June 11, 2012

Correspondent Spotlight: Justine Burke

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InteRDom Internships in the Dominican Republic is excited to introduce Justine Burke, a second-year law student at the University of Georgia School of Law and an InteRDom Correspondent for 2012 summer programs.

Upon her return to the University of Georgia, she will serve as an ambassador of the country and the program for undergraduate students interested in traveling to the Dominican Republic for academic and professional experiences.

Justine is participating in the Summer 2012 Graduate and Gap Year Program and will be performing an internship in the legal department at la Universal de Seguros, one of the largest and most respected insurance providers in the Dominican Republic.  Through the Correspondent Program she will post bi-weekly blogs not only about her internship experience, but about cultural activities and excursions, her impressions of the Dominican culture and the daily life of an international student in the Dominican Republic.

Upon her return to the University of Georgia, she will serve as an ambassador of the country and the program for undergraduate students interested in traveling to the Dominican Republic for academic and professional experiences.  While the InteRDom Program has strong ties with the University of Georgia School of Law, Justine will help provide an important link to the students of diverse study areas in the undergraduate schools.   Read more about how the Ambassador Program helps students boost their resumes in the areas of Communications, Marketing and Public Relations, here.

Justine was born in New York and grew up in the South, moving frequently between South Carolina, Mississippi and Georgia.  Throughout her life she has been interested in the Spanish language and Latin American and Caribbean cultures.  She participates in many volunteer and service activities, especially with immigrant Hispanic populations in the Athens, Georgia area, including teaching English at the Athens Latino Center for Education.  Her participation in the InteRDom program constitutes her first international travel experience.

Q: Why did you decide to participate in the Correspondent Program?

A: I decided that I wanted to participate in the Correspondent Program because I love to read and write and I wanted to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with others who may not have been able to travel to the Dominican Republic or elsewhere during their academic careers.

Q: How do you think the program will contribute to your academic and/or career goals?

A: I think that participating in the program…. As you know I am a law student and we have to do a lot of writing, so through the correspondent program I will be able to develop my analytical writing skills and my creative writing skills through posts on the website.  My ultimate career goal is to become a transactional lawyer, so I will have to develop a lot of contracts and memos and things of that nature, so just constantly writing and posting blogs on the Correspondent Program page will help me keep those skills intact.

Q: Why did you become interested in becoming a lawyer?

A: My interest in becoming a lawyer was sparked probably when I was 8 years old, although I didn’t know it, I have always been very determined, kind of outspoken on issues that I think affect me or affect others, and I realized when I was about 17 or so that I could put that desire to help other people into an actual career…

Q: What is your point of reference for knowledge about the Dominican Republic?  (i.e. what do you know about the country and how did you learn it?)

A:  I wanted to come to the Dominican Republic for a long time, and I actually do not know why I wanted to go.  I just thought it would be the best place to go, it’s in the Caribbean, everyone speaks Spanish and I have been studying Spanish for a long time and I have never been able to study abroad.  I have randomly done a lot of research on the Dominican Republic just to know more about it: what the people are like, what the Spanish is like, what the culture is like, the food.  And in my first year in law school we had a study abroad program in my school and the Dominican Republic unfortunately wasn’t listed as an option for study abroad, so I researched and I found InteRDom and I was completely elated because it totally aligned with what I wanted to do in my law school mission.  Once I was accepted into the program I probably Googled the Dominican Republic like 3 million times to see if I could find anything new on it.

Q: Are you a member of any clubs or student organizations at your university? 

I was just elected as the E-board chair of the Black Law Students Association at my school, so in that capacity I just serve as a lisason between the Executive Board and the committees.  I am also a member of Street Law, which is an organization that reaches out to young kids who are interested in legal careers.  We volunteer on weekends with the peer court, which is a court in Athens that is completely run by students.  So for if you have kids in Junior high school who have committed a petty crime or things of that nature, other students actually act as the attorneys and the judges and give them sentences and we mentor them.  It’s like a simulated court, but the sentences are actually real.

Q: What are some words you would use to describe yourself?

A: Determined, outgoing

Q: How do you think that these qualities will contribute to helping you adjust to life in the Dominican Republic?

A:  I think that me being determined and outgoing has definitely contributed to my sentiments about my trip so far because people who maybe are shy or not very determind will probably not have that great of a time here because it can be intimidating if you aren’t completely fluent in Spanish and everyone outside only speaks Spanish.  If I weren’t determined and outgoing I would probably be deterred from leaving the apartment and going out and meeting people and improving my Spanish skills.

Q: What is one fun or little-known fact about yourself?

A: When I was 15 I had my first job working at the YMCA and I was a gymnastics instructor, and the interesting thing about it is that I have never done gymnastics in my life, so I was teaching children gymnastics although I actually had no experience being a gymnast.

You can follow Justine’s and other InteRDom Correspondents’ experiences in the Dominican Republic on the InteRDom blog.  Check back frequently to learn of all of the rich learning and professional development opportunities that the Dominican Republic has to offer.

The internship program, InteRDom, an initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), is the premier internship, research and academic study program in the Dominican Republic. It offers international students the opportunity to research important topics at the forefront of the United Nations agenda, obtain professional experience by interning with Dominican organizations and businesses related to their fields of study and/or earn academic credits by taking courses and seminars at a local university.

Correspondent Spotlight: Justine Burke

Correspondent Spotlight: Justine Burke