voices of women in law // voix des femmes en droit


Alexandra Iannarino

As a Health Science student in CEGEP, I was intrigued by all things scientific, and was intending to pursue a career in medicine. In an attempt to reaffirm that medicine was my calling, I participated in a humanitarian trip with MEDLIFE to Peru, where I worked in mobile clinics within several underprivileged communities. When shadowing physicians at the clinic and later building a staircase for a community, I was able to interact with the locals and witness the camaraderie between the villagers. What resonated with me was the amount of joy and laughter they had to share with us. In spite of their poverty, people were rich in spirit and showed us, volunteers, much kindness and gratitude. When working at the tooth brushing station at the clinic, I met a ten-year-old Peruvian girl named Marisol who had a lasting impact on me. After giving a demonstration, I offered her a toothbrush, and she responded with such a grateful smile. She gave me a hug and expressed how thankful and excited she was to be able to brush her teeth properly for the first time. As I hugged Marisol, I felt the true impact that could be made by providing health services and by imparting our knowledge of health awareness.

I believe that every human being has the right to health care; however, this vital necessity is unavailable to many. The lack of human and financial resources, as well as legal and social obstacles, are a substantial threat to impoverished, underdeveloped populations. By travelling to Peru, I was sensitized to the shortage of health services in underprivileged areas of the world, and realized the indispensable value of health care. When I spoke to the Peruvian locals, they informed me that the government did not spend the money it had promised on essential health care and infrastructure, such as secure staircases. As a result, the community’s development was hindered. The thought that there was inequality in health care distribution partially due to the inaction of the government invoked in me a desire to help and defend those who are voiceless against this injustice. The knowledge that I gained on the humanitarian trip prompted my own personal growth and allowed me to realize my true calling.

After much reflection, I determined that I was driven by the injustices resulting from the lack of health care services rather than by offering the health care services themselves. As a result, I applied to law school. I felt at the time that a career in law would provide me with the tools and the opportunities necessary to change the lives of many people in unfortunate predicaments.

Now, after finishing my first semester in law school, I’ve learned that law is a creative and powerful force that can be used to change situations for the better. The thought that I, as a lawyer, will one day improve lives by being of service to those who feel powerless against injustice continues to bring me much fulfillment.

Contours is made possible by funding from the McGill Law Students’ Association / L’Association des étudiant-e-s en droit de McGill. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the authors.

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