Agata Zwolankiewicz is an international Master’s student in the Faculty of Law and recently completed an internship at the Senate of Canada. Agata was the 2019-2020 recipient of the Edward Barry McDougall Memorial Scholarship for Graduate Studies in Law.
A native of the Silesia Province in Poland, Agata started dreaming of becoming a lawyer back in elementary school. It wasn’t until her third year, while participating in moot court competitions, that she found her concentration - International Trade and Foreign Investment. Agata chose to combine two causes dear to her heart, international law and the environment.
The Edward Barry McDougall Memorial Scholarship for Graduate Studies in Law was established in 2001 in memory of Barry McDougall, BA, LLB, by his family. It enables one Polish law graduate per year to travel to Canada to earn a Master of Laws degree (LLM) in Common and Civil Law Sections at the University of Ottawa.
Barry passed away in 1999. In 2000, his wife Anne McDougall, and their three children—Drew, Catherine and Elizabeth—decided to establish the Scholarship at the University of Ottawa to celebrate his extraordinary accomplishments and to continue sharing his deep passion for teaching young Polish lawyers the intricacies of Canadian law.
Agata discusses why she chose to take our LLM program and what life was like as an intern in the office of the Government Representative in the Senate, the Honorable Marc Gold:
What made you chose our program and your concentration (International Trade and Foreign Investment)?
When I was completing my studies in Poland, I heard about the Edward Barry McDougall Scholarship program. I have read about the LL.M. with concentration in International Trade and Foreign Investment and thought that it was a great program, specifically designed for my needs. There are not that many universities that offer studies in International Economic Law and University of Ottawa seemed a great choice. It is under the influence of both common and civil law jurisdictions, has great teaching staff and offers very interesting courses.
What were your responsibilities during your internship?
During the internship, I was working closely with Ms. Dorothy Liang (Parliamentary Affairs Advisor in the Government Representative Office in the Senate, the Honorable Marc Gold). My main responsibility was to provide assistance with daily tasks in the office such as research on international and domestic affairs and helping to prepare the Senator for his work in the Senate chamber. During the internship, I had the chance to participate in several briefings for senators.
Why were you interested in the Senate?
For an international student, an internship in the Senate allows one to gain more insight into domestic and internationals affairs in Canada. Additionally, I was interested in gaining more practical experience whilst pursuing an LL.M. degree.
What was it like to work with senators?
Working with the Senator and his staff at the Government Representative Office in the Senate was an amazing experience. I didn’t expect to have so many opportunities to be in direct contact with the Senator during my internship given how busy it can get in the office. It was a great experience to discuss politics and get more insight into the daily life of the Government Representative in the Senate. Even though it was a short stay in the Senate, I immediately felt a part of the team and got a lot of support, especially during the first days of the internship.
Was there something in your background that led you to this?
Frankly, the internship at the Senate was not directly within the area of my concentration. However, I believe that the time spent at the University should also be used for trying to explore new fields and finding our areas of professional interests. I am a great believer that it is worth getting the most out of opportunities when they present themselves because they can lead to great experiences.
Do you think you would have been given the same access to the Senate if you had been studying at another institution? Why?
I believe that close cooperation between the Senate and the University of Ottawa certainly facilitated my access to the Senate.
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