October 28, 2020
Austin Urias RLAW '24 had been working in Mozambique as part of the Peace Corps before law school.

What were you doing before you came to Rutgers Law School? 

Before coming to Rutgers Law School, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, from June 2018 to March 2020. My service was originally slated to come to a close in August, but the pandemic meant all PCVs world-wide were emergency evacuated early. Mozambique is one of the poorest nations in the world.  I served as a Health Services Promoter in a small town of a few thousand people, about 22-23 miles from the nearest paved road. My work focused primarily on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Mozambique has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, approximately 15% of the population of the country has the virus, and in my town the rate was about 17%. I worked in conjunction with the local health center helping identify patients who were eligible to transition to more advanced models of care. The goal was to reduce the workload on the health center staff, speed up wait times for them and other patients, and increase compliance with the treatment regime. I also worked with boys aged 10-18 who were to be circumcised, explaining to them the dangers of HIV, how the virus works and is transmitted, what they could do to protect themselves from the virus, and why this was especially important for them as young men. Additionally, I answered any questions they had about HIV.

How did you choose to come to law school, and why Rutgers?

I have a Philosophy degree. I chose to come to law school because I figured that I could become the best version of myself that I could through law school and that I could be the most effective force of good I possibly can be. The ultimate goal includes using the law to improve the lives of others as much as I can. I'm interested in using what I learn here to reduce suffering and increase happiness as effectively as possible. Probably through government service. I want to like who I am and what I am doing with my life when I wake up in the mornings, and I believe that becoming an attorney and utilizing the skills I learn here will allow me to do that.

I chose Rutgers for a number of reasons. Rutgers Camden has the JumpStart Program. It turned out to be a great program that I was able to utilize, and I am grateful to have been able to take advantage of it. The dual-degree program I was looking for (J.D./M.P.A.) is available here, and the Department of Public Policy and Administration offers a Coverdell Fellowship for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Rutgers is a relatively affordable Law School and that is always a major factor.

Talk a little more about yourself.

I'm from suburban Dallas, Texas and attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, where I earned a B.A, in Philosophy, focusing on Medical Ethics.

I've spent many years as a part-time carnival worker, going to major events across the South/Southwest of the US selling trinkets, necklaces, toys, fidget spinners, and whatever else might sell. That was always a lot of fun, but crazy hard work, long days, and usually legal. I want to become an Ironman someday, so I can regularly be found on my bike, out for a run, or weather permitting out for a swim wherever I can find open water! Between undergrad and Peace Corps I volunteered with Meals on Wheels, delivering hot meals one day a week to the indigent and the elderly around Dallas. That was really fulfilling work, and when my schedule allows, I want to begin delivering again. I have an ongoing and lifelong goal of reading all the Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction. I'm also in the process of folding 1,000 origami cranes. If possible, I'd like to display them in the Rutgers Law School buildings when I'm done as a tribute to the difficulties of being a 1L.

Rutgers Law Media Contacts:
Mike Sepanic (Camden); Elizabeth Moore (Newark)

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