam. While pursuing his Master’s thesis, he identified gaps in Chinese disability law, which led to discrimination in education, employment, and daily life. “The courses at Syracuse University College of Law have been enlightening and have encouraged me to think about solutions to these challenges, which I intend to bring back with me to China,” Xi says. “It is a true honor for me to study and live in these accessible surroundings, and my experience at the College gives me hope for the future.”
Lucky Mahenzo Mbonani has spent her career working for the rights of children with disabilities in her native Kenya. Upon completion of her LL.M. degree, she plans to return to her community on the Kenyan coast to continue that work. “I believe my studies at the College of Law will be of great importance in bringing about change in Kenya with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities and, most significantly, children with disabilities who are more vulnerable in Kenyan society,” Mbonani says. “The College’s impact will not end with me, but it will be felt in the local Kenyan community for generations.”
The academic pursuits of all three students were made possible in part through generous scholarship grants from the Taiwan-based J&K Wonderland Foundation, whose scholarship grants are designed to support Taiwanese or Chinese students interested in disability law, and the JAF Foundation, a charitable foundation that funds social welfare, conservation, and human rights programs, including academic scholarships, which in the College of Law’s instance, are designed to support law students from Africa.