Student Speakers Represent Range of Interests, Cultures

by Sarah Ricciardi

The class of 2014 will hear from three student speakers, who were elected by their peers to give the Commencement addresses, during the ceremony on Sunday, May 18.  Pro Se caught up with the busy, almost-grads to chat about, among other things, favorite memories from their time at UConn Law and their plans for the future.

Chris Borchert, the 3L day division speaker, came to UConn straight out of college.  Part of the draw for Borchert was the size of the student body.

“Not many people realize just how small our student body is, and I think that goes a long way toward bringing students, professors, and alumni together.  We foster a sense of community here that is rare among law schools,” said Borchert.

One of Borchert’s favorite experiences at UConn was competing in the Loiselle Moot Court Competition.  Chris explained, “There’s nothing like the thrill of arguing in front of a panel of judges, especially after you’ve spent hours crafting and fine tuning your arguments.”

After graduation, Borchert will be joining Connell Foley LLP in their Roseland, New Jersey office.  In 2016, he will clerk for the Honorable Esther Salas, United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey.

Roopa Modha, the 4L evening division speaker, was drawn to UConn Law because of its academic credentials as well as its diverse extracurricular activities.  Modha added, “UConn also offered great certificate programs. In fact, I completed my certificates in both tax law and intellectual property last fall.”

Modha was the Magister of the law honor society, President of the South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA), and a member of the Student Bar Association Diversity Committee.  She points to the multiple panels that she helped to organize and moderate as some of the most memorable moments of her UConn Law experience.  She attributes much of the success of these events to the law school’s administration and staff.  “Working with Dean DeMeola was amazing.  I joke that she is my fairy god-sister of law,” Moodha said.

Modha is looking forward to taking a much-needed vacation before starting her job search.

 “Taking a break will give me time to think through which areas of the law I want to work in,” said Modha.

Rojia Afshar, the LLM student speaker, came to UConn Law from her home country of Iran.  During her time here, she wrote a thesis on prisons and the extreme need to incorporate more rehabilitative programs therein.  “I really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity I was given here to express my thoughts – the very thing that I was not able to freely do in Iran,” explained Afshar.

Some of Afshar’s favorite experiences at the Law School were during Diversity Week.

“I participated in ‘the power of our narratives’ and ‘UConn Show Case.’  In both programs I finally got to express myself and talk about/show my diverse background,” said Afshar.

She plans on addressing the crucial role of lawyers in implementing changes in the world’s affairs during her speech on Sunday.  After graduation, Afshar will travel to Florida before hunkering down to study for the New York Bar in February 2015.